Troy Tulowitzki’s Problem With Comfortability

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Feb 29, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) warms up before their interleague game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 29, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) warms up before their interleague game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Troy Tulowitzki opened old wounds earlier this week. Before ripping into Jeff Bridich, Troy started out by telling USA Today Sports that the Rockies’ Spring Training facility was a “country club” and that “guys got comfortable [there] because it was so nice”. There isn’t much room for interpretation. Troy is clearly attempting to give the impression that the Rockies’ are inferior because the talent gets too “comfortable” when they should be training for upcoming season. Honestly, the random lash out reads like a bitter ex using social media when they shouldn’t be. What’s so wrong Troy? You’ve switched teams one-time; most players break their back trying to get a gig with one team for two or three years. Who really has a problem when things become too comfortable?

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At the superficial level, the assertion that the Rockies aren’t competitive because of their nice training facilities is bizarre. Top college and professional programs, across all sports, upgrade facilities for practical reasons everyday. Why do recruits choose certain colleges over others? Why do free agents choose certain teams over others? Surely the level of facilities isn’t the only variable in play when these decisions are made, but it’s certainly one of them. Let’s apply that argument strictly to the baseball context.

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is an exquisite facility by all accounts, but it’s definitely not the only “comfortable” training complex in baseball. In a 2014 USA Today Readers’ Choice article, Salt River came in 3rd as the best Spring Training complex. That was two years ago. Charlotte Sports Park, which was number one on that list, is home to the Tampa Bay Rays. If we use Troy’s logic, then the Rays should be atrocious. Well you guessed it, they haven’t been.

Despite having a lower payroll then Colorado, the Rays made the playoffs in 2011 and 2013. In 2015 the Rays almost won the wild card again but ran out of gas the last month of the season and finished 80-82. In that same vain, the Cubs have a brand new Spring Training facility that opened in 2014. Again, using Troy’s logic they shouldn’t be pretty horrible. But instead, they are the preseason favorites to win the World Series according to Vegas.

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Okay, still not satisfied? Let’s move on to the quantitative argument. ESPN Senior Writer David Schoefield wrote a great article from an analytical perspective. Schoefield suggests that if the Rockies lack of winning seasons is due to a Spring Training facility that breeds complacency, then we would expect to see the Rockies do poorly in the first month or so of a given season. We actually see the opposite. In the five seasons since Salt River opened, the Rockies have gone 71-53 in April. Schoefield did the math, and that’s good enough for fourth best in that time period. If you’ve been a lifelong Rockies fan like we have been here at Rox Pile, then you know frustration tends not to peak until early June when they’ve just returned from a long road trip where they won something like two out of 40 (maybe I’m being a bit facetious).

Okay so we’ve established Troy isn’t going to be a very valuable analyst anytime soon. Then why make those comments despite logic? Simple, Troy must miss that mountain skyline he saw on his way out to shortstop for 9 seasons. Can you blame him? Denver was absolutely in love with Tulo. Troy had always made it clear he wanted to play with one team his entire career, but he also made it clear he was frustrated with losing. Something had to give. Regardless of how you felt about the trade, at least the front office is giving the appearance that it wants to build a winner in Denver. Colorado moved on, Troy on the other hand looks uncomfortable.

Let’s break this down; a quick Google search will show you that the average major leaguer is lucky to play 5 or 6 years. Another quick search will show you that the average big league contract is in the ballpark of $3.3 million per season. It’s safe to say that if you’re only playing 5 to 6 seasons, you’re making something closer to the league minimum . You can also imagine that those players aren’t being promoted as “The Franchise” as they are passing through town either. Transactions, cuts, trades, signings, demotions, promotions happen every day and a vast majority of players don’t have the ‘luxury’ of knowing which one is coming for them next.

Tulo on the other hand has never had to deal with uncertainty in his entire career; even when he was battling injuries, he knew what tomorrow was going to bring. Troy is the antithesis of uncertainty. Troy was the center of attention in Colorado from Jump Street; he was “the future”, he was “the franchise”, he was the guy all the kids wanted to act like, he WAS Rockies baseball. Being regarded to as the top all-around shortstop in the game, Troy was handed a 10 year/ $157.7 million dollar guaranteed contract. Sounds awfully comfortable.

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Then the bad man Jeff Bridich took over the rains and shifted course. It was painful for all. But when compared to the average big league experience; Troy had a very comfortable stay in Colorado. After all, changing teams only once by age 31. Most guys would take that deal. So, somebody definitely has a problem with comfortability (specifically, how to judge it), but it’s certainly not with the guys fighting for their careers at Salt River this spring.

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