Baseball may not be generating any headline news until the winter meetings, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t news happening. In Colorado, the Rockies have been working hard to dispel rumors that Troy Tulowitzki was being shopped around. Despite reports tying Tulo to St. Louis, the Rox deny any activity. According to Bill Geivett, the Senior VP of Major League Operations, Tulo’s “not going anywhere, period.”
While I think shopping around Tulowitzki is a great idea, there is no way the Rockies organization is letting Tulo go. Yes, Tulo’s the only remaining true five-tool shortstop in baseball. Yes, when he’s healthy he’s easily their most dangerous offensive player; but he’s a huge chunk of Rockies payroll that frequently spends stints on the DL. Why not entertain offers for the All-Star? The Rockies have finished as the worst team in the NL West two consecutive years. Clearly things aren’t working. The Rockies will spend much of 2014 in rebuilding mode again. By no means is this a plea to liquidate everything and start all over. But I would feel as an organization that would like to return to consistent playoff contention, you will always be looking to better your team. And sometimes bettering your team means losing one great player for two to three solid players.
Having a player like Troy Tulowitzki is a great asset in times like these. With All-Star talent, there’s the potential to get a great return. And with Tulo’s monster contract, you’re freeing up a lot of space that makes you a viable player in the free-agent market. So while the Colorado Rockies refuse to admit they are entertaining offers for Troy Tulowitzki publicly, I hope that behind closed doors it’s garnering serious consideration.
One thing they have been very public about is their pursuit for a slugger to replace Todd Helton. Several names have come up as viable options to fill this role. The bearded wonder Mike Napoli of the Red Sox has been a name they have uttered frequently. Napoli’s steady right-handed bat would fit well into the Rockies lineup, and to boot fill the hole at first base. Regardless of the Rox interest, it is unlikely the Red Sox let Napoli walk, and even more unlikely that Colorado would be the front runner if he doesn’t wind up in Boston.
Carlos Beltran, the switch-hitting superstar from St. Louis has also gained Mile High attention. Beltran continues to hit consistently despite his age, and although Colorado’s outfield is full right now with Gonzalez, Fowler, Cuddyer, and prospect Charlie Blackmon; adding Beltran seems to fit into the Rockies recent behavior. Aging and past their prime player, check. Looking to squeak a few more decent years out of him while paying for what he was, not what he is, check. The Rox saw success with this theory in 2013 with Michael Cuddyer; which is the best and worst thing that could’ve happened for Colorado. This recent success will convince the Rox that they can hit the lotto again with a fading player.
Perhaps the spot the Rockies are in desperate need of correcting is their bullpen. Last season’s bullpen offered little promise save Rex Brothers. That’s why rumors have circulated around names like Brian Wilson, Grant Balfour, LaTroy Hawkins, and Jose Veras. Ideally it would be great for the Rox to land either Wilson or Balfour. Wilson, who is familiar with NL West as he’s spent time in San Francisco and Los Angeles, would have little trouble adjusting to Coors Field with his experience. Balfour, who pitched 62.2 innings last season for the Oakland A’s posted a 2.59 ERA and tallied 38 saves, would be the consistent and proven back end closer the Rockies are in search for. If Colorado could land either Wilson or Balfour, it would be a step up for the backend of their rotation; in both experience and attitude.
As it stands today, the Rockies have yet to make major moves. Judging by the front office’s recent history, don’t expect any blockbuster deals. I expect come Spring Training in March, the Rockies will look much like they did this year minus one Hall of Famer. Which means Denver better enjoy the winning the Broncos have given them as of late, because their boys of summer will look much like they did in 2013.