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Purple Row’s alternative history wish list

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What some Purple Row staffers would change about the Rockies

Our FanPost Friday prompt for this week is the same as the off-day question we asked on Twitter yesterday: If you could change one thing about the Rockies (past or present), what would it be and why?

To get the creative juices flowing, we also put this question to the Purple Row staff. Here are some of those responses.

Eric: “Drafted Evan Longoria instead of Greg Reynolds” may be the easiest answer, but I’m going in another direction. I wish the Rockies never traded Larry Walker. It made sense at the time, and it gave Larry a chance to play in the World Series, even if he didn’t get a ring. But I would have loved to see Walker retire as a member of the Rockies. He may already have his number retired if he did.

Nick W.: Like Eric, I would make an infamous Rockies trade never have happened. As a boy, I loved the Rockies from the day they came to Colorado, but my fandom became as intense as it is now in 2007 with Rocktober and, in particular, the emergence of Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo looked like a Hall of Famer, and a Rockies icon for a new generation of winning baseball at Coors Field. We all know it didn't turn out that idealistic, but he wowed me day in and day out, made me not want to miss a single game and the fan I am today. I wish injuries didn't plague his career, and that he could have retired as an all-time great Rockies.

Renee: I’m looking to the very recent past. I wish that Jonathan Lucroy were still with the Rockies — the Rockies tried to bring him back, but they couldn’t reach a deal. Chris Iannetta is great, but I miss Lucroy’s ability to frame a pitch. This became especially clear to me when watching him catch Sean Manaea’s no hitter. First, I think the Rockies’ young pitching rotation has done so well in part, because of the half season they spent throwing to Lucroy. Second, I think Tony Wolters became a better catcher because of what he learned from Lucroy. Third, I miss Lucroy’s swagger. I loved watching him catch because of his utter disdain, conveyed completely through body language, when a hitter got called out on strikes. That we won’t get to see Jonathan Lucroy catch 2018 Adam Ottavino makes me blue beyond words.

Kyle: I would love to see how the early ‘00s Rockies could have performed if Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle had lived up to expectations. Ultimately, those ugly free agent contracts did a lot of harm — they gave free agent pitchers even more reason to avoid Denver, and they led the Rockies’ front office to shy away from trying to sign any big-name hurlers. I think if even one of Hampton or Neagle (preferably Hampton) had found success with the Rockies, the front office tactics develop into something different, and the rest of the O’Dowd tenure follows an alternate timeline. As it stands, the young pitching corps in 2017 showed the rest of the league that there’s little reason to fear Coors Field, and the top-of-the-line relievers have already started to take notice.

Adam: There are many player acquisition choices (drafts, trades, signings) that come to mind. But most of all I would have the Cleveland Indians close out their 3-1 series lead over the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS. The Red Sox were one of the best teams all season and the Rockies would’ve had a tough time against them anyway, even if they didn’t have to wait eight days for the World Series to start. The Indians, however, would’ve been a much more competitive matchup and the Rockies may even have a win in a World Series game by now. While I’m at it: don’t let the Rockies try to sell every World Series ticket on the internet and I get a ticket to Game 3 and get to experience the World Series in Coors Field.

Ryan F: I wish the Rockies hadn’t been so hesitant to trade Troy Tulowitzki and instead maximized his value. Just before the trade deadline in 2014, Jeff Passan reported that the New York Mets were prepared to offer Noah Syndergaard in a deal for Tulowitzki. Knowing what we know now about their careers from that point on, a Syndergaard-for-Tulowitzki swap would’ve been a no brainer for the Rockies. Even at the time, the Rockies were in the midst of their fourth consecutive losing season, Tulowitzki was ripe with red flags—extensive injury history, still owed roughly $120 million, and just a few months shy of his 30th birthday—and Syndergaard was universally considered a top 20 prospect—similar to Jon Gray at the time—with top of the rotation potential. Of course, we can’t be entirely sure Syndergaard was actually on the table, and there’s some hindsight involved here. That being said, the Rockies probably left quite a bit on the table by waiting too long to trade Tulowitzki.