You’ve got to admire Kris Bryant. He gets paid handsomely by the Rockies, yet rarely has to show his face on the field and put up with the stinking embarrassment that is playing baseball at 20th and Blake.
Let’s all raise a toast to Bryant. Who doesn’t want money for nothing?
When franchise owner Dick Monfort and yes-man Bill Schmidt signed Bryant to a seven-year, $182 million deal prior to this season, it conclusively proved the Rockies are not cheap.
But this team is stupid, to say nothing of misguided and delusional. As best I can tell, Schmidt’s plan as general manager is to pretend the Rockies are a contender.
Well, in the first year of his contract, Bryant has definitely declared himself a serious contender for the worst free-agent signing in club history. That’s really saying something, considering the money this team has flushed down the drain over the years when acquiring pitcher Denny Neagle, washed-up Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond, who was given $70 million and a glove to a position he had never played.
On Wednesday morning, Rockies manager Bud Black announced Bryant received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left foot, in the hope of speeding his recovery from plantar fasciitis.
Hey, it’s worth a shot. What does Bryant have to lose except more time on the disabled list? If he takes the field again this season we’ll all be pleasantly surprised. Bryant has played only 42 of Colorado’s 125 games, sidelined for the vast majority of the season with injuries to his back and foot, as well as paternity leave.
Then, on a summer day when the Rockies didn’t need more bad news, we were reminded why it was puzzling Bryant was signed in the first place.
The visiting Texas Rangers jumped to a 6-0 lead on the strength of eight hits and the generosity of three walks and one Colorado error before an out was recorded in the top of the second inning. When Rockies starting pitcher Jose Urena finally coaxed a pop-up to shortstop from Leody Tavaras, the friendly crowd of 25,213 at Coors Field gave the Pet Rocks an enthusiastic, albeit sarcastic, round of applause.
Final score: Texas 16, Colorado 4. Maybe that’s not the rock bottom of this forgettable season. But it’s enough to make even a professional ballplayer start making plans for vacation in October.
“Everybody is just trying to play good baseball,” veteran pitcher Austin Gomber said. “As a team, we want to win. And certain individuals that have been struggling are trying to find their way. Every night, showing up, ready to compete, that’s part of being a big-leaguer.”
In the Colorado clubhouse after this disconcerting loss, there was no chatter, no cohesion and no accountability. Fans love Charlie Blackmon, but he has never seen it as his role to stand and take the heat after a bad loss. The rest of this team, from Jose Iglesias, to C.J. Cron, to Randal Grichuk, feels like a loose collection of guys just passing through town.
OK, nobody’s faulting Bryant, who has produced five homers and 14 RBIs in return for an $18 million salary, for lousy health luck. Colorado does miss his bat in the middle of the order. But a team with an alarming lack of both power and speed is not a healthy Bryant away from making the playoffs.
Bryant is a piece a team logically adds to push it over the top to World Series contention if it keeps Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story.
Even a knucklehead like me can figure that out. So why can’t the Rockies grasp Baseball Economics 101? What’s far more damning than overspending on Bryant is the total lack of a discernible and executable plan to build a winner.
Since the All-Star break, when the Rockies hurtled straight off a cliff on the road to nowhere, losing 21 of 32 games, I’ve heard grumbling that maybe it’s time for Colorado to move on from Black.
It’s entirely fair to criticize Black, whose expertise is pitching, for a Colorado staff that ranks 12th among National League teams in walks surrendered, 14th in earned run average and dead last in on-base percentage allowed.
Black, however, is not responsible for roster construction, including a stubborn refusal to rebuild that puzzles observers throughout the major leagues.
Whoever signed Bryant to an absurdly huge contract to a baseball team with zero realistic hope of playoff contention is the man who deserves to get fired, not Black.
But so long as Schmidt tells Monfort what the boss wants to hear, he’s not going anywhere.
Neither are the Rockies.
For $182 million, you’d think Bryant could at least buy us all a beer to drown our sorrow.