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What the Rockies can learn from the Texas Rangers

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, November 6, 2023

It took 51 years, but the Texas Rangers finally have their first World Series championship after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks in five games last week. After losing back-to-back fall classics in 2010 and 2011, the Rangers finally broke through in their third attempt and after posting a losing record for the last six seasons with a winning percentage < .420 in four of them.

It was a remarkable turnaround for the franchise, one that seemingly occurred overnight. But when you take the time to evaluate the franchise’s moves and decisions, it begins to make a lot of sense on how they were able to turn the direction of the franchise around in such quick order.

The conversation on how the Rangers built a championship team has to begin with the 2021 offseason – when they splurged over a half-billion dollars on Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and former Colorado Rockies starter Jon Gray.

It was a daring and very expensive attempt to return to relevance, one that was met with mixed reviews. They lost 94 games in their first season with a newly-bloated payroll, but doubled-down on the strategy that offseason by investing nearly $250MM to their rotation – $185MM going to prized free agent Jacob deGrom.

But they also made franchise-altering decisions off the field that offseason, firing longtime GM Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward, replacing them with former big leaguer Chris Young for the GM role and the legendary Bruce Bouchy to take over in the dugout.

These additions are what seemed to be the real keys to Texas’ turnaround. deGrom lasted a grand total of 30 ⅓ IP before needing to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Yet, the Rangers were still able to lean on their star position players signed in free agency while also developing the talent around them to help reinforce the lineup.

Josh Jung, Jonah Heim, Leody Taveras, Evan Carter and Adolis Garcia all played pivotal roles in making the Rangers a daunting lineup during the season. While not all of them were originally Texas products, they all thrived as Rangers largely due to the fresh organizational philosophy brought in by Young, Bouchy and the rest of the new management regime.

Texas winning the 2023 World Series is good for baseball. Before, it was easy to lump them and the San Diego Padres into the same conversation. Big spenders that were trying to cut corners and buy their way into contention rather than developing a strong roster on their own (similar to how the Diamondbacks are currently constructed).

But what made the Rangers different is the willingness to stick-with and develop their internal pieces to pair with their headline free agent additions. While the Padres emptied their farm system and roster depth to acquire Juan Soto, Joe Musgrove, Josh Hader and others, the Rangers had a plan to pair their prospects with marquee free agent additions. That and key trade acquisitions during the season like SP Jordan Montgomery resulted in a bonafide World Series winner.

So, with all of Texas’ foundation laid…how does this apply to the Rockies?

Well, the Rockies are in the middle of their own drought with five straight losing campaigns including a franchise-worst .364 winning percentage in 2023. There is little indication that they will be significantly better in 2024, meaning the big-league team is likely stuck in the mud for at least another year.

The silver lining in this scenario are the assets the organization can accumulate during this period. This process has already begun for the Rockies in a few stages. The 2022 MLB draft saw four of the top-50 selections come to the Colorado organization and the team brought in multiple pitchers during the 2023 trade deadline after departing with relievers Brad Hand and Pierce Johnson along with position players C.J. Cron and Randall Grichuk — all players on expiring contracts.

This is the start of the rebuild for the Rockies, even if they don’t care to call it that. The team has begun to bring in more pieces to help build a more competitive future for the organization, which is the right direction to choose at this juncture of the franchise.

They also believe to have a key free agent acquisition to help reinforce the emerging prospects in Kris Bryant — who is signed to a larger contact than Texas agreed to with Semien — but that has yet to produce the desired results.

However, if Bryant’s first two seasons with the Rockies are any indication, there is still considerably more needed to help improve the franchise. There is a fine first step being taken in terms of quantity, but when the times comes to bolster that talent with established quality veterans — or new leadership — the Rockies cannot be afraid to make that commitment if they truly intend to be title contenders. The Texas Rangers made that choice when the time came, and the results speak for themselves.

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Rockies’ rookie Brenton Doyle wins Gold Glove in center field | The Denver Post

On Sunday, Brenton Doyle was named the National League Rawling’s Gold Glove award winner for the Center Field position in the National League. He is the second Rockies’ rookie to win the award, with the other being third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Rockies Journal: Rangers’ Jon Gray gets World Series ring, slays his demons | The Denver Post

Patrick Saunders overview’s Jon Gray’s time with the Rockies and progress of his career...all leading to a World Series championship with the Texas Rangers.

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Pebble Report: Arizona Fall League

It was a short week for the Salt River Rafters, who went 1-2 and now sit in third place at 14-14. The AZFL All Star Game was on Sunday, with the Rockies being represented by four prospects. At the plate, Benny Montgomery and Sterlin Thompson went hitless although Thompson did draw a walk. On the mound, Case Williams pitched one inning, giving up a solo homer with one strikeout while Juan Mejia struck out two in his perfect inning.

2023 AFL Hitters (Season to Date)

Benny Montgomery 26/78 3 14 27 10
Sterlin Thompson 27/80 0 18 24 7
Drew Romo 9/39 0 8 9 1

2023 AFL Pitchers (Season to Date)

Alec Barger 8/0 9.1 2/1 2 13
Jaden Hill 11/0 11.1 6/4 4 13
Chris McMahon 5/1 8.2 10/0 4 8
Juan Mejia 8/0 8.1 3/2 9 16
Case Williams 6/6 17 6/6 9 16

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