As MLB owners and general managers gather for their annual November meetings, we get to see a more substantive “hot stove” as rumors take shape. Normally the Colorado Rockies remain largely obscure this time of year, but in 2013 they will be in the center of talks as the St. Louis Cardinals continue to show interest in trading for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports hit us with the most recent report this morning:
Officials from the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies are expected to meet at the GM/owners’ meetings in Orlando this week and discuss parameters of a potential trade involving Troy Tulowitzki, which already has been broached in informal talks between the parties, sources with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports…
“…St. Louis’ preference is to fill its gaping hole at shortstop with Tulowitzki, considered the best at the position in the major leagues. While Rockies ownership has said publicly it has no intentions of trading Tulowitzki, privately it continues to weigh advantages of freeing itself from the final seven years and $134 million guaranteed remaining on his contract against the loss of a superstar and the public-relations hit of trading a beloved homegrown player.”
Truth be told, Passan’s report felt more like a recap of what we already knew than anything we did not know. The St. Louis Cardinals want to trade for Tulo. The Rockies don’t want to trade him and they say they won’t trade him. That doesn’t mean a deal is impossible, though. Tulo makes lots of money, and the Cardinals would have to give up a lot of talent for him.
Aside from the fact that the two parties will be in the same location this week and will in fact speak to one another, I see nothing new here.
As these Tulo rumors persist, the debated package that the Cardinals would have to send will become the hottest topic. The buzz names will be, and should be: Matt Adams, Shelby Miller, Oscar Taveras, and Trevor Rosenthal. There are certain combinations that include those guys that would make it really hard to turn down a trade in purely objective baseball and business terms. What would follow in that case is a difficult decision and a debate about whether or not some of the intangibles (leadership, having a face of the franchise, etc.) dictate that the team still should not trade Tulo.
That’s all for later, if and when a more substantive report emerges. As for today’s headline grabber, the only new item Passan offers seems to be off the mark. He wrote the following paragraph to sum up owner Dick Monfort’s recent comments about Tulowitzki:
While Monfort a month ago told The Denver Post “my plan is always to keep” Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado’s other high-paid star, he implied carrying the salaries of both going forward might not be tenable. He also took a shot at Tulowitzki’s leadership skills, calling him a me-first player, the sort of assertion with which several people in the Rockies organization strongly disagree.”
The nuances here matter, though. Here are the presumed quotes that Passan is citing (from an article by Mark Kiszla, who is no fan of nuance himself). Anyhow, here is a fairly lengthy excerpt from the article so as to fully account for the so-called “shot” Monfort took at Tulowitzki:
Tulowitzki might well be the best shortstop in baseball.
But the Rockies should expect more from him, because Monfort certainly expects more from Tulo.
More leadership. More maturity. More games in the lineup.
‘You need somebody to step up and say: ‘We can do this,’ and I’m going to show you how,’ Monfort said.
Todd Helton, the face of the franchise, has retired. Monfort expects Tulowitzki to take more responsibility for the team’s success and be less self-absorbed as a player.
‘I’m hopeful that Tulo, now that Todd’s gone, is going to step up,’ Monfort said. ‘As you guys know, Todd was never the leader of the team. He was never a captain. You wouldn’t put the captain’s badge on him. He led by example, that’s right. But he was never going to sit down and say: ‘Listen, I know you’re struggling right now … but you will come out of it.’ He wasn’t going to do that.’
Can Tulowitzki be the mentor Helton never was?
‘He’s getting more engaged with the younger guys,’ Monfort said. ‘Before, all he worried about was Tulo. ‘Yeah, we won the game 8-2, but I went 0-3.’ The guy has matured.’”
To sum that up by saying that Monfort “took a shot at Tulo’s leadership skills” and called him “me-first” seems like a strained interpretation. But then again, if you relay the sum of these comments by saying that Monfort said that “Tulo used to be a me-first player, but he’s matured and Monfort is hoping he will be a leader for the team in the future,” well, it’s not nearly as juicy, is it?
Let’s be clear: if the Rockies trade Tulo, it will not be because of some beef between him and ownership. If there were a beef, the beat guys who cover the team (Troy Renck, Patrick Saunders, Thomas Harding) would have sniffed that out by now and reported it long ago. All we’ve heard from them is an unwavering stance that Tulowitzki isn’t going anywhere.
Ownership has publicly challenged Tulo to be a leader, dating back to when he signed his huge extension with the team, but I can recall no instance when they were “taking shots” at him. If anybody knows of something that I’m missing, feel free to correct me.
If a trade happened, it would be a baseball decision, a very dicey and high-stakes baseball decision. So as reports like this one emerge this week and beyond, let’s focus on the real baseball decision at hand.