“That was our goal this year, coming off of back-to-back playoff appearances, feeling like we could maintain that and hopefully build off that. That hasn’t changed at all.”
Whether or not Jeff Bridich can continue his spoken optimism is what stands as the news. We are in peak offseason form, as Arenado trade rumors, a lack of additional catching, and little alterations from 2019 leave us to question the sincerity of that Bridich comment day after day, week after week.
Divisional rival San Diego shelled out $300 million for 10 years of Manny Machado last winter, and their front office has lit a fire to make something happen. Divisional rival Arizona just put Madison Bumgarner’s name on $85 million over five years. The Dodgers have won the division seven consecutive times. With multiple competitors in the division dropping hints toward contention, how much of two Rockies wild card berths can truly be maintained?
There are two directions the Rockies could go, and they are highly apparent: they can push forward with the hand they’ve been dealt, or throw in their cards and re-deal. Both sides of the spectrum are worthy of reason after 2019.
What a difference a year makes.
Colorado currently has the sixth highest payroll in the National League, second highest in the NL West behind only the Dodgers. Four of the top eight payrolls in the NL are in the NL West. The 2020 postseason odds paint a different picture than the money would suggest, however, as three NL West teams make up the bottom third in NL Pennant favorites. Arizona (25/1) and Los Angeles (5/2) are the outliers.
This prophecy would reason the Rockies as the team with the spending of the Padres and the optimism of the Giants. Given the way odds have been set, it seems the ‘Dodgers vs. Everybody’ premise is still alive and well.
The eternal optimist would reason that anything can happen, and many key pieces of back-to-back Colorado postseasons remain intact. Irregardless, Jeff Bridich finds himself in a fragile position, given the 2017 and 2018 success reasons for something worth fighting for. Bridich is left to determine what to preserve, where to spend, and even how a rebuild could be possible, with so much money already allocated for guys like Nolan Arenado and an expensive bullpen. It’s hard to rebuild if you can’t move the pieces you already have.
San Francisco won the World Series in 2014 after finishing fourth in the NL West the previous year. Drastic turnarounds like that are uncommon, but they resonate as case studies breathing life into Rockies optimism for 2020.
In the words of Bridich at season’s end: “I think we have a huge window of time.” We wait for next spring, hoping those words ring sincere.
Nolan Arenado is named the greatest Rockie of the decade. Given that all seven of his seasons came in the 2010’s, there’s little surprise for his high regard. Troy Tulowitzki is named second—a couple strong years of his came before 2010 and are ruled obsolete for the ‘decade’ criteria, as are his two postseason appearances in Colorado.
Jhoulys Chacín is labeled eighth on the list. He posted a 5.40 ERA and 0.3 WAR in 2014, his final year in Colorado—he then went on a roller coaster ride between the Diamondbacks, Indians, Braves, Padres, Brewers and Red Sox to close out this decade. Many of Chacín’s career successes came after his time with the Rockies, most notably as part of a 2018 Brewers playoff team. Chacín posted five shutout frames in 2018 NLDS Game 2—against the Rockies. He never appeared in a playoff game for Colorado.
According to The Athletic, the Rockies are apparently “thinking about” moving Coors Field fences in. The Athletic also requires a paid subscription to view pretty much everything of theirs, so be advised before believing this has a momentous following; one Google news search for ‘Coors Field fences’ and this article is the only thing that comes up.
(Let this remind us of the importance of keeping the ‘free’ in free press: ’free’ can report the truth, while ‘paid’ has to fight for attention in many respects).
A fence adjustment inward would cause high home run totals to skyrocket even further. Moving fences back would allow even the most Texan of Texas League popups to drop for a hit. The only logical solution to adequately address both would be to raise the fence itself; this happened once in 2016, without obstructing fan views. Raising the fences elsewhere would result in obstructed sight lines for some outfield seats.
One potentially disregarded Coors Field factor is the concept that hitters are pitched differently at Coors Field than they are at other ballparks. This can reason why certain home and road splits for Rockies hitters are as wide as they are, even after the ballpark is statistically accounted for. A fence adjustment may alter this effect ever so slightly, but given the inherent ballpark setup at Coors Field, there are clear limitations.