Jul 3, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstopTroy Tulowitzki
(2) looks on prior to the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Everyone take a deep breath. It may not be as bad as it seems.
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The Rockies upper management hasn’t done much in the last 5 years to make us think that they have any plans to produce a winner at Coors Field. The last couple of trade deadlines have featured the infamous “We have the pieces, if we could stay healthy. Staying the course”.
Well, we all know how well that has worked out. Baseball is won by pitching and defense. The Rockies have one part of that, and are in dire need of the other. Any guesses to which one we are deficient in?
I’ll clue you in. It’s not defense. I wrote earlier this year how 2015 is finally the year where “staying the course” no longer made sense (not that it did the last couple of years either). Jeff Bridich shocked the world last night by trading Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Jose Reyes and others. Others is the key here. Follow me for a second.
Troy Tulowitzki has been the face of this team since 2007. Perennial all-star. Defensive wizard. Disable list resident. He’s tried hard to take over the leadership of the clubhouse that was vacated when Todd Helton retired. It doesn’t seem like it’s ever fully meshed in the clubhouse.
He’s always appeared to be too singular to be a strong leader. Not that he doesn’t work hard and play harder. That’s undeniable. He wants to win. Badly. His discontent with losing seems to carry into the clubhouse. He just doesn’t seem to illicit the same respect behind closed doors that Helton did.
Some of that is a bit of speculation on my part, but if you look at this Rockies team, it definitely doesn’t have an identity that it seemed to have with Helton around. His struggles with that, and with the Rockies constantly losing, finally came to a head last night with the trade to the Blue Jays.
So why was now the time? Why not 2 years ago when the Cardinals wanted to give up power arms left and right? Well, I think circumstance finally forced the Rockies hand. First of all, after this season, Tulo was going to be a 10-and-5 player. Meaning he would have had 10 years in the league, five with the same team.
That would have given him the ability to veto any trade, and would have put the Rockies in a terrible place from a leverage standpoint. He was also expensive. The Rockies don’t have a Yankees or Dodger sized payroll. His contract was a big burden going forward. His discontent was becoming evident as well. He showed it with the rumor that his agent started about him demanding a trade back in May. Sure.
He denied it, but I think the Rockies saw the writing on the wall. The biggest reason to move him this year? He was healthy. The return in power pitching arms finally got to the point that, combined with everything else, it made sense.
First reactions to the trade were all over the board. People couldn’t believe the Rockies traded Tulo for Jose Reyes. Why take on another large contract, with an aging and slowing SS being the “centerpiece” of the deal? Lots of people were mad. My first reaction was that there had to be a 3rd team in this deal.
There had to be something else to it. Then the additional arms in the deal started to surface. All the sudden the Rockies had received 3 young power arms as well. Ok. Better. Then the rumors started that the Rockies were just going to flip Reyes and his contract somewhere else.
All of a sudden, assuming they do this, the Rox could come up with some big time pitching prospects and even if they don’t flip Reyes, they’ll save about 52 million dollars offloading Tulo’s deal.
That savings frees up money to extend Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson. This is what this team needs. Taking Tulo’s bat out of the lineup isn’t going to make this sometimes bipolar offense anemic. Sure, it’ll hurt a little bit, on the field and in the heart, but Trevor Story and Cristhian Adames are waiting in the wings to step in.
More youth. More talent. Now the Rockies have Jon Gray waiting, along with multiple other top prospect pitchers. That’s what will make this team good in the future. Replacing one 30-year-old SS who has a hard time staying healthy with at least 3 power pitchers who can make a big impact in our rotation isn’t a terrible move. In fact, it’s a fast way to rebuild.
Let’s wait and see what plays out in the next 72 hours or so. Carlos Gonzalez could very well be traded in the near future as well, which would hopefully bring in even more pitching. Stacked pitching is easy to build a winner around. As the Rockies have shown, stacked lineups are not.