Surprisingly, the Denver Post this morning isn't calling for anybody associated with the Rockies to be fired, or to sell out their investment in the team, or asking fans to hurl insults and obscenities on their own guys. Okay, I'm lying, there are probably two or three more articles in this vein, but that paper has become so shrill it's hard to read anymore, even when I agree with them. So no links for them today. Okay, one, I'll quote Jim Armstrong's column:
It wasn't, not even close, and the Rox haven't recovered to this day. ...
Hampton, Denny Neagle, Darryl Kile, Mike Lansing, Bill Swift, Jeff Cirillo. ... It's not that ownership has refused to spend money through the years. The Rockies' problem is they've spent it on the wrong players. ...
Which is absolutely true, and this is why a lot of fans are starting to rub me the wrong way for their calls of change in ownership. For years now, I've been writing that the team is approaching a day when they'll need to put out a good faith contract just to keep the fans satiated. Well, the time of reckoning is obviously at hand, but oddly it's come when the only free agents signing are 43 year old pitchers who like to confine themselves to Texas or the Eastern seaboard. Re-signing players in house? Scott Boras doesn't negotiate during the season, so Matt Holliday's out, and Garrett Atkins hasn't exactly earned a contract extension yet this season. So I'm going to give some advice to the brothers M to salvage the season and regain the wandering Rockies fans for next Spring:
- Draft the best available player, regardless of their adviser on June 7, and pray that a marquee name slips to the eighth slot. Matt Wieters would qualify, Max Scherzer, Detwiler too. From high school, I think Moustakas and Porcello would count, I'm beginning to suspect that Jason Heyward might not.
- Tread carefully around the trade deadline. Another peeve of mine is reading educated Rockies fans complaining about losing Jason Jennings, when 1) Jennings wasn't going to re-sign with the Rockies without a ridiculous offer if at all, and 2) the trade we got for him was and is a fantastic baseball move. It's looking to me more everyday like we'll be able to make a similarly solid move with one or both of our corner infielders by July, but fan reaction to this will be bitter at best, and openly hostile at worst. Brainstorm for ideas to keep the fallout minimized, but let me suggest that the Boston Red Sox' patented humiliate and villify your players in the media route probably won't work here.
- Wish Clint Hurdle well in his next employment. I'm not sure if this decision can wait until the end of the season without a lengthy winning streak in very short order here and with his management skills I wouldn't hold my breath for that, but it will need to be done. Do we need more examples of managerial incompetence? Last night, when Hurdle tried to have Tulowitzki bunt Atkins over to give a chance to Torrealba to drive him home, he was in effect taking the bat out of the hands of the clutchiest hitter in all of baseball this season in a clutch situation. I would think Clint Hurdle of all people would believe in this.
- Explore the parameters of a Holliday contract extension. I know Boras doesn't negotiate in the offseason, but there's got to be some way of figuring out what an acceptable $$ range would be, and start planning for that expenditure. Holliday's made himself a natural fit as a cornerstone player for this franchise, and while I generally would want to avoid shelling out the cash to corner position players, he's become marketable and productive enough to be worth it and this should shut up the critics. You should probably start thinking about an eventual Tulowitzki extension as well, but that's obviously a couple of seasons down the road still. It goes without saying that despite my feelings that he'd be there, Iannetta's not in that boat yet and may not get there.
- Pay for a premium, catcher, center fielder or second baseman in the offseason. The key additions next year can't be another middle reliever or bench bat. If Kaz proves himself healthy and as good as he's been for us so far, re-signing him might be a relatively cheap fix for one of these slots.
Okay. Back to that Fangraphs link regarding Tulo's clutchiness. The gap between Tulo and the field is approaching non-random event status, but it's not there yet. On a macro level, we know that there's no such thing as a clutch hitter, but on micro levels, there seems to be at least a little evidence of an actual skill there. It looks like Tulowitzki might be the first Rockie in a long time to have it.