Rocktober 2018 came to an unceremonious end on October 7, when the Milwaukee Brewers embarrassed the Colorado Rockies 6-0 at Coors Field to claim a decisive NLDS sweep.
While it was gut-wrenching to watch the team take a big swing and miss at the 2018 playoffs, we could remind ourselves that the future was as bright as a sunset from the Party Deck. The Rockies went 91-72 despite glaring issues on offense, with only an afternoon at Dodger Stadium stood in the way of the Rockies’ first-ever NL West title.
This team gives us so much to look forward to. There’s the emergence of Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson and David Dahl as future impact players. There’s the brilliant young starting rotation, led by legitimate aces German Marquez and Kyle Freeland. And I truly believe some of expensive bullpen pieces will bounce back.
But to be honest … I’m kinda dreading the 2019 season.
Clearly, the lack of signings has not helped; the polar vortex seems to have swallowed up the hot stove. Sure, it’s a league-wide problem, but the Rockies’ front office went into hibernation after signing Daniel Murphy. Guys that would be excellent additions to the squad were scooped up by other teams, and tweets from reliable sources continued to indicate “the Rockies had no interest.”
Meanwhile, we are in for a year of agonizing drama surrounding Nolan Arenado. He is predictably entering salary arbitration with the Rockies – he will almost certainly break the arbitration record – and the rumors, speculation and drama throughout the 2019 season are going to drive some of us into the real Rockies (a little off-the-grid time might do us good come mid-August.)
Up against this backdrop, I can’t shake the queasy feeling that 2018 was Colorado’s best shot at an NL West title. The team was so close to finally, FINALLY dethroning the Los Angeles Dodgers. But in that decisive tiebreaker game, well, the better team won.
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That’s why it felt like such a gut-punch when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed A.J. Pollock on a four year, $55 million deal. I thought Pollock would be an excellent fit for the Rockies in 2019 – I outlined that here. Yet, he’ll be helping the arch nemesis instead, along with a formidable pitching staff that improved with the addition of Joe Kelly.
While last season’s NL champions will be a 90-win team at worst, will the Rockies be any better this year? The team overachieved last year, and while here comes Murphy and old friend Mark Reynolds (on a minor league deal), DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino traded their purple pinstripes for black ones across the country in New York. It feels like a net loss.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield wrote that the Rockies are more likely than any other 2018 playoff team to miss the playoffs in 2019. It is hard to ague with his reasoning, especially on the likely regression of the starting rotation. Another spoonful of dread, please.
Given the pitiful state of the NL West, this should be a thrilling time to be a Rockies fan. Yet the fanbase’s ambitions do not seem to line up with the front office’s. Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounding Arenado might overshadow anything the team does on the field this season.
I think about that drama for more than a minute and I hope the snow at Coors Field never melts.
We’ve been led to believe – and rightfully so – that we are entering the prime of the Rockies’ contention window. But on paper, the 2019 Rockies are not much of an upgrade from the over-performing 2018 Rockies. I’ll pray to Dinger that I am wrong, though until Opening Day it will be hard to shake that sense of impending doom.