We’re all still kind of reeling from that press conference with Bud Black, Jeff Bridich and Dick Monfort earlier this week. So this offseason primer from Thomas Harding is a welcome attempt to ground things in terms of the moves the Rockies could make and what we can expect for a team that needs to address some issues.
Between Bridich’s stubbornness and Monfort’s comments about money, however, we should expect an offseason with limited options. That may or may not suit what the Rockies actually need, and I think it’s important to note that frustration this week about their approach had to do with this nibbling approach, one that will work around the margins for a team that likely needs a bigger overhaul than that.
To say that anybody believed that the Rockies said they would do “nothing” this winter is to address a straw man, although that’s not unusual in the world of Rockies Twitter (or any other Twitter, for that matter). But the front office did tamp down expectations, and when you combine that with an article like this one from Harding, there’s plenty to be frustrated about.
It’s frustrating because the Rockies have boxed themselves into this corner with bad contracts, and so their options are things like trying to cut their losses with one or more of those deals while still trying to call themselves a contender.
That’s a tough needle to thread. And while it would be refreshing to see the team cut their losses to move one of those guys, it would also involve talking some team into the value of a pitcher like Wade Davis or Bryan Shaw, and presumably that would make those teams chuckle but do little to lay the foundation for substantial trade talks.
So then another option is trade away a core player like Charlie Blackmon, but while that would theoretically show some creativity and adaptability to reload on the fly, I’m not sure I would believe that’s the direction things would be headed in that case.
It looks more like our interests this winter will be more focused on whether they keep fringe guys like Pat Valaika, with the “pie in the sky” moves being something like signing Tanner Roark. Super fun!
The bullpen is one of a number of places where the Rockies will be counting on improvements from players already in the system. That’s at least an area where they should actually go that route rather than spending big (see notes above about Davis and Shaw, and let’s also mention Jake McGee).
A bullpen can turn around quickly with internal options, as we saw late this season with Jairo Diaz and Carlos Estevez improving the back of the ‘pen. In this conversation with Rox Pile, Almonte talks about his focus on improving his mechanics so he can be another guy to step up in relief. That would certainly be a welcome development, and Almonte has the talent to have a big impact in that role.
Baseball is weird and teams can get lucky, as the Rockies arguably did in 2017 and 2018. Maybe the Rockies will get lucky or be in a better position to take advantage of better luck in 2020, but given the limited options for this offseason, that optimism can feel far fetched. Anielle Piro offers a pessimistic view here, although I think it’s a piece entirely reasonable in its pessimism.
There are two points that stuck out. The first is when Piro writes that the Rockies are not rebuilding, but that they are “stuck in limbo.” Even if you don’t believe that the Rockies should do a full-blown teardown and rebuild where they tank for years, you can agree that the middle ground in Major League Baseball is the worst place to be. You’re still too far from the true contenders but you don’t have a way to build up the assets to get up to that level.
The other point Piro makes is that it feels like the Rockies are just hoping to get lucky. That’s what it feels like to me when Bridich appears to plan to move forward with largely the same roster while just saying the players need to stay healthier and be better. That’s not a plan, certainly not a good one, and it makes it hard to think the Rockies are headed for anything other than mediocrity.