This is no time for celebration
This is no time for shaking hands
This is no time for back slapping
This is no time for marching bands
This is no time for phony rhetoric
This is no time for political speech
This is the time for action
Because the future’s within reach
This is the time.
Lou Reed (American) 1942-2013, “There is No Time,” New York, 1989
The Toronto Blue Jays and Troy Tulowitzki are the winners in the American League East, and they’ll be hosting the Texas Rangers, champions of the West, on Thursday. The Houston Astros play the Yankees in New York tomorrow at 6:00 (all times MDT) for the opportunity to challenge the Kansas City Royals, also Thursday, starting in Kansas City. The New York Mets ran away with the National League East, and they’ll travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine Friday evening at 7:30. The long-suffering Chicago Cubs visit the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday at 6:00, and the winner travels forward to St Louis to take on the lordly Cardinals at 4:30 in the afternoon, also Friday.
The Colorado Rockies finished their 2015 on-field duties on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, defeating the World Champions with a 9th inning rally in a contest that can only be described as bizarre, 7-3 after trailing 3-0 for the first 8-1/3. Colorado went 2-4 in the final week, getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but taking 2 of 3 from the Giants.
The Rockies turned in another miserable season, finishing 68-94 and last in the NL West. It was their 3rd finish in the basement in 5 years, and also their 3rd 90 loss season over that span. So you don’t need to check, they finished 4th the other 2 times, and when they weren’t losing 90 they lost 88 and 89. It’s been a rough stretch.
Nolan Arenado had an MVP quality year, leading the league in RBI and tying Bryce Harper with 42 big flies. Carlos Gonzalez got healthy just about the time Tulowitzki was moved to Toronto for pitching prospects and Jose Reyes, and also flirted with the home run crown, falling short with 40. DJ LeMahieu emerged as a top-shelf major-leaguer and All Star, and Charlie Blackmon gave notice his 2014 all-star campaign was no fluke. Chad Bettis and Chris Rusin arrived in May when Colorado’s original starting 5 imploded after about 3 turns through the rotation, and they look like major leaguers as well, although Rusin was disturbingly inconsistent. Ben Paulsen came on in June when Justin Morneau went down. He also looks like he’s here to stay.
Despite the misery, the Rockies achieved a key accomplishment, substantially increasing the value of the assets they have on-hand. Consider the relative value of Tulowitzki, Arenado, Gonzalez, LeMahieu and Blackmon 12 months ago versus that of today. Tulo and Cargo were hurt, injury prone, and worth pretty much zero. Arenado certainly had strong value, but I don’t know many people who were talking about 40 homers and 130 RBI. Blackmon had had a good year but nothing in his resumé to back it up, and LeMahieu was an all-field/no-hit “nice little player” who wasn’t turning any heads. We’ve already seen what Tulowitzki was able to return, and as carp has been schooling us for months, Cargo’s value has got to be Through the Roof considering the market and his relatively modest contract situation. Nobody’s talking about moving Arenado but you can certainly imagine what kind-of a haul he might produce. And Blackmon and LeMahieu ought to be worth a couple of prospects each.
Perversely, Colorado is in an envious position. What hasn’t changed is the Rockies have no hope of contending the way they’re currently constructed (and if anybody doubts that I’m wondering where you’re shopping for your stuff these days). But in contrast to recent dismal off-seasons, this time there are assets to deal. The planets are in alignment! There’s no benefit in the present to hanging onto the assets, and everything to be gained from swapping them for reinforcements to deploy in the future. This is the time.
It’s been suggested Colorado has actually been in rebuild mode for several years now. Could it be we’ve seen little progress to-date because there’s been nothing to deal with? Did the effort to build off the miracle finish in 2007 doom us so severely that we’re only now seeing the means to dig out?
This was supposed to be the year we got to see what the Rockies could do with Tulo and Cargo healthy. Jeff Bridich made a curious comment when interviewed about the Tulowitzki deal, remarking that Toronto’s proposal was really “the first time anybody offered anything that was worth listening to.” And he seized on it, harvesting Tulo’s value as soon as the opportunity presented itself. But wait a minute, Gonzalez wasn’t yet healthy (we didn’t know that but the Rockies certainly did)! No, we never did get to see Tulo and Cargo healthy together. The Rockies were moving on.
There’s a long road ahead, and it’s going to suck, but that’s OK, we’re used to sucking. We’ve been sucking for years. We can take it. Because we remember that feeling. We remember Rocktober.
This is the time.