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Rockies fans deserve better

Denver is a great sports town, and it deserves a winning baseball team.

On Sunday as the Colorado Avalanche were winning their first Stanley Cup in 21 years, the Rockies were flying home to Denver from Minneapolis, having gone 1-5 on their road trip and 10-for-55 with runners in scoring position. Their record is 31-42 (12-23 away from Coors Field), and they have sole possession of the NL West basement.

Consider some specifics. The team that plays half its games at Coors Field has hit 64 home runs — that’s 23rd in baseball. In addition, they have the second-highest GB% (46.6%), just behind the Nationals (46.8%). So the team that stands to gain the most from hitting the ball in the air cannot, in fact, hit the ball in the air. Exacerbating these problems problems, they are not hitting the ball hard — the Rockies are 24th with a HH% of 28.1%. They are tied with the Twins for fewest bases stolen, and only four players have a wRC+ of more than 100.

Perhaps you’d like to look at defensive stats. The Rockies lead the league in errors with 58 — and it’s not close. (The Pirates are second, having committed 53 errors.) They are 21st in DRS (-2) and 27th in Outs Above Average (-18). The Rockies, always a team with stellar infield defense, are too often besieged by defensive miscues.

The starting pitching has been uneven while the bullpen has the second-highest ERA in baseball.

The Rockies just never seem to get the pieces to work together.

They are headed for their fourth-consecutive losing season, and the postseason trips of 2017 and 2018 are distant memories. Cornerstone players have left (e.g., Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Jon Gray), and who can blame them?

Colorado Rockies fans deserve better.

It’s not about money. This year, the Monforts have shown a willingness to spend money — and while it’s too soon to evaluate Kris Bryant’s contract (7 years for $182 million), the initial results are not promising. Echoes of Ian Desmond, anyone? Moreover, the Rays are consistently able to put together winning teams while spending fewer resources, so it’s not about spending the money. Rather, it’s about how that money is spent.

This is also about player development and an insular system that refuses to evolve and welcome new ideas. I just finished reading Pedro Moura’s How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink. (Look for a review in July.) As a Rockies fan, it’s impossible to read that book, knowing what we already know about the Dodgers’ system and the way in which it has influenced other organizations in baseball, and see the Rockies as a competitive team.

To be clear, the Colorado Rockies are a cash cow. Right now, the Rockies are eighth in MLB attendance, with an average attendance of 31,797. Turns out, a baseball team with a consistently losing record still brings in crowds.

We deserve better.

I feel like I’ve been positive and patient, but I’m tired of “In my heart, I think this is a good team” platitudes and beautiful pictures of Colorado sunsets with heart emojis and City Connect uniforms to keep those merch sales hopping. So I would respectfully like to make a few suggestions

  1. Fire Dave Magadan: No Colorado Rockies baseball team should produce offensive numbers this bad, especially not in consecutive years. The Diamondbacks improved after his termination. It’s time for the Rockies to follow suit.
  2. Fix the R&D department: No one knows what’s happening in the Rockies analytics department — just that Scott Van Lenten is no longer with the team — but it needs to be fortified and allowed to do its job. The questions about playing at elevation have gone unanswered long enough. Find some answers, and weaponize Coors Field.
  3. Have a fire sale before the trade deadline: This one is new for me, but I’ve seen enough. With the exception of the starting rotation (I think those players are too valuable to this franchise), I’m willing to trade anyone. Of course, no one is going to take Kris Bryant or Charlie Blackmon, which is fine, but any other player — CJ Cron, Yonathan Daza, Daniel Bard — the Rockies should be willing to make trades that bring new prospects into the system.
  4. Start letting younger players play: It’s time to see what the kids can do in Denver (e.g., Elehuris Montero) and to promote others in the system that are clearly ready to advance (e.g., Coco Montes).
  5. #FireTheMonforts (from baseball decisions): I realize that the default is #SellTheTeam, but let’s not kid ourselves: The Monforts are not selling the Rockies. #FireTheMonfortsFromBaseballDecisions strikes me as a bit more, well, realistic (even if it means a long hashtag).

Rockies fans want this:

And this:

Except with Kyle Freeland, Germán Márquez, and the Commissioner’s Trophy. The reality, however, is a bit different.

After the Avs clinched the Stanley Cup, @jenfrmthblck tweeted this terrific pic capturing the celebrations in LoDo:

Don’t miss Coors Field there in the background, a monument to a team that has neither won an NL West Pennant nor a World Series game.

It doesn’t have to be like that. In 2016-2017, the Avalanche had the worst team in hockey, scoring only 48 points. Now, the Avs are bringing the Stanley Cup home to Denver while 23-year-old Cale Makar sets the hockey world on fire.

The Nuggets have the made the playoffs since 2018 and have the greatest basketball player in the world with Nikola Jokić.

When they again have a healthy roster, they will be formidable.

Let’s not forget the Broncos have signed Russell Wilson, so hope is in the air.

It’s time for the Rockies to take the steps to win a World Series, not just let the owner introduce Kris Bryant and say, “The goal is to win the World Series.” Talk doesn’t get it done. Action does.

It’s time for the Rockies to get serious.

Denver is a great sports town, and we all deserve better.