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Alright folks. The Colorado Rockies had a bad 2013 season. There is no question about it. I do not mean to speak for everybody, but it seems like it was that disappointing home series against the lowly Miami Marlins in July that pushed this season off the cliff. From there we turned our attention to the same old disappointing Rockies season narratives.
- They don’t hit on the road.
- They don’t have enough pitching.
- These owners are the worst.
- Fire O’Dowd. Fire Geivett.
- What is the best course of action with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez? Trade them, or let them waste their primes away in Colorado?
I’m mad too. Very frustrated in fact, and you wouldn’t have to work too hard to persuade me that this franchise does need to shake up the front office. But I really think, when we look at 2013, we have to acknowledge some wrinkles in the typical reasons for anger and frustration. Rather than let confirmation bias run away with things, just go through this lineup and tell me what you would have actually done differently entering the season.
First base – Todd Helton. I defy you to talk a big game and say that you would have replaced Helton entering this season. Even if you remove the emotional last month of the season from the equation, I don’t believe that very many people actually think they should have pulled the trigger on benching Helton for somebody else. I mentioned it a few times before the season, and I did wonder about making him more of a platoon player…but if you’re asking me to criticize the front office for running with the Toddfather this season, I won’t do it. If you do feel that way, more power to you I guess.
Second base – Josh Rutledge (with DJ LeMahieu in AAA). They obviously got this wrong, but the pop Rutledge showed in 2012 was hard to ignore. If you’re talking about a team that needed to win with offense entering the 2013 season, Rutledge had a higher ceiling than LeMahieu. Now we know that DJ is the man thanks to his blend of excellent defense and sound offense, but at the time I think it is hard to find fault with this decision.
Shortstop – Troy Tulowitzki – just stop it.
Third base – Chris Nelson and then Nolan Arenado. I wanted Arenado to break camp as the third baseman, but they pulled the trigger on a switch pretty quickly (the 25th game of the season on April 28th). And by the way, they won a bunch of games with Nelson out there, so the team didn’t lose anything by waiting. So the question is, would you have gone with somebody besides Arenado? If you say you would have, I simply do not believe you.
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Left field – Carlos Gonzalez – nope.
Center field – Dexter Fowler. An argument might be made here that the Rockies could have used Fowler to acquire a package of talent that might have included pitching. But remember, this is about the decision at the time. Fowler was coming off a breakout season, and he showed early on that he can be a serious difference maker. He was on the short list of guys who could have pushed this team to a different level. I think it is hard to find fault with the decision to run with Fowler. This off-season might be another story, however…
Right field – Michael Cuddyer. I thought at the time that this was the spot to make a move. With Tyler Colvin and other options, it made sense to me for the team to try and trade the lovable outfielder and his somewhat burdensome contract. So that’s what I would have done differently, and I would have failed this team miserably.
Here is the reminder that should emerge from this exercise. The 2013 Colorado Rockies were bad, but they were not bad for the reasons we thought they would be bad. If you are trying to find fault with the process, which is where we should focus when assessing this struggling front office, it is hard to find much with the lineup. Remember: the offense was supposed to be the decided strength for this team. Everybody said so in their predictions, projections, and analysis of this team. I sure don’t remember anybody bashing these moves at the time.
Things did not work out, at all, for the offense in 2013. True, the front office is supposed to know more than we do, but still, I think we should at least pause for a moment before the bashing for the 2013 season starts.