With the Colorado Rockies struggling to a 66-96 2014 season before swapping GMs, it seemed as likely as ever that the Rockies would make a big move this offseason. As the 2014 year comes to a close, though, that has not been the case.
After a change in management occurs, big moves often happen during the offseason. That has not been the case so far for the Rockies and general manager Jeff Bridich, which has been disheartening for fans and have added fuel to the argument that Bridich, as a Dan O’Dowd protege, is too much like O’Dowd to successfully supplant the ridiculed general manager .
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Let me start off by giving Bridich credit for something, even if it was for something that happened before free agency really started. I, along with most fans, criticized Bridich for giving Michael Cuddyer a qualifying offer. We were wrong, and the Rockies gained a valuable draft pick that they wouldn’t otherwise have picked up when Cuddyer signed with the Mets.
Since the Cuddyer news, though, it has been a very quiet offseason. Now for some teams, that would be a good thing. The perennially contending Cardinals, for example, have also not made much noise this offseason. But for a team coming off a 66-96 season with as many holes as this Rockies team has, it is probably not a great thing that Bridich seems content to roll into 2015 with a similar team to the one that so disappointed last year.
Coming into the offseason, there seemed to be two possible routes for the Rockies. The first is the “play it safe” route; sign some cheap relievers, upgrade the rotation and at catcher, and try to compete in 2015 with Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki improbably staying healthy. The second is the “blow it up” route that some fans have hoped for. That would entail trading CarGo and Tulo, gaining a bunch of young assets, and trying to compete in, say, 2017 with a different club and a (hopefully) higher upside.
Instead, the Rockies have watched from the sidelines as their division rivals have improved their teams. The Dodgers, of course, had a hectic Winter Meetings, adding Brandon McCarthy, Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, and Yasmani Grandal to an already-impressive stable. Meanwhile, the Padres added Matt Kemp, possibly elevating themselves into the playoff race, while the Giants seem likely to add an ace (either James Shields or Cole Hamels) to their World Series winning team.
Alas, it seems like the Rockies will again join the Diamondbacks at the cellar of the NL West. There have been a few small trades, as Josh Rutledge, Juan Nicasio, and Rob Scahill are gone, with Jairo Diaz, formerly of the Angels, set to join the bullpen. Diaz has upside, but he surely won’t make a huge positive difference in 2015.
There have also been rumors about a possible trade for Dillon Gee, which, perhaps thankfully, have not come to fruition. But by and large, and I risk making this sound a lot darker than any baseball post should be, our fears have been realized. Dick Monfort just doesn’t seem to care that much about the Rockies, or at least not enough to pour resources into the team that other teams are afforded (cough cough Dodgers cough cough).
Right now, our 2015 rotation is setting up to be: Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek, and Eddie Butler. Sound familiar? To be fair, the first four are fine pitchers who are probably better suited to be #4 or #5 starters, while Butler is a promising young pitcher who looked terrible in his first three starts. The best-case scenario is the first four post solid seasons while Butler and/or Jon Gray show signs of becoming an ace. The more likely scenario? The rotation again is a massive liability, with multiple pitchers getting hurt, and Butler and/or Gray post inconsistent seasons.
But the rotation hasn’t been the only question mark yet to be filled. The catcher position, the one massive hole on an offense that will have to set all kinds of records to carry this pitching staff to any sort of successful season, has not even been looked at. Russell Martin was always a stretch, but it would have been nice to sign at least one marquee free agent, right? It looks as if we might be stuck with Wilin Rosario again.
And, Jairo Diaz aside, the bullpen is still a big concern. Who are going to be the shutdown relievers on this team? Will it be Rex Brothers, coming off a terrible season? What about Tommy Kahnle, who has fantastic stuff but iffy control? Maybe Adam Ottavino, who started off last season well before tapering off, will take the next step. Or Diaz might be thrown right into the eighth-inning mix. Unless the Rockies sign some more proven options in the coming weeks, I don’t really see a way the seventh-eighth innings of 2015 will turn out well.
I’m sorry if I sound overly frustrated, but the lack of action this offseason has really gotten on my nerves. I thought this might be the year that the Rockies would make a few signings to aid their stars if not make the more drastic move of trading one for pitching help. As the days go by, though, that is looking less and less likely.
There’s still plenty of time for Bridich and the Rockies to surprise and make an eye-opening move or two. Spring training is still months away, and there are always a handful of big moves made in January. A bunch of top free agents are also still on the market. But with the Winter Meetings over, the Rockies have still barely altered their 96-loss 2014 team. Unless a flurry of moves happen quickly, Rockies fans might have to face a 2015 season that isn’t much better than 2014 was.