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Monday Rockpile: The 2014 Ultimatum

I have done the calculations.  The entirety of my student loan debt, my car and my piano would be completely paid off - that is, if I were paid $1 every time I have read how important it is for the Rockies to take advantage of their contention window through 2014.  That is the final season in which the Rockies have control of Ubaldo Jimenez, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.  Tulo himself would be paying into my debt absolvement fund.  As would Troy Renck.  And Rox Girl.  I myself would make plenty of payments.

It is an understandable notion, especially after Ubaldo's historic season and CarGo and Tulo being named Silver Slugger AND Gold Glove winners this week, marking the first time Rockies teammates won both awards.  We are already worried about CarGo's weather preferences.  But just how dark will it turn in Rockie land in 2015 if only one of the Big Three re-signs?  

While many are fearful of dreary days at Coors Field, the truth is there is nothing to suggest that the Rockies will plummet into a 2003-2006 era anytime soon.  

The reality is, there is much left to occur before decisions have to be made on The Big Three.  Should the Rockies find more postseason success in the next four years than the past four (and there is no reason to suggest they won't), the increase in ticket sales and revenue from playoff shares will significantly increase Colorado's ability to retain at least one of their stars.  

Then consider how what else can happen in four seasons.  To illustrate, let us go four years into the past, when Colorado finished its best season in seven years (10 games UNDER .500).  At that time Jason Jennings was the Rockies' ace, though not for long.  Matt Holliday had just earned his first career Silver Slugger. Troy Tulowitzki had less career home runs than Omar Quintanilla does now.  Ubaldo Jimenez had made all of one start in his major league career. Jhoulys Chacin had yet to pitch at Rookie League Casper and was a name about as well known as Gustavo Brazoban is right now.  And Carlos Gonzalez? He was about as close to the major leagues as Jordan Pacheco is now, having played in only 18 games above A-ball.  Since then, the Rockies organization has won a pennant and made the playoffs twice.  That is a lot of change.

Players who were relatively unknown to most Rockies fans in 2006, let alone nationally, seemingly carry all the weight of the organization going forward.  It is as if the 2015 doomsayers assume that zero young stars will surface in the 2014-2016 window.  What a mistake that assumption is.

As Bryan Kilpatrick linked three weeks ago, the Rockies were ranked as having the #1 2010 draft in the National League by Baseball America, 4th in MLB.  BA set up 18 categories (such as "Closest to the Majors" and "Best Defensive Player" etc.) under which they named their top five players from the draft.  That is 90 slots, and despite Colorado's high ranking, only two Rockies' picks made the cut - Kyle Parker as #3 Best Power prospect and Corey Dickerson as #1 Junior College player.  It was a draft built on depth.

Then consider that the Rockies' draft ranked #1 in MLB by Baseball America in 2009 after snagging Tyler Matzek and signing every pick through round 28.  While there are no Bryce Harpers or Jason Heywards on the farm (yet) and prospect lists are hardly perfect predictors of the future, Colorado is well-positioned for a wave of home-grown talent behind the top drafts in the National League in each of the last two years.  It isn't as if this is the Pirates organization.

While Dan O'Dowd could use that prospect depth to supplement the big league roster during the contention window, he has indicated he is unlikely to do so:

"In the model we have created here, we strive to keep our club at its most competitive....Sometimes, and with some clubs, when you take on a quality player through a trade, or sign a free-agent player at significant cost, it can completely eliminate the quality depth you've built. That is not something we are willing to do." - Denver Post

While those that are hoping for a Zack Greinke acquisition will frown at that, it is hardly a frugal or foolish method.  Superior talent and/or active GMs don't always equate to World Series titles, and while the Diamondbacks and Marlins have had success buying titles, the Tigers, OriolesMets  and even the early O'Dowd era Rockies are cautionary tales to the contrary.  O'Dowd is attempting to keep the Rockies always in contending status, increasing the chances they will catch lightning in the bottle and win a World Series.  That won't change after 2014.

Off-topic here.

Denver Post/FSN Top of the Rockies fan poll 2010 - The Denver Post Everybody vote in the Post's 2010 Rockies poll!

Rockies prospects near end of fall play | Inside the Colorado Rockies Speaking of Rockies prospects, Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies runs down how the seven Rox prospects have fared in the Arizona Fall League.

Rumor roundup: All quiet for Rockies so far | Inside the Colorado Rockies  Foster also touches on the big names the Rockies have been linked to thus far and the progress made (read: none) on acquiring them.

Rockies figure to stay quiet in free-agent hunt - The Denver Post Jim Armstrong indicates the Rockies aren't going to make a huge splash in free agency.


Who Takes The Longest Between Pitches, and Who's Cruising? - Beyond the Box Score
There's a very interesting fanpost at BtB right now, which graphically displays the pitchers who slow the game down the most, and those that speed it up.  Rockies fans know the slowest pitcher well, but there's also a Rockies coming in 7th slowest.  I'll just toss out that I saw a Rockies prospect with the Casper Ghosts that would blow Mark Buerhle out of the water for quickest pitching.


A Hurdle to overcome - Stats & Info Blog - ESPN  Clint Hurdle was hired yesterday to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates, which is a perfect match.  Not only is Hurdle well-known for being able to handle youth movements, but Hurdle's .461 career winning percentage (which ranks 2nd worst among current managers with 1000 games) jives well with the Pirates philosophy, as the organization's 18-season losing record streak is the longest of any team in MLB history.