Troy Tulowitzki is out for the season again.
As reported by Thomas Harding in the late hours on Wednesday night, Tulowitzki will undergo season-ending hip surgery and will be out for the remainder of the season. This news halts a potentially historic season from Tulo and puts the final nail in the coffin that is the 2014 season for the Colorado Rockies.
This is terrible news for any number of reasons. First of all, a little bit of sympathy is in order. Yes, I know Tulowitzki gets paid a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t acknowledge how bummed out that guy must be. Over the course of his historic start, we learned about Tulo’s training program, his crazy diet, and the fact that he was sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, all in an effort to avoid the leg injuries that have plagued him over the course of his career.
He went to those ridiculous lengths with the hopes that it would keep him on the field. Injuries struck again anyway, with this one being arguably as bad as it will get (labrum injury).
This season-ender ensures that the “injury prone” label will never leave Tulo. You could have argued that the broken rib he sustained in 2013 was fluky and not related to his injury history. No such argument can be made now; once again Tulo will lose a big chunk of a season to a hip/thigh/quad injury, and it seems reasonable to guess that those issues will continue to bother him for the remainder of his career.
This raises questions for the Rockies about what to do next with Tulo. None of them are easy, but considering Tulo’s status as the face of the franchise and his contract moving forward, the Rockies are fast approaching the moment that they must confront these issues head on.
One thing is certain: Tulowitzki will not be traded this off-season. But should he be dealt soon after the start of next season?
What’s next for Tulo and the Rockies?
The Colorado Rockies face their moment of truth this off-season…or at least they should, if they are paying attention (no guarantee with this regime).
They cannot afford to enter next season riding the “if Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez” wish. Not again. I have been as adamant as anybody that counting on those two was a risk worth taking the last few seasons. It’s not anymore, and maybe it never was.
Part of the problem is that these two got hurt in the same season, again, and that they will both miss the last month or so of the season, again. That confirms the fact that the worst case scenario happens too often for the Rockies to keep riding this blueprint.
The other part of the problem is that the franchise has completely bottomed out around them. The Rockies will end with the worst record in baseball and it might not be close. This team has reached a level of bad where they have no choice to make major changes, regardless of what brought them to this point.
Those changes might not come this off-season, however, mainly because these injuries might have limited Colorado’s options. Even if the front office comes to the unlikely realization that they have to pursue major moves, that might not be an option this winter. The Rockies will enter next season with Tulowitzki at shortstop because, among other reasons, they have no other choice.
That raises the question: should the Rockies let Tulo re-establish his value at the beginning of next regular season and then get aggressive about trading him? Do they need to seize on the next sell-high opportunity, which could be as soon as next summer?
There is risk in keeping Tulowitzki as your franchise player because he is injury prone. There is risk in trading him because you don’t want to watch him win an MVP somewhere else. The Rockies have to decide which path poses less risk. I am still inclined to think they should keep him, but the gap between those two options is closing.
In a weird way this injury bought the Rockies time. They have to know that the heat is going to get turned up on this situation as soon as the 2015 season arrives, presuming it starts with Tulo on the field for the Rockies. When that time comes, they have to know that they need to change course, something that was confirmed by this injury news on Wednesday.