Among Troy Renck's notes, which include tidbits about Scott Boras as well as two of his clients with Rockies connections in Matt Holliday and Carlos Gonzalez, plus an update on former Padres GM Kevin Towers, he mentions running into Brian Fuentes at the ALCS and in passing notes that the Rockies are looking into signing closer Huston Street to a multi-year deal. Street would be eligible for free agency after the 2010 season, so this would seem to be a departure from the club's usual arbitration buyout plus an option year, and a strong indicator that the club won't be going through a fire sale and rebuild any time soon. Of course, Holliday would be a good example that there are limits to the Monforts' generosity when it comes to contracts, and some players clearly are still out of the Rockies range and a few others still see themselves that way.
The news also seems to put Street in a core category as far as Dan O'Dowd's blueprint for the team over the next few seasons, and bullpen stability in general is also a noted departure from the first five years of his tenure as Rockies GM. Colorado does seem to be stockpiling some young bullpen arms. If Taylor Buchholz and Corpas can return strong from lost seasons and join Street, Matt Daley and Franklin Morales, the Rockies would seem to be well situated in relief over the next two seasons, particularly if Casey Weathers proves worthy of his hype.
Fuentes' statement to Renck is also somewhat enlightening,
"I came here to be in the playoffs. There is an expectation to win," Fuentes said. "They were just starting to develop that in Colorado when I left. It takes time, but obviously they are on the right track."
There's no longer a filter for Brian of having to be nice to the hand that writes the paychecks as far as the Rockies are concerned, so you can read a little more into his statement. The "just starting when I left..," phrase echoes similar statements I've read by other former Rockies that have left the team in the last three or four seasons, including Holliday, IIRC. In player code, this still puts Colorado cleanly in the second division. It's not a backwater dive where a veteran player feels they're at the end of their run, unwanted and trying to hang on to the last vestiges of their career, but for some reason, it's not yet a glittering beacon drawing them in for the chance of post season glory, either.
This means that despite having a better record and more post season appearances over the last five years than Atlanta or San Francisco, for instance, the Rockies still seem to be perceived among players in some respect as an inferior quality professional organization. Maybe I'm reading too much into Fuentes' words, as the Angels clearly are a step ahead of the Rockies right now, but the other teams he was most interested in signing with last season, the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals, are not when it comes to the results that matter. And since it's not just Fuentes that says it, but other players, I'm seeing it as a little more credible as a prevailing notion.
Obviously, I think this gets fixed by repetition of success. For 2010, there needs to be an expectation within the Rockies and among fans that they return to the post season. In fact, I think beating the Dodgers and winning the NL West are almost a necessity if the franchise really wants to elevate itself to that next tier.