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Bud Black thinks the Rockies are contenders

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Rockies news and links for Thursday, December 17, 2020

On a day in which the Rockies were the talk of the league for, you guessed it, Nolan Arenado trade rumors, Bud Black (virtually) took a seat in front of the media and answered questions. Here are the three biggest takeaways from his hour in the hot seat:

He Expects Nolan and Trevor to be Rockies Come Opening Day

“They’re great players, they’re great Rockies. I anticipate them being on the team.”

That’s about as straightforward as you can get. Sure, there wasn’t really an answer other than this that Bud Black could have given, but every little bit of reassurance was necessary on a day like yesterday. Rockies fans continue to be confused about the direction of this team and the constant chatter about losing one or two of their top players is exhausting.

Black doesn’t have a big say in whether or not they actually do get traded, but the fact that he seems to think they’ll make it through this winter while wearing purple is at minimum, not a bad sign. He went on to talk about the club’s view that those two paired with Charlie Blackmon still serve as the core of this Rockies team and will hold down the middle part of the order in the 2021 season.

Assuming he’s right about the team’s ability to hold onto their all-star left side of the infield, that means this team still thinks they have a chance to be good next year. Which brings us to our next takeaway.

The Window for Contention is Still Open

The exact quote from Black was, “I’d like to think we’re still in that window. Again, there’s a lot of the key players that we’ve had, you know, attain that success the last couple of years are still with us.”

Am I skeptical of this one? A little bit. Am I still scarred from last winter’s do nothing approach? Absolutely. Do I think the Rockies in their current form have a shot at competing with the World Series Champion Dodgers and up and coming Padres? Not particularly, but last night Bud Black once again pointed out the fact that the team believes they have the necessary pieces, and they’re just waiting for it to all come together. When speaking about the Rockies’ NL West rivals, Bud had this to say, “I think we’re gonna be better than we were last year.”

When addressing the Arenado/Story rumors, Black pointed out the need for everybody else to step up to help those guys. That may be an understatement. If you ask me, it would take Hilliard, McMahon, Fuentes, Tapia and a few others all playing at their absolute highest levels, or close to it, to give this team a chance in the tough NL West, but to be “better than we were last year,” the Rockies can’t just rely on everyone else to magically put it all together.

Fortunately, Black had some good news regarding a couple of Rockies who we didn’t see much of last year, but could potentially give them the necessary push to at least improve on last year’s record.

Desmond and Oberg Could Both be Back in 2021

The Oberg news was quite possibly the best thing we learned on Wednesday, even if the basis for it was Bud Black’s intuition.

“My hope and my gut tells me that Oberg is gonna be fine.”

The more medically sound news from Black however was his report that the medical staff and physical therapy trainer believe Scott Oberg is in a really good spot after playing catch and picking up the intensity this winter. The Rockies bullpen was a disaster last year and getting Oberg back would be a huge win for the club that wouldn’t require them to spend any money on a free agent. One guy won’t fix it all but it certainly would be a step in the right direction for a relief corps that desperately needs it.

On the Desmond front, there was no official announcement, but the manager said he’s been in touch with Ian and the conversations they have had leads him to believe that he’ll be back on the field with the Rockies in 2021. Desmond’s first three years in Colorado left the team wanting more, but he is still a two time All-Star and with David Dahl now headed to the Rangers, the Rockies outfield will be a little less crowded, perhaps giving Desmond the chance to show he’s still got something left in the tank after electing to skip the 2020 season (a year in which he spent a lot of time giving back, a venture he detailed in this Instagram post yesterday.)

Nothing Bud Black said yesterday is likely to change the sour taste fans have these days, but it was nice to see someone from the club speaking with the media, even if Jeff Bridich remains M.I.A.

★ ★ ★

Power Ranking Every MLB Franchise over the Last 5 Seasons | Bleacher Report

If I’m being honest, I expected the Rockies to be so much lower down on this list than they actually were. I’m ashamed to admit I fell victim to some recency bias here as the last two seasons of bad baseball (and more so bad management) have effectively wiped clean my memory of the franchise-first back-to-back postseason appearances from 2017 and 2018.

The Rockies’ .494 winning percentage in the last half-decade places them as the 15th best team from a win-loss standpoint in that time frame and their ranking at 16th in this list doesn’t range far from that. These days, it’s easy to forget how fun 2017 and 2018 were. Story, Arenado, and Blackmon tore up opposing pitching, the pitching held relatively steady, and the rest of the lineup made the necessary contributions to give this team hope, but those seasons feel like a distant memory. Remembering this formula that led to the franchise’s best stretch in history is one of the few things that gives me hope for 2021.

Rockies ‘want to engage’ Mets in trade talks for Nolan Arenado: Report | Yahoo Sports

There were oh so many articles to choose from when trying to give a glimpse into the rumor that came today suggesting the Rockies were hoping to get the New York Mets involved in trade talks for Nolan Arenado. Believe it or not, none of them had encouraging news for the Rockies (good thing Bud Black shut that all down).

A few reports seemed to think Robinson Canó would be a central piece in that trade to counter some of the insane financial obligation Nolan comes with, but that better just be a rumor given that Canó is in the middle of serving a 162 game suspension for a failed drug test. That suspension came during the 60-game 2020 season but still has 113 games remaining. Sure, Canó had the most hits in the 2010 decade (kind of surprising, right?) but I’ll be absolutely devastated if the Rockies end up with him at the same time they lose Nolan. Please Bud Black, be right about Nolan staying if the contrary means Robinson Canó coming to Coors Field.

★ ★ ★

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