Following the 2016 Cubs World Series win, I saw a tweet that has stuck with me to this day. Believe it or not, locating a four-year-old tweet from a random Twitter user is a tall order. But it went something like this…
Alright Theo, time to really prove your abilities. Come to Colorado and take the Rockies to the promised land.
Fast forward to 2020 and we’ve got a match made in heaven. Theo Epstein doesn’t have a job, and the Rockies are coming off a couple of tough seasons without a clear path forward.
Purple Row’s Joelle Milholm recently wrote about the “Jeff Bridich Ghosting Phenomenon” perfectly outlining the lack of transparency and communication coming from the the Rockies GM. The fact that Jeff Bridich has still not spoken to the media, and is the only MLB general manager to not have done so, causes serious concerns about club leadership.
The team is coming off their lowest win percentage since 2015, and is drowning in questions about the future. Can they afford to keep Trevor Story, as well as Nolan Arenado (or neither)? Do they even want to or is it time for a rebuild? How will COVID-19 impact the upcoming season, and those that follow? To sit back and say nothing to the press and fans, as a Major League general manager, is unacceptable.
So why not think about what the Rockies could be getting if they lured Theo Epstein to take over that void? He has nothing to prove, but a successful run with the Rockies would be arguably his most impressive feat yet.
Between the Red Sox and Cubs, Epstein has been the architect of teams that ended a combined 194 years worth of World Series droughts. He not only helped the Red Sox break the “Curse of the Bambino” just two years after his appointment as general manager, but he made them a perennial contender that won championships again in 2007 and laid the foundations for later World Series titles in 2013 and 2018.
As the President of Baseball Operations in the North Side of Chicago, it took Epstein five years to lead the Cubs to similar heights — a World Series title in 2016 sandwiched between NLCS appearances in 2015 and 2017.
With the Rockies, Epstein would be facing a much shorter championship-less stretch, but 27 years with no titles, only one World Series appearance, and zero division titles means fans are looking for a lot more.
The Rockies have a lot of strong pieces that I think make the club an appealing spot for Epstein’s third act. Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon are guaranteed top performers, and the rotation has as good a foundation as arguably any in Rockies history. A guy like Theo Epstein probably doesn’t want to just go to the team that’s already the best (sorry Dodgers) but going through a full rebuild probably isn’t his dream choice either. This means the Rockies could fall right in that sweet spot of being a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
While the odds of this actually happening are low, the Rockies’ talented core paired with Theo Epstein’s wizardry could lead to a very successful stretch for the ball club.
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I hate to spoil the surprise of who “this” is referring to in the above title, but the thought of having Carlos Santana tackle first base this season excited me enough to burst that bubble. If we start with the bad, Santana’s .199 average from the 2020 season is an ugly site to kick things off, but the silver lining here is that his poor performance during the 60 game schedule will make him a relatively cheap gamble for whichever team rolls the dice.
The upside on Santana is pretty high. He can play first base with the best of them and managed to lead the league in walks this past season in spite of his other offensive troubles. Rewind a little further and you have yourself a hitter who crushed 34 homers just one year prior in 2019. It still looks as if the Rockies won’t be spending much this offseason, but if they decide to go a little deeper into their pockets than expected Santana could serve as a great option for a team looking for offensive upgrades.
Last week Bleacher Report ranked the Rockies 20th in the DJ LeMahieu free agency sweepstakes. The ruling was quite similar in this week’s look at Marcell Ozuna where the Rockies moved up to 19th, unfortunately, in the articles “No Clear Fit” grouping. It looks as if this is the area where the Rockies will end up in free agent rankings throughout the offseason. The usual suspects of “no organizational plan”, “no strong desire to spend money”, and “no Story/Arenado certainty” means it’s hard to put the Rockies anywhere but the middle of articles like this. It’s unlikely they’ll ever be dead last, because they need help to support their strong core, but they don’t have a good enough shot at winning a World Series (for now) to make them a highly appealing destination. 19th sounds about right for landing Ozuna if you ask me.
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