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The Rockies are at a fork in the road

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Sunday, August 1, 2021

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the titular character Alice comes across a fork in the road and has a conversation with a Cheshire cat. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

Now that the Trade Deadline has come and gone and the Rockies stood idly by, and there are still two months of the season left, this particular literature situation kept coming to mind. It dawned on me that the Rockies, like Alice, are currently facing a proverbial fork in the road and must now decide where it is they want to end up as a franchise. The two paths before them are meant to lead them to success or failure and it’s critical that the Rockies take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror and decide where they want to go.

Who’s in charge?

For just the second time in franchise history, the Rockies will be holding interviews for a new general manager. This is perhaps one of the most critical decisions in team history as it will signal the direction this team wants to take. As of now, the assumption is that the job is interim general manager Bill Schmidt’s to lose, which immediately doesn’t bode well for the club.

The team has already lost a number of front office staff members this season and are once again playing a disappointing season, and yet are content with having the same old voices from within building the team. There is a chance they hire from outside the organization, but there is a strong likelihood that they will have previous experience working for the Rockies. A new voice with strong baseball knowledge and a modern approach to analytics would pay huge dividends for the team but the elephant in the room remains; Richard L. Monfort.

If this team is to evolve and progress, Mr. Monfort will need to stop meddling in baseball affairs and allow a team president and general manager to create and realize a vision for the team. There must be a clear line of authority to turn the team into a well-oiled machine that can work well with other organizations. At the very least, Monfort will just need to stop running the Rockies like a money-making machine and put some serious effort into building a high-quality product on the field that can compete. A clear vision of the Rockies front office is the first step to deciding where they want to go as a team.

A team worth fighting for

The on-field product is another great indication of what direction this team will go. We have heard Monfort and several general managers mention after a disappointing season that they are just a few pieces away from contention and are built to be a World Series contending team.

However, if you’ve been a few pieces away from contention every year for well over a decade, I don’t think you’re built to compete for a World Series. We’ve heard them mention how they are dedicated to bringing a championship to Colorado, and yet they have never won the division or won more than 92 games. Solving the problem of roster construction will help this team win more games, but in order to do that, they must learn to make decisions with logic and for the absolute best interests of the organization.

If they want to choose the path of success, it will mean building a strong farm system and analytical department. They will need to focus on who will be the next cornerstones of the franchise. Zac Veen is just one of several prospects that figures to be a big contributor to a competitive Rockies team, so they need to make sure they are prepared for when that time comes to build around him and others.

Many of us have accepted the fact that the Rockies will never go out and sign the big-name free agents, and that’s fine, but with a strong analytics and scouting department, they can learn how to fix reclamation projects and find hidden gems on the market like the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers have done before. But the fact remains, if the Rockies don’t begin taking an honest look at the product they are putting out on the field, they are just destined for more of the same. Underperforming veterans well past their prime on ludicrous deals that block younger players from being able to excel and gain experience are not a recipe for success.

What is your goal?

Ultimately, this is the definitive question that the Cheshire cat asks Alice. The Rockies say their goal is to win a championship, but their actions say otherwise. Their reluctance to come out and say “we are going to rebuild for the future” simply hinders the team and handcuffs their ability to build for that future. Their habits of being reluctant to sell off valuable pieces to stock the farm, as we just saw this week, are evidence of that reluctance and fear of the word “rebuild.” If the Rockies truly want to become a contender and fill the stadium with purple every single homestand, they need to make their intentions clear; do they want to win or not? Only then will they be able to accept their course of action and put in an honest effort like the Seattle Mariners.

In my heart, I truly do believe that Dick Monfort and company care about winning, otherwise why be involved with a competitive sport? You never hear a contestant on a game show say “I came here to lose!” They need to make their goal clear and have a plan to achieve that goal. No longer can the Rockies survive on good intentions and simply float through the National League West like a bag tossed in the wind. If they want to win, they need to start making the changes and decisions that can lead them there. Whatever the Rockies choose to do, they need to go all-in with no regrets.

The unknown is scary, especially when it comes to professional sports and the money involved. But the worthwhile pursuits require a leap of faith and commitment to a goal, no matter how daunting or scary it may be. What you give, pales in comparison to what you receive, whether it be your star player for quality prospects or vice versa when the time is right. The Rockies will need to make those difficult decisions as an organization and decide which way they want to go, because, if they don’t know or don’t care, then it really doesn’t matter what road they take.

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Jeff Bridich’s final failure as Rockies GM is now Bill Schmidt’s first | The Denver Post ($)

The Grading the Week crew took a look at the Rockies’ moves at the trade deadline and they got a big fat ‘F’ for their troubles. In the article, they mention that the failures of Jeff Bridich still hang heavy of the Rockies as a result of the Arenado deal, which many assume killed any chance of Story saying in Colorado after this season. Many feel that Bill Schmidt overplayed his hand and came away empty and his failures this past week don’t bode well for the team going forward.

Trevor Story, another isolated star, can’t understand the Rockies | The Athletic ($)

Nick Groke of The Athletic does a fantastic job summarizing and painting the picture of Trevor Story’s feelings about the Trade Deadline and really the whole situation brewing in Colorado. Story believed he would be traded, spending all season with that in mind. Groke also writes that Story knew that in order to improve his trade value, he would need to return quickly after injuring his elbow, even if it meant playing hurt. After Friday’s deadline, Story (like many fans in Colorado) is confused as to what the Rockies plan is, if there even is one.

Rival GMs laud flurry of Deadline deals | MLB.com

I love these types of articles that give an industry perspective when general managers express their thoughts on what is happening with other teams. There was applauding of the insane deals that the Yankees and Dodgers pulled off, as well as the quality pick-ups that some of the sellers at the deadline gained from their fire sales. Again, the rival general managers were again perplexed by the fact that the Rockies did not do anything, and instead held on to both Trevor Story and Jon Gray.

On the farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes vs. Salt Lake Bees (PPD due to weather. Makeup 8/1)

Double-A: Binghamton Rumble Ponies 6, Hartford Yard Goats 0

Matt Dennis tossed a solid five innings for Hartford, allowing no runs while scattering seven hits with three strikeouts. Unfortunately, Binghamton’s luck with the gathering hits got the best of Michael Baird (2 23 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 3 K) in the seventh and eighth innings and Yoan Aybar ( 23 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 2 BB) in the ninth inning to secure the victory. However, Hartford didn’t do much to provide support at the plate as they managed just a single hit that came in the ninth with one out off the bat of Casey Golden.

High-A: Spokane Indians 4, Vancouver Canadians 0

In his first start since being acquired from the Reds in the Mychal Givens trade, Spokane pitcher Noah Davis left a strong first impression. Davis tossed 6 13 innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out five. The Spokane offense was led by Isaac Collins who had a three-hit night and Aaron Shunk who had a big RBI triple in the early goings to extend Spokane’s lead early on.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 8, Lake Elsinore Storm 3

With the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a tie ballgame, Fresno batter Grant Lavigne blasted a Grand Slam to give Fresno the lead and ultimately the victory. Fresno tallied 13 hits as a team, with Lavigne going 2 for 5 with five runs batted in, and lead-off man Eddy Diaz having a four-hit night. On the pitching end of things, Blake Goldsberry went just two innings, allowing three runs on five hits, but that is all Lake Elsinore would get. Anderson Pilar got his fourth win of the year by throwing four clean innings of relief and giving Fresno the opportunity to have that five-run seventh innings.

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