The Colorado Rockies announced yesterday that Trevor Story will be the Opening Day shortstop, and with it, told you one of two disappointing things:
1. They don't believe he'll ultimately be a player good enough to hold down for an extra year of control.
2. They're prioritizing three weeks in April of what's likely to be a lost 2016 season over a full year of control in 2022.
I'm not sure which is worse, but either way it puts a damper on the player I was most excited about this spring. Either the Rockies don't believe in the kid as much as I do and expect him to struggle or flame out at some point, or the front office just isn't disciplined enough to pick the low-hanging fruit in front of them, which is exactly the type of thing they need to take advantage of if they're eventually going to compete with clubs who have access to greater resources and aren't operating at a built-in competitive disadvantage.
The frenzy of spring will try to spin this into a story of the club rewarding a young player who worked his tail off, has the right attitude, and can re-solidify a position that's been a strength for years, but unfortunately the system just doesn't work that way. The part about Story working his tail off and being awesome is certainly true, but the Rockies can't justify rewarding that type of production with an Opening Day roster spot if they're smart considering their likely position in the 2016 standings.
This isn't the Rockies' fault, and this isn't Trevor Story's fault, but the system is set up so that only a fool would call up a potentially great player at the start of a likely lost season while wasting a year of control down the road. This is not the way the Rays did business with Evan Longoria, this is not the way the Cubs did business with Kris Bryant, and this is not the way the 2013 Rockies did business with Nolan Arenado. All of those teams I mentioned had a much better chance at playing meaningful baseball down the stretch entering those seasons than the 2016 Rockies do.
This is just so, so infuriating. Looking back, is there anyone who now gazes at 2013 and wishes the Rockies called up Nolan Arenado three weeks earlier? Sure, it was obvious he was the best option at third base that spring, earned the job and was ready to face MLB pitching (Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac spent most of April at third base), but Dan O'Dowd and that Rockies front office did the smart thing and held Arenado down to start the season because they believed in him long term. I'm sure he wasn't happy, but Arenado went to Colorado Springs for three weeks and posted a 1.059 OPS before being called up and everybody got over it. Thanks to that move, the Rockies now have control of Arenado's services through 2019 instead of through 2018. So I ask again, is there anybody now who would rather only have control of Arenado for three more years instead of four?
This is just the latest in a long line of disappointments this front office has handed their fans. I was really looking forward to a late-April Story call up. I expected him to rake in Albuquerque, come up after 25 games, and then be a quality shortstop I could be excited about for the foreseeable future. Now, this lost year of service time is going to be hanging over the heads of the more analytical fans all summer. Every home run, every great defensive play for a team 15 games under .500 will be played out against the backdrop of knowing he could have been doing it for an extra year down the road where the Rockies might actually be competitive.
All that was needed was an ounce of patience from Jeff Bridich and his staff. But, nope; they either don't believe Story is good enough to stick at the major league level in his first try (which would be more disappointing than infuriating) or they actually think they can compete with this team in this division. That second option is frightening since it would display a lack of self-awareness -- and would match most of what the club has done over the winter and throughout its history.
Of course, there are scenarios here where this could work out perfectly. Story could struggle just enough to get sent down for a month, make the adjustment, and then be a great player for the Rockies for years, but with this decision today, you now have to squint to see that scenario.
No matter the situation, you can always find best-case scenarios if you look hard enough. Sadly, the front office's job isn't to bet on best-case scenarios -- it's to weigh all the factors in play and make the best decision (usually a long-term one) possible for the club, and it appears that once again, this crew has failed to do so.
Another extremely important piece of the Rockies' future is going to start the year on the sideline, but Gray knows that he has to wait this thing out because having him healthy for the final 90 percent of the season is more important than rushing him back with an injury that's a major risk to reoccur.
As usual when it comes to these lists, the Rockies are well represented. Ten of the top 107 players on the list are from Colorado's farm, which is extremely impressive (Trevor Story comes in 60th). Now the key is to develop these guys into quality MLB talent.
This is a really nice little piece from Harding about the moment Story was told he was going to make the major leagues. It's just unfortunate for Rockies fans that it couldn't have come a few weeks later.
There's some fun facts in here about Ichiro being the oldest player in the game and how he ranks against other players who have been in the same position. Not surprisingly, there's plenty of Hall of Famers here.