Colorado Rockies: “Winning the Offseason” is Overrated
By Nolan Lees
During the offseason, the Colorado Rockies were widely criticized for not making more moves. This season has shown though, that making moves isn’t the same thing as making progress.
While Colorado was seemingly doing nothing, the Arizona Diamondbacks were out doing everything. They stunned the baseball world by landing prized free agent Zack Greinke, then did it once more with a shocking trade for starting pitcher Shelby Miller.
Across Denver, fans and media alike were envious of Arizona’s action-packed offseason. As the Rockies made a Corey Dickerson for Jake McGee trade the highlight of their winter, here were the Diamondbacks. They seemed to be really “going for it” and announcing their presence as a contender in the National League West.
Well, if you’re reading this site, you’re probably already familiar with how that worked out for both sides. The Rockies have seen steady, if not somewhat slow, improvement, and looks poised to be even better next season.
The Diamondbacks? They’ve been a dumpster fire.
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Greinke has been a disappointment. His ERA of 4.21 would be his worst since 2006 when he was just 22 years old. But that’s nothing compared to Miller. The jewel of Arizona’s big offseason trade has a 2-9 record and a 7.21 ERA. Those were numbers so bad they got him sent down to Triple-A.
That trade has been discussed in detail in many places, but our friends over at Tomahawk Take were chalking this move up as a win for the Braves right when it happened. There were plenty of people who thought Miller was going to regress from 2015, although no one expected it to this extent.
After preseason predictions of being NL West contenders, Arizona is currently in dead last at 52-73. Things have gotten ugly in the front office, as there were reports that the team’s ownership is blocking moves and considering sweeping changes.
Colorado, criticized by many for not adding arms like Arizona, has instead opted to grow from within. Tyler Chatwood has had his best season yet, while Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson have looked like they’ll be part of the Rockies starting rotation for a long time.
General Manager Jeff Bridich has, fairly or unfairly, been chastised by fans and media for not making more moves in an attempt to rebuild the Rockies.
This is understandable, on some level. It’s natural to want to see things happening immediately to prove that things are changing.
But baseball, more so than any other professional sport, doesn’t work that way. Rebuilding is not something that can be accomplished in a single off-season. It’s a process that can take several years to come to fruition.
Take the Kansas City Royals, for instance. They hired GM Dayton Moore in 2006 during the midst of a long string of futility. In Moore’s first seven years with the organization, the team never won more than 75 games in a season.
The team was drafting and developing a farm system that rivaled any in all of baseball however. As those prospects started to emerge, so did the Royals. Kansas City supplemented their run along the way with smart trades and the occasional free agent pick-up, but there was no one big moment where they became contenders. It happened over a course of several years.
This is how a majority of the contenders in MLB are built these days. The Chicago Cubs, with all their money and resources, didn’t build their current juggernaut by outspending everyone. They did it by prioritizing the draft and international prospects.
Looking back at the past few offseasons, the teams that dominated the winter headlines turned out to be massive disappointments once the actual games started. Remember the 2012 Miami Marlins? The team that signed high-priced free agents Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and hired Ozzie Guillen as manager? That supposed World Series contender lost 93 games.
Make no mistake about it: there are absolutely times where a risky move is the right move for an organization. But too often, we confuse being bold with being smart.
The future looks bright for the Rockies right now, not because they made splashy, headline-grabbing moves, but because they’ve quietly been assembling the pieces of a contender over the years now.
There may come a time in the not-too-distant future where Colorado is among MLB’s title contenders. If and when that happens, most people will look towards the last offseason and try to figure out what they did to turn things around. The people who have been following this team closely, however, will know the truth.
Next: Why Nick Hundley is Colorado's Most Overrated Player
It’s not the one big move everyone talks about that creates success. Success in MLB is the culmination of hundreds of successful little moves that build up over time.