The man sits at the poker table and contemplates his hand. It's likely a loser, but he bets anyway. Others call his bluff, and the pot gets bigger. Undeterred, he bets again, and just as before, others call him out. The situation continues to escalate until the moment of truth finally arrives.
"All in," he says confidently.
Lost in the shuffle of all the opening day fun was this piece from Nick Groke where Jeff Bridich confirms what many have feared all winter: The front office believes the Rockies are good enough to compete now. With most teams, that's a good thing, but when it comes to the Rockies, it's usually a road to hell paved with good intentions.
Let's take a closer look at the quotes.
"We're always trying to win. People are questioning us, or they're confused. 'Why aren't you trying some sort of nuclear rebuild?' Those things have to happen when you feel like you don't have talent on the field to compete or a system of depth to add to it. Our belief is that we have talent on this level to compete."
If there was any doubt left about this before Monday, it should be gone now. Bridich and his staff believe this Rockies club is going to be much better than the projection systems, local media, and most fans think.
While I admire Bridich's willingness to believe in the players around him as well as his confidence to take shots at the "nuclear rebuild" movement I started here at Purple Row last September, I ultimately believe this line of thinking will lead to the club making moves that put them in a less favorable position down the road, and that's why I've been so critical of this group all winter.
Here's more on what Bridich thinks of the "nuclear rebuild" plan I've been pushing for:
"That has never crossed our mind, ever. We're focused and dedicated going the other direction."
And more on what it will take for the Rockies to compete this year:
"Winning is very difficult. But we should compete (this season) as long as we have health."
I do not share this belief. From where I sit, the Rockies need not just decent health (there's always going to be some injuries in MLB), but exceptional health as well as several good surprises to break in their favor if they want to compete - Which I would loosely define as playing meaningful baseball in August and (hopefully) September.
As I've mentioned here several times before in recent months, one of my biggest complaints about the Rockies front office has been their inability to properly identify where they are in the success cycle (and this is coming from someone who thinks they had a pretty solid team entering 2014 and got absurdly unlucky). This shortcoming leads to bad decisions that ultimately prevent them from acquiring the resources necessary to bundle talent together in a specific time period needed to truly compete.
More from Bridich:
"We've had plenty of losing seasons over the last half decade. We've done enough losing. We need to start showing areas of growth."
Here's the funny thing after all the pieces I've written hammering the front office; I'm actually very much on the same page as Bridich with this line of thinking. However, I believe that the more important growth needs to be from the big prospects in the minors as well as the young guns who just cracked the 25-man roster. Following the Tulo trade, I would have liked to have seen more players who could have fit into this group added to the organization instead of banking on second tier veterans like Mark Reynolds, Gerardo Parra, Chad Qualls and Jason Motte to push the club to the next level in 2016.
Instead, I believe the Rockies have foolishly sub-optimized their future by not adding to an already strong farm / coming core of young players. Furthermore, these decisions make me fear that once again, the Rockies' ability to self diagnose what the club needs in any given year is as poor as any club in the league.
One final quote on what Bridich thinks of "team nuclear rebuild" that actually got me to chuckle:
"I don't really care. There will always be knuckleheads out there. They don't know the players like we know these guys as people. You're not ever going to satisfy everybody."
Hopefully the Rockies justify Bridich's comments and make me look like an idiot by Labor Day. If the happens, I promise there will be apology articles from me on this topic. For now though, this "knucklehead" is not on board with the 2016 plan. Only time will tell who is right.
In on the field news, Trevor Story has come out of the gate on fire. Yesterday, he became the first player in over 60 years (!!!) to homer three times in his first two major league games. This kid has immense power for a middle infielder. Just imagine how exciting this infield would be going forward if the Rockies went in a different direction and had kept Tulo at short, put Story at second, and of course left Arenado at third. That would be a fun universe to live in.
Unfortunately the Rockies were unable to hold onto a four run lead last night. Chad Bettis, being the stand up guy that he is took full responsibility for the loss as he wasn't able to pitch deep into the game and came unglued after the Rockies scored six runs for him in the fourth inning.
Bettis wasn't good, but what happened after he left was even worse. In particular, Walt Weiss' bullpen management left much to be desired.
CarGo's home run to right center field from Monday left the bat at just over 117 mph. That's quite a feat according to Statcast.
With Reyes' case not going to court, MLB now knows they have all the information they're going to get on last October's incident in Hawaii. This means a suspension is coming soon (likely in a few days) for the toxic asset of the Tulo trade, and if Manfred is serious about this issue, it better be significant.
(One other point of note here. I'm not sure what MLB is going to do when another dope is involved in a domestic violence incident during the season, but this time table [it's been over five months since the Reyes altercation] is not going to work. In this case, it wasn't a big deal it took this long because it was important to get it right and there were no games for an extended stretch of time, but I have a hard time seeing the Players Association liking the idea of a guy sitting out waiting for a ruling on a suspension if the incident happens in May. That would be over 100 games lost before a penalty was even handed down. This is an issue Manfred needs to be prepared for because unfortunately, he's probably going to have to deal with it one of these years.)
Well, that didn't take long. The "Chase Utley rule" has already caused controversy as the tying and go ahead runs in the ninth inning of last night's game between Tampa and Toronto were wiped off the board when Jose Bautista slid a little too far off the bag in MLB's eyes. Instead, both Bautista and the batter (Edwin Encarnacion) were called out giving the Rays a double play to end the game.
I completely understand MLB's intent here trying to keep the middle infielders safe, but I think this rule needs to be dialed back some. What Jose Bautista did last night was in a separate solar system from the garbage Chase Utley pulled last October. Not only that, but seeing a game end on a judgement overturned replay call felt far too much like the end of an NFL game, and I mean that in the absolute most negative way possible.