The Colorado Rockies are stuck in a purple purgatory
Another trade deadline has passed. Another year of inexcusable inaction from the Colorado Rockies front office when they had tangible pieces that would be appetizing to many contenders. It’s a surprise to many who only focus on the Rockies from a national level, but it was disappointingly expected by much of the Rockies’ fanbase.
“This is who we are,” Colorado Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt said on Tuesday night about his inaction. He went on to describe how the Rockies “can’t keep up with the Joneses” and that they’re going to do the best they can with the resources they have.
While the Colorado Rockies sat still, two of their major competitors in the NL West made moves to compete and improve their teams.
We’re looking at you, Dodgers (an annual example of being effective buyers) and Padres (just trading for generational talents like Juan Soto, nothing big really).
But what about the part about the Rockies just aren’t financially in a situation where they can make moves to compete? It shows a complete misunderstanding of what fans’ expectations are for this team when it comes to making trades. Not even the fans who watch the Rockies through the deepest shade of purple-colored glasses expected the Rockies to be buyers. Rather, it made more than enough sense to sell.
Last season’s trade deadline was one of the most egregious acts of inaction a Major League front office could have ever taken. Just a catastrophic failure of events by trading neither of Jon Gray or Trevor Story, both being on expiring contracts and both not being a guarantee that they’d return. In Story’s case, it was the worst-kept secret in baseball that there was a less than microscopic chance that Story returned.
But Gray expressed interest in staying, so the assumption was the Rockies would do what they can to ensure he stayed in Colorado. But they slacked, didn’t offer him what he was worth, and ultimately Gray chose to sign elsewhere, compounding the negative perception the front office already had by bungling the relationship with Nolan Arenado (leading to his departure) and not really making any effort to get any type of value out of a Story trade (the compensatory pick was their value, but it’s hard to believe that was all Story was worth).
It gets even worse when it was made public that the Rockies’ front office was reportedly fuming behind closed doors because Gray’s agent was looking for better deal instead of just going with the one offer that the Rockies offered Gray (you know, Negotiating 101 kind of stuff):
With Schmidt taking over midseason for Jeff Bridich, there was a bit of reason to believe maybe the inaction in 2021 was due to him not being as acclimated to a GM role as he should be for a trade deadline due to just not having enough time. But this season confirms it … the Rockies are just ignorantly inadequate when it comes to improving the team at the deadline, no matter who’s in the GM role.
This issue is once again exacerbated by the fact that the Rockies always hire internally. They fall back into the same issues and potential solutions time after time after time without any apparent attempt to change. Building a team at Coors Field is incredibly tough and only they can solve it, outsiders be damned.
The answer for the Rockies this year should have been simple:
You trade C.J. Cron, who is one of the best NL first basemen and would bring back significant value with having another year on his contract. You trade Daniel Bard, who’s been exceeding expectations again this season but is in a volatile spot being a relief pitcher in his late 30s. You trade Chad Kuhl, who is outperforming his normal means and could be a helpful arm for a contender in need of one. You trade Jose Iglesias, whose veteran leadership, along with a fairly decent bat, would help plug a gap for someone who either needs veteran leadership or needs someone to step in while their normal guy is injured.
But everyone’s still here. And the Rockies have a handful of guys who are on expiring contracts and they risk, yet again, watching them all walk away and getting nothing in return.
It is a horrible, horrible way to run a franchise that’s driven by both negligence and misplaced confidence in a roster that hasn’t had more than a 1.0% chance of making the playoffs this season since May 8 (per FanGraphs).
When you can’t compete, you sell. You can’t just continue gripping onto slivers of misguided hope thinking that eventually everything will all pan out. You can’t be complacent with having just two competitive seasons in a decade (this is their expectation, by the way). Unless you’re good with 70-win seasons year after year and being thankful that you just run into some good luck some years and, wow, that’d be fun now, wouldn’t it?
It’s why I personally believe Scott Van Lenten and the Rockies parted ways before the season started. The reported rumors hinted at significant disagreements between Van Lenten and the club. Those disagreements were never disclosed, but an educated guess would make it seem plausible that the analytics route said to rebuild while the current train of misguided thought was that the team was good enough to compete (signified also by not trading Story or Gray in 2021). Their struggles with even understanding advanced analytics are well documented, so it’s not hard to see why they’d stick to the current course instead of embracing something new.
Outsiders be damned yet again as Dick Monfort’s ways continue to prevail!
But the worst part about all of this inaction is that it’s fully expected at this point. The benefit of the doubt is now gone with Bill Schmidt and the onus now aims more closely at Dick Monfort and his intentions with how he wants to improve this team. If they’re truly not in a financial position to compete then they could have sold … but they didn’t. They stood there and did nothing proclaiming to the world “I have a belly button!” (just like “Big Daddy,” only 60 year-old men instead of a 7 year-old kid on a playground).
So if that’s what they’re going to do, and it’s financially driven, then maybe Monfort should simply sell the team (shrug emoji).
But that won’t happen. So here we are, yet again stuck in the 70-win Purple Purgatory without any real call to action. Unless they make an honest attempt to look into the mirror, change their ways, and take advice from those outside the confines of Coors, then we’ll continue to be stuck in this mode of mediocrity.
But any future changes of substance, as we all know now, won’t be expected.