The Colorado Rockies are not the only National League West franchise with speculated tensions running high in the front office. The Padres’ A.J. Preller and Rockies’ Jeff Bridich are general managers looking to pull their teams out of the divisional abyss. Both have serious reason to do it now, and we are all left to speculate which one is in a worse position.
Padres chairman Ron Fowler said of his team in a press conference introducing new manager Jayce Tingler: “We were an embarrassment the last three or four weeks of the season, and we’re not going to do that again.”
With a golden burrito of cap space taken up by Manny Machado and a dead-last divisional finish to the Padres’ name, a bleak situation in San Diego may provide subtle relief to anxious Rockies fans. Former Padre skipper Bud Black has led the Rockies to the playoffs multiple times, where San Diego hasn’t been since 2006.
The step backwards the Rockies took this year shows that feeling of relief to be much more subtle than the anxious fan would like, however. Both the Rockies and Padres signed a serious third baseman, both turned heads forking over lots of cash to get them, but only one of those teams finished significantly worse than 2018.
Petco Park attendance rose nearly 3,000 a game from 2018 to 2019, the third highest increase in baseball—it can be largely attributed to the Machado signing. There are plenty of conceivable thoughts for why a typical franchise would sign a 10-year, $300 million free agent, but the Padres circumstance could be more unique than what meets the eye: once the Chargers left, the Padres may have seen prime opportunity to cement San Diego as a baseball town.
Either way, Machado isn’t a fresh new face anymore, and those attendance figures could be on the decline in the wake of their dismal 2019 finish. It could mean crunch time for a team fighting to monopolize their own pro sports monopoly in San Diego.
They have announced they’re bringing back the brown uniforms, however.
Colorado saw reasonably close attendance figures between 2018 successes and 2019 digressions—a miracle considering the latter season was one game out of the divisional cellar.
The Rockies have yet to make many changes, aside from Darryl Scott being named bullpen coach last week. The Padres have—manager, uniforms and all—but Colorado’s one-year playoff absence puts the 13-year San Diego drought to shame. If Matt Holliday really didn’t touch home plate 12 years ago, maybe they can still tag him out.
Darryl Scott will don a big league uniform next year, after his tenure as minor league pitching coach and coordinator since 2009. It may prove some comfort that the Rockies pitching staff will see a familiar face in the bullpen, after many Rockies arms and likely arms-to-be have played under Scott’s instruction. With the third highest reliever ERA this past season, Colorado’s bullpen is a key piece of this franchise worthy of attention.
With Scott having been in the organization for over a decade, the Rockies elect an inside hire rather than pursuing an outside candidate. It isn’t to say Scott isn’t qualified—honestly, he could very well be the most qualified person since he knows many of these pitchers already. It still remains interesting to track the hiring of coaches and managers to the Rockies in their history, from inside the organization or out. Bud Black was an outside hire, and even his managerial history included time in the NL West preceding his time in Colorado.