It’s August of 2016 and once again the question has come up: Will the Colorado Rockies trade Carlos Gonzalez? I can’t even remember the last time Colorado went an entire year without experts asking the question. Should they? Will they? They traded Troy Tulowitzki last season, and maybe it’s time to go into full rebuild. Since these questions are coming up once again, I’d like to cover how the Rockies season is coming along and possible changes for the near future. I’ll also explore predictions for the last games of the season.
Colorado has actually not been terrible this season. Most people who follow the Rockies see the same pattern year after year. A solid start for the first 40 games or so followed by such a bad June performance that it defines the phrase “dog days”. At that point they’re just too far behind everyone else to be considered for the playoffs. This is also the reason why Cargo going on the trade block always ends up being an option. Then the trade deadline passes, Gonzalez is still on the roster, and Colorado prepares for football season. This season has just been different though. Sure they’re still below .500, and are still not in a position to make the playoffs. What this season has done, however, is make me believe Colorado has a team that can compete a couple seasons from now. Here’s why:
First off, they never went through their signature June swoon. Usually they only win 5 or 6 games in an entire month which, obviously, always destroys any playoff hopes. This season they won 13 games, including a 4 game winning streak. Not superstar level, but not miserably bad. In addition, Colorado has had more of a want, or need, to win now. They’ve informed the public many times they believe this team can be good, and they want to prove it every game. Over a 162 game schedule, you’re going to get blown out. Losses by 10, 12 runs are just going to happen. But the Blake Street Bombers have done a good job limiting those types of losses, and have been competitive for the majority of their games (something they’ve never done very well with). Secondly, the pitching staff hasn’t been that bad. In fact, by Rockies standards, they’re elite. We know they’ll never have a consistent pitching performance at Coors Field, but they do have the fourth best ERA in the National League on the road. Jon Gray has made a case for being the next superstar pitcher in the league. Tyler Chatwood and Chad Bettis have both been effective enough for the offense to win games. Heck, even a mediocre Jorge De La Rosa has had a stretch of great games. Right now they stand only a game below .500 at 52-53, so they have a chance of playing baseball in October this season. And with young pitching and hitting talent, including newly drafted Riley Pint (who can throw 104 mph, by the way), I don’t see any reason why the Rockies should deal away Cargo for a full rebuild.
Just like every other MLB team, they do have flaws that can keep them out of competing in the next couple seasons. Simply put, I’m going to list these instances and explain what they can do to prevent that. Starting with pitching: It’s no secret the Rockies absolutely never have good pitching, which always seems to bite them in the back. But this season they have a close to all-star talent in Tyler Chatwood, two promising pitching prospects in Jon Gray and Riley Pint, and another decent starter, Chad Bettis, in the rotation. With the killer lineup they have, they only need the starting group to gather a 4.50 ERA in order to have success. The second reason to look down on the Blake Street Bombers is their division. Colorado, unfortunately, is in an absolutely stacked division with the San Fransisco Giants in the middle of a dynasty and then two threatening Dodgers and Diamondbacks team. Even the San Diego Padres aren’t completely terrible. In order to make the playoffs possessing a good seed and not have to face the dreaded wild card game, they have to compete with a lot of really solid teams, including arguably the favored team to win the World Series this year and the years to come. It’s true that the Rockies aren’t really looking to make a run at the pennant for another couple years while their young stars, such as Trevor Story, develop into the studs they can be. By that time, I doubt the Giants will still be good (if they are, you could make a case for best dynasty ever), and the Dodgers will finish falling off the map, as I feel they are. Then the only truly competitive team is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are a team that the Rockies can defeat. They’ve been off the map for a desperately long time, but I think it’s almost time for the Rockies to once again compete for a World Series Pennant.