As the Rockies remain committed to occupying the space between a full on rebuild and committing to improving their current squad, I alternate between what I think is the best approach. Today, I took to determining the pros of phoning it in for the next few seasons in exchange for a new contention window down the road. The overall concept of entering a rebuild is, in and of itself, a con. But when you peel back the layers, there are some silver linings which would make the rebuild worth a go.
For one, the fanbase would finally feel like the team was taking control of the future as opposed to standing pat and seeing what happens. Having a direction won’t drive fans to the stadium the same way that Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story do, but a rebuild would at least save fans from the purgatory in which they currently reside as a result of the club’s inaction. Trading away those two pieces (and potentially more) would devastate the team’s supporters, but at least the Rockies would be losing games while working towards a brighter future, as opposed to the last two seasons where they were just losing.
Despite the abysmal record, the 2020 season featured a couple bright spots for the Rockies: there was the 12-3 start to the year, Charlie Blackmon hitting .500 through the early part of the season, and Kyle Freeland’s return to form similar to his 2018 season. But perhaps the strongest moment for the team came during the draft in the form of Zac Veen, their first round pick (9th overall). Other young players such as Ryan McMahon or Brendan Rodgers could be building blocks for a post-Arenado/Story team, but Veen has the potential to be the next true face of Rockies baseball. Justin Wick made a convincing argument for why the Rockies need to do what they can to keep the competitive window open for Veen’s arrival, but if that isn’t something the club can accomplish, a rebuild would allow the team to develop a young, strong core around Veen that can take the league by storm.
The potential to win also stands as a pro to a prospective rebuild for the Rockies. There is no proven recipe for a successful rebuild, but embracing some heavy losing seasons has often yielded long-term success for MLB clubs. The Astros were the laughing stock of baseball in the early 2010s, but were rewarded in the latter part of the decade when they cemented themselves as the best team in the American League. The cheating scandal casts as a shadow over the results, but their 2020 trip to the ALCS suggests the rebuild yielded them a plethora of talent, trash can banging or not. Similarly, the Padres seem to be headed on a similar trajectory. While we do not have the foresight to know what the next five years will hold for them, a drawn out stretch of losing and accumulating young talent, paired with a couple of high profile trades and free-agent signings and it looks like they’ll be a force in the National League for years to come.
The upside of those Padres paired with the seemingly infinite supply of talent in the Dodgers organization are painful reminders that even if every individual on the Rockies plays to their full potential (a big ask) the team is going to have some serious competition in the NL West. That’s without touching the Diamondbacks or Giants, who provide roadblocks of their own. The initial sting of losing the team’s star players would be heartbreaking for Rockies fans, but the bleak short-term outlook, strong competition, and general uncertainty of the club make a rebuild not as offensive an option as I would have thought had you suggested it before the 2020 season.
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While the 2020 calendar caused me to miss a festivus themed article by one day, that didn’t stop our friends over at RoxPile from airing their Rockies grievances yesterday. The central complaint came in the form of the simple question “what the heck are the Colorado Rockies doing?” The article points to the supposed plan to pursue Kevin Pillar, the team’s insistence on blocking young talent with below average major-league talent, and the D.J. LeMahieu defacto swap for Daniel Murphy as the most confusing decisions, but the list doesn’t end there. Signing Ian Desmond to a $70 million contract brings up bad feelings and the latest decision to let David Dahl go elsewhere didn’t pacify many.
The fact of the matter is, the fan base continues to grow more and more frustrated with each passing day, and sometimes, the only effective way to manage that anger is to channel our inner Frank Constanza and let it all out.
Honestly, it’s exhausting to try and keep pace with all the Nolan Arenado rumors that, presumably, will only grow after the holidays, but if the Rockies are going to hit the path towards a rebuild, it’s going to involve Nolan. A three team trade seems to have emerged as the latest concoction for teams hoping to snag the All-Star third baseman while not saddling themselves with his mammoth contract. Other than the Mets, there’s no clear indication as to who may find their way into this three-way trading operation, but it certainly brings up a whole new slew of potential partners if the Rockies do decide to go this route.
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