I should start with things that I am thankful for when it comes to the Rockies. In addition to all that Purple Row’s Eric Fayeulle listed in Thursday’s Thanksgiving Rockpile, I still love Charlie Blackmon, Coors Field, the unique black and purple color combination the Rockies have, the lasting memories of the 2007 Rocktober run, and playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018. That being said, my feelings towards the Rockies took a dark turn upon learning about general manager Jeff Bridich’s latest stunt — a last-minute, no-question-answering, conference call with the media on Thanksgiving eve.
The Denver Post’s Sean Keeler rightly ripped who he calls “The Brain Surgeon” for his cowardice and unwillingness to answer questions about any of his decisions, the direction of the franchise, or anything that aren’t “very specific things for us to talk about right now in terms of the trade and the roster protection moves last week,” as Bridich said in the call.
The lack of accountability or the ability to abide by norms every other GM not only in the MLB, but all professional sports have to do — deal with media and face consequences for decisions and losing seasons — is appalling. I know I have written about this before and sound like a broken record at this point, but when Bridich pulls moves like this, Rockies fans shouldn’t sit by and just accept this way of running the franchise. This situation is on Bridich and it’s also on Dick Monfort for allowing it lockstep through blind loyalty or foolish obedience.
Last Cyber Monday — back in the before-times of 2019, which I think was at least 27 years ago — I bought tickets to several Rockies games. Obviously, that didn’t work out and I ended up just getting refunds throughout the year. This year, I’ll pass. Not only because of the uncertainly of fans in a 2021 season, but also because I can’t throw money at a team that treats its fans and reporters who cover the team this way. Clearly, my few bucks won’t make a big difference, but at least I’ll feel better.
I think fans can understand that 2020 has been brutal with a shortened season without ticket revenue and we don’t blame the Rockies for any of that. I think fans would be willing to give grace and patience on the challenges facing all teams in the MLB. But not inciting discontent from a franchise third baseman and constant, self-induced dismissal of media or fans who dare to question the slightest moves by the front office. As Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling put it, “expect the offseason to be much like things developed on Wednesday: If/when things happen, you will likely hear about it with very little notice. And, yes, you can forget about hearing anything in regards to the disappointing 2020 season.”
Bridich only wanted to talk about recent roster moves and how he’s liked Robert Stephenson (who the Rockies acquired in the Jeff Hoffman trade on Wednesday) a since 2011. Let’s not even get into Stephenson’s 9.90 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 10 innings in 2020. That’s not the point here and it’s not like the Rockies could get a whole lot for Hoffman, who had a 9.28 ERA and 1.922 WHIP in 21 1/3 innings in 2020. The point, seemingly, is that because Bridich led the Rockies to back-to-back playoffs in 2017-18, he’s now the judge, jury, and executioner for the entire Rockies organization. Instead of having a grateful, light attitude toward the Rockies, I feel like Bridich is performing the Rolling Stone’s “Paint it, Black” on the entire franchise.
It indeed feels like a Rockies Black Friday. This not about any deals at the Dugout store, which aren’t very tempting when you are worried that the team’s biggest stars might be on the move soon and another losing season is on deck. It’s worse.
The exact origin of the term “Black Friday” is a little more complicated than I ever realized (check out this History.com article if you are interested). The phrase first represented a greedy gold buy up and ensuing Wall Street crash in 1869. In the 1950s, it became a code word coined by Philadelphia police describing a chaotic combination of Army-Navy football fans, shoppers, and tourists flooding into the city and forcing them to work overtime on the day after Thanksgiving. In the 1980s, the transformation to the era where retailers can move out of the “red” (debt) into the “black” (profits) started, resulting in big sales and long lines.
While the history lesson is kind of interesting, it seems incredibly symbolic to the state of the Rockies. In the last few years, the Rockies went out and bought up all the over-priced, past-their-prime veterans, most notably the fab five of Wade Davis (3 years, $52 million), Bryan Shaw (3 years, $27 million), Jake McGee (3 years, $27 million, Ian Desmond (5 years, $70 million), and Daniel Murphy (2 years, $24 million). While it worked in the very short team, the moves led to an epic Blake Street collapse in the prime of some of the organization’s best players (at least Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story) and the Rockies saying their strapped budget prevented any significant offseason moves before the 2020 season. Add the COVID-19 debts, and the Rockies are in the red and probably will be for a long time despite four of the fab five being gone now. (Side note: Last year, Rox Pile’s Aaron Hunt pitched the five players, plus Blackmon, in a Black Friday clearance sale. It is really great that four of those players are gone, and also interesting that all four are currently free agents. Shockingly, there are still no takers (though McGee did have some success with the Dodgers).
While other teams are making innovative moves like the Marlins in hiring Kim Ng, or making tough calls like the Cubs firing Theo Epstein, the Rockies are holding firm in failure and making it worse by the day.
It’s not just Black Friday. It’s a black offseason without a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Like the article says, this is a rough year and giving to others is more important than ever. The MLB did just that with teams pairing up with community organizations to give out turkeys and groceries, giving out gifts and gift cards to veterans and their families, helping kids and families in hospitals, and numerous other good deeds.
Yency Almonte represented the Rockies and hosted a Thanksgiving Giveaway in his hometown Miami with the local Boys & Girls club. Check out the video here.
Fun, but possibly depressing concept here. So you take all the players your team lost through trades or free agency and see what team could field the best lineup. Since it always seems like many Rockies can’t make it in Colorado, but then go on to thrive elsewhere, I was worried the Rockies would top the charts. Great news: The Rockies aren’t even in the running. The Dodgers took the NL West title, which sounds all too familiar, but it also quite a statement considering how good their World Series winning lineup is and that their castoffs are also very talented with guys like Manny Machado, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Ken Maeda. The Diamondbacks took the NL Wildcard, but the Athletic staff gives the title to the Marlins, which makes sense after their recent house cleaning and an outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna.
The Athletic’s only notable castoff for the Rockies is DJ LaMahieu (very noteable) with an honorable mention for Drew Pomeranz. Here is the lineup:
C: Tom Murphy
1B: Gerardo Parra
2B: DJ LeMahieu
SS: Daniel Descalso
3B: Pat Valakia
OF: Dexter Fowler
OF: Corey Dickerson
OF: Mike Tauchman
SP: Brett Anderson
RP: Drew Pomeranz
I think Dickerson is really solid and miss Gerardo Parra in the clubhouse, but I am not sure about him at first base. Fowler has also had a solid career, even if it is mostly behind him at this point. Are there other former Rockies that you think are greater losses?
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