As you're probably aware of by now, Troy Tulowitzki was spotted at Yankee Stadium Sunday where he was taking in the action against the Blue Jays as a fan. Like clockwork, it sparked a massive wildfire of speculation.
Normally this TMZ-like rumor swirl where facts are hard to come by is just an annoyance and ultimately waste of everyone's time. However, in this case it's more compelling, because this time the man in the middle of the storm is intentionally placing himself there.
Let's gets several points on the table here before we proceed as we try and dissect this complicated situation.
1) If given a choice of where to play / which situation he would like to play in, Tulo's priorities would look something like this:
A) Play for the Rockies as a winning team.
B) Play for another team that's winning
C) Play for the Rockies as a losing team
D) Play for another team that's losing
Tulo loves playing for the Rockies. If he didn't, he wouldn't have signed an extension to stay with them through the end of the decade. However, Tulo does not like playing for the Rockies more than he hates losing, and the last four seasons have rightfully worn his patience thin.
2) Tulo absolutely loves the game of baseball. He obsesses over it night and day. So he can go to another game without it meaning anything in reality, and still stir up a firestorm. Don't think he doesn't realize this.
3) From the Rockies' standpoint, it makes little sense to deal Tulo. He's not two or even three seasons away from free agency; he's got six more years on his contract after this season with a team option for a seventh in 2021. In fact, there's no player on the MLB roster right now who is further away from free agency than Tulo. Not Nolan Arenado, not Corey Dickerson, not even Tyler Matzek. If none of these players sign extensions through their free agent seasons and the Rockies wanted to hold onto all of them for as long as possible before they bolted, Tulo would be the last man left on the current roster.
This is significant because unlike Carlos Gonzalez, who is gone after 2017 if he wants out, Tulo's contract extends for more than enough time to catch the next wave of success no matter where you believe this club is in that cycle.
For the club, it means that it makes sense to hold onto Tulo in all scenarios right now if they like him being the face of the franchise. His contract is extremely reasonable for a superstar, he has a combination of three important on field characteristics (hits for power, possesses a very high contact rate, and plays shortstop) which suggest he's going to age very well if he's on the field, and he's going to make the organization a bunch of money as Colorado has proven time and time again that it loves its star players (in all sports) and will support them even if they play on a losing team.
4) For the first time since he's been in Denver, Tulo is not confident this team is close to winning even if he's healthy. Coming into 2014, Tulo was very optimistic about the Rockies' chances, but a flood of injuries to the rotation has not only destroyed 2014, it's also started to put 2015 in jeopardy as well, as Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood are both in serious danger of no longer being positive assets to the Rockies going forward.
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This leaves the Rockies and Tulo in an extremely awkward position. The Rockies want to keep Tulo, but are a complete mess at the moment. Tulo wants to play for a winning team, but can't dictate which team he plays for unless he just wants to stay with the Rockies.
Remember that list of the four scenarios I posted up top? There's no way for Tulo to guarantee he gets one of his top two choices. Tulo can force his way out of town if he really, really wants out, but there's no way to ensure it's going to be to a winning team, and that's a big problem for him. So instead, he's elected to engage in a game of chess in which he uses his pawns to reset the field.
Tulo has three options here when it comes to the trade rumors:
1) He could crush all of them by coming out and saying he wants to be a Rockie for life, as evidenced by the contract he signed at the end of the 2010 season. He hasn't done that.
2) He could overtly come out and say that this Colorado thing just isn't working out and he wants to be traded. But he hasn't done that either.
3) Instead, Tulo has elected a third option where he neither confirms or denies he wants out. In this case, he's just sitting back and letting the hype machine go to work, and that's why this is interesting.
By allowing these rumors to swirl, Tulo accomplishes two things.
First, he gets to see where his most likely landing spot would be if he did request a trade. He may not like the answer. Second, and probably more importantly, he makes the front office uncomfortable, which is likely good for everyone involved long term.
By sitting back and watching the fire burn, Tulo makes ownership consider the possibility of having to choose between him and the current front office structure. That's his trump card in this little game of high stakes poker. If Tulo can force changes within the organization because the people up top decide he's more important than the folks rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, then it's a win-win-win for him, ownership, and the fan base.
Unfortunately, getting there is a very delicate path that could turn woefully ugly with one wrong step. Tulo's not stupid though, and he understands the choices he's making. For him, it's a risk worth the potential reward, because like most of the fan base, he's jumped on the "push for change" bandwagon. This is good news in one sense for the fan base, because he's the only willing person with enough power who is able to drive that bandwagon anywhere. However, it could be heartbreaking for the fan base as well, because if he takes any wrong turns with it, the journey could end in a flaming wreck.
For now, only one message Tulo is sending to the front office is certain: the status quo is unacceptable.
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In other Tulo news, he's meeting with Dr. William C. Meyers today in Philadelphia to get a dry needling procedure on his injured hip as well as a better sense of how soon he can return to the field.
I'm pretty fatigued with the front office discussion as most of it feels unproductive and repetitive at this point, but if you still can't get enough of this topic, Purple Row community member Matt Muzia has a strong piece on that topic.
The Hall of Fame inductions were Sunday afternoon and three legendary players along with three legendary managers were honored and forever enshrined in baseball's most hallowed grounds.