The Colorado Rockies are running out of years during Troy Tulowitzki's prime.
Even if they don't make major changes this offseason, the Rockies are at a crossroads. They can make a few significant moves now and give this team some desperately needed shock therapy, they can admit it just isn't going to work like this and opt for the total rebuild, they can trim around the edges, or they can do nothing and hope.
Below are the options I see available to the Rockies and my guess on the likelihood of them choosing that option.
Option 1: Stand Pat - 25%
The path many fans expect to see the Rockies take, and the one that will be met with the most ire, including from yours truly.
Whether it's making no major changes to the front office or bringing back exactly the same cast of characters -- overpaying for Michael Cuddyer and Brett Anderson -- if the Rockies mostly stand pat the only chance of next season not having just as bad a record as this one, would be both Eddie Butler and Jon Gray immediately taking the league by storm out of the gate in 2015.
The chances of that aren't zero, but it's closer to zero than most other numbers.
The stand pat ideology will not fly this off season. The Rockies have major concerns in the starting rotation and the bullpen and if nothing is done is those areas, they will almost certainly be among the worst teams in baseball again next season.
Option 2: Rebuild - 10%
Trade Troy Tulowitzki. Trade Carlos Gonzalez. Fire everybody in the front office and bring in new staff. Start to build around Corey Dickerson, Nolan Arenado, and hopefully Tyler Matzek, Jon Gray, Eddie Butler, and Tyler Anderson.
This strategy could be punting on anywhere from two to four years of legitimate contention and would likely create a hole at the hardest position in baseball to fill (shortstop) but it could also result in giving a massive injection of talent into an already (at least) decent farm system.
Tulowitzki alone could net a haul of prospects that would vault the Rockies into a consensus top-five system when paired with what the Rockies already have.
It can always be said that prospects are a crapshoot and trading so much proven MLB talent for minor league players could leave you having given up the best player in franchise history for nothing.
But I have been arguing all along that it is the depth and not just the names at the top that is the reason to believe in the current Rockies farm. So it is only consistent to admit that such an inflow of talent -- especially if it included young, team-controlled pitching -- could be the answer for a team that can't afford to have so many resources locked up in two players who can't stay on the field.
The Rockies could swing their star players and put themselves in a similar position to the Chicago Cubs; a bevy of highly rated prospects all set to make their debuts around the same time around an already established but still young core. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo for them, Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson for the Rockies.
As much as I hate to say it, for the right haul the Rockies could rebuild rather quickly by moving both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
Option 3: One or two major changes - 25%
This scenario involves trading CarGo. There are a lot of additional variables if the Rockies are willing to try some dramatic things but still want to keep Tulowitzki.
They could still make some major front office changes or swing deals for guys like Justin Morneau, and even Corey Dickerson should be on the table in this scenario. Dickerson is cheap so can't be had for anything less than major pitching upgrades. But Dickerson remains a liability on defense and it could be argued that he may just be at a peak in value after one great season with the bat.
My favorite version of this scenario, though, is one where Geivett is replaced by an outsider and O'Dowd is named vice president in charge of minor league operations. Then the task of whether or not to re-sign Cuddyer and Anderson, and also the trading of CarGo and a decision on a potential new manager would be left to the new person in charge of major league operations.
This is the one I would like to see the most but doubt it all goes down this neatly. There's still a great deal of value in CarGo and will discuss in more detail soon how and why I think he can be traded in a way that can have immediate and forceful impact on the team, especially under new management for the major league team.
Option 4: Same core, adding low cost players - 40%
What I think the Rockies are most likely to do is something similar to what they did last off season. Several changes, not all of them negligible (adding Morneau, maybe Lyles, maybe Stubbs) so that the supporting cast has a new look and feel but the leading actors remain center stage.
I would assume (hope beyond hope?) that these additions would come on the mound. The best version of this would be one where the Rockies would have to increase payroll, especially if they choose to retain Cuddyer and Anderson.
If they do choose to increase payroll or let one of those guys go -- or in some other way carve out money in the budget to simply add to the team they already have -- grabbing a couple guys like Jason Hammel or Justin Masterson and then totally overhauling the bullpen wouldn't be a terrible place to start if you want to have more than just a hope for better health.
If the Rockies do go this route, it will depend entirely on what kind of complementary pieces they can bring in. Do they sign a reliable utility man who can replace Tulo when he inevitably goes down? Can they rebuild the bullpen on the cheap? What is to be done at catcher?
The Rockies making minor improvements in all of the areas, (sigh) getting better health, and the influx of talent from the minors could be enough to give the Rockies a fighting chance at the wild card next season. More likely, it sets them up in a decent position for competing in 2016.
Whatever else happens, can we start a petition to have Dick Monfort step away from baseball operations? Can't we all agree on that?