A Rockies’ Rocktober repeat requires major changes


The Phillies’ stunning, come-from-behind, 10-inning, 6-5 victory over the mighty Astros in Friday’s Game 1 of the World Series got me dreaming.

If the 87-win Phillies can do it, why not the Rockies? Pinch yourself, the miracle of Rocktober actually happened. The 2007 wild-card team got hot at just the right time, won Game 163, and rode their magic carpet all the way to the World Series.

But that was 15 years ago and a return trip to the Fall Classic seems light-years away now. I’m tempted to call this column impossible dreaming, but let’s try to stay positive and call it wishful dreaming.

So what would have to happen in order for the Rockies to shock the baseball world again?

Let’s start at the top with owner Dick Monfort, the man behind the curtain who continues dodging the media.

In his recent letter to season-ticket holders, Monfort wrote: “We all want the same thing. That is why we are more dedicated than ever to bringing you a Rockies Championship.”

One can only hope that a “Rockies Championship” means more than putting fannies in the seats at Coors Field. If Monfort is truly sincere in his desire to win a World Series, he’s got to prove it. That means giving the green light to some bold moves in the offseason and at the trade deadline.

Standing pat doesn’t cut it, as the team’s sharp decline after making the playoffs in 2017-18 illustrated. I refer to that as the Ghost of DJ LeMahieu.

In the clubhouse, the Rockies need both a spark and some lightness. They need a curmudgeonly Todd Helton, a CarGo, a Tulo, a Spilly, a Dragon Slayer. They need personality.

The team, as currently constructed, is a team of grinders that lacks leadership. Perhaps the new wave of players on the way up — Ezequiel Tovar and Zac Veen come to mind — can change that.

At the plate, the Rockies needed a bomber, or two, or three. This past season, Colorado ranked 10th in the National League in runs scored (698) and hit the third-fewest home runs of any NL team (139), despite playing in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in MLB.

Starting pitching, of course, is a precious commodity for any team. Right now, the Rockies sorely lack quality depth. Even if German Marquez (14-11, 3.77 ERA) and Kyle Freeland (17-7, 2.85) somehow recapture their 2018 magic, there is simply not enough behind them. The fear here is that if young position players begin to shine in 2023-24, the starting pitching won’t be there. The windows won’t be open at the same time.

That means general manager Bill Schmidt has to be willing to make some bold moves. Would Schmidt be willing to trade, say, C.J. Cron, Ryan McMahon or Brendan Rodgers if he could get pitching in return?

Kris Bryant, the Rockies’ $182 million man, made a bold statement when he signed a seven-year deal with the Rockies during spring training.

“I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’ve never played on a losing team in the big leagues, and I don’t plan on doing that,” Bryant said. “So I hope that I can bring an attitude here — that they already do have — but I just hope to compliment it, be a presence in the locker room and lead by example.”

Injuries wiped out Bryant’s first season in Colorado and limited him to 42 games. Schmidt called Bryant the Rockies’ “aircraft carrier,” but for Bryant to live up to that heavyweight moniker, he’s got to stay healthy and prove that he’s still close to being the player he was when he won the National League MVP with the Cubs in 2016. Until I see that, I’m skeptical.

The Rockies call themselves a “draft-and-develop” organization, but if they want to change the course of the franchise and start dreaming again, they have to be willing to make some changes.


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