ROCKIES

The Colorado Rockies aren’t even trying, but at least they have pizza!

Aug 3, 2022, 6:00 AM
Dick Monfort...
Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

What makes a great baseball club?

Tasty homemade dough, fresh tomatoes crushed into red sauce, greasy, flowing hot cheese, and you can’t forget the seasoned pepperonis.

Wait, that’s a pizza recipe…

Every single club in Major League Baseball made at least one trade in the hours leading up to Tuesday’s Major League Baseball trade deadline. Every club except the Colorado Rockies, who were busy hosting a pizza party for their front office.

Yes, seriously.

According to a source in the Rockies organization, the front office was chowing down on pies while every other club in baseball either bettered themselves headed toward October or set themselves up for the future.

“Hahaha, it’s an annual trade deadline tradition to have a pizza party upstairs,” the source told DenverFan. “What were they actually doing? Who the heck knows.”

Most of the baseball world was bewildered by the Rockies lack of movement, with the team in last place, 25 games back of the Dodgers with just over 50 games to play. Yet what Rockies General Manager Bill Schmidt was bemused by was the line of questioning by the media.

“We were also the only club to sign a player to an extension at the deadline; 29 other clubs didn’t sign anybody to an extension,” Schmidt said proudly, wrongly referencing the two-year $19 million deal the club handed to 37-year-old reliever Daniel Bard earlier this week while ignoring the 10-year, $212 million contract the Braves handed out to franchise third baseman Austin Riley and the $100 million contract division foes San Diego dished out to hometown boy Joe Musgrove.

As absurd as all this is, somehow, Schmidt just barely topped Bud Black’s rambling tortured metaphor for the most cringe thing coming out of the organization this week.

“We’re fielding calls. We’ve got some players who are desirable,” the Rockies field manager said. “And I can’t speak to it, but I’ll give you some perspective. Team A might call on one of our players and their front office might say, ‘We like this guy.’ And our front office will say, ‘Well, yeah, he’s a good player; you should be on that player. … But this happens a little bit, too. Hey, you guys have a Range Rover. We’ll take your Range Rover, and we’ll give you our Honda Accord.’ And teams expect you to do that. Why would we do that? ‘How could you not trade your Range Rover?’ Because we might try to keep our Range Rover! Rather than trade it for your Subaru!”

Black went on to say he wasn’t in favor of a sale because it would represent a step back, which is something the Rockies don’t do, according to him. Meanwhile, after a second-place finish in 2018 they’ve finished fourth in each of the last three seasons. A step back—as they’ve continued to watch Range Rovers drive off their lot for nothing in return.

Look, it’s easier to dunk on the Rockies than if you were Shaq standing two feet from the hoop in an open gym. Especially given the material. They provided another gem that got lost earlier this week when Nick Groke of The Athletic reported that the club was still upset that pitcher Jon Gray’s agent had the gall to find his client a better contract than the one Colorado offered.

Maybe this is because the Rockies overvalue their players, something that hampers them in trades as they made the fewest among all MLB teams during former GM Jeff Bridich’s tenure. That overvalue means they couldn’t imagine a separate team swooping in to offer the former ace of the staff more money. Gray was always the perfect candidate for the arbitrage, given the Rockies did all they could to change his mechanics, ‘fix’ the way he operated on the mound, and then tossed him to the wolves as the fall guy when the going got tough—allowing him the label of mentally weak. And on top of that, Gray’s stuff played better just about anywhere but Coors Field but was always willing to make adjustments to crack the Coors conundrum so far as pitching two different styles, throwing a slider as an out pitch at home and using a curve on the road.

But going back to the team’s leader Schmidt, who fumbled last year’s deadline by not dealing the soon-to-walk Gray or Trevor Story. The longtime Rockies employee continued with his, generously, “honest mistakes” when speaking Tuesday.

“I believe in the club. We haven’t performed to our expectations, but we are continuing to grow in a lot of areas. And I think the future is bright,” Schmidt said of his team pacing for 70 wins and projected to win 69 games by many sportsbooks at the season’s beginning.

“Trying to keep up with the Joneses, you can’t do that,” Schmidt continued. “We’re not financially in that situation. So we’re going to do the best we can with the resources we have.”

Why the Rockies are not in that situation as they have a growing metro area and excellent attendance is beyond me. Aside from Musgrove, their much smaller market division rival Padres traded for superstar Juan Soto on Tuesday while crushing Colorado like red pepper flakes in both games of a doubleheader. They have already committed oodles of dollars to Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.

This doesn’t concern the Rockies, who clearly aren’t trying to win the division they’ve never won in 30 years of playing in it; they apparently don’t even know who their most common opponents’ best pitchers are. Neither does making their dollars go further, as plenty of clubs spending less than Colorado fight for playoff positioning. To get your dollar’s worth, a baseball team needs a long-term outlook and plan and to invest in the cheapest option: young talent.

Reinvesting in their bottom-third ranked farm system does not concern the Rockies. Some of the youngest players may one day be solid ballplayers at the big league level, but the minors could’ve used some help at the higher levels. Considering that the Rockies have one of the oldest rosters in the sport, the farm system seems more like a must than an optional ornamentation.

As banal as not flipping first and likely lone-year Rockies in below-average shortstop Jose Iglesias and a backend starter Chad Khul for a prospect or two is, what that lack of moves and mounting of this week’s words add to is not missteps on some grand path back to the playoffs. Rather, we know that the Rockies have no track toward the top, nor do they even care about devising a way any time soon because, fundamentally, it does not matter to them.

Dick Monfort doesn’t strike me as the most learned man, so Sisyphus from greek mythology may escape his grasp. For the rest of us, the future of the Rockies is foretold in their past as they continue to make like sisyphus and push on a boulder that will only pull them inevitably back down.

Or, to put this in baseball terms. I was sitting at a Rockies game directly behind Monfort earlier this year when German Marquez found a groove in the middle of his start. I said to my brother, “he’s rolling now.” A few pitches later, Marquez surrender a would-be game-winning home run in the sixth inning of a tight game. Monfort turned to me and, with a growl, barked, “that’s the kiss of death right there,” referencing my genuine hope for Marquez and the Rockies.

Because as much as he won’t admit it, Monfort knows better than anyone as soon as you place your hope in the Rockies, it comes crashing back on to you.

French philosopher Albert Camus actually went over this in the philosophy of the absurd, saying there are only three routes out when you realize things are meaningless. Return to the cycle of life and don’t think about it, ending the meaninglessness or rebellion. I think many in Denver have chosen the second path, ending their relationship for the time being with baseball and the Rockies. Some within the Rockies are on the first path, and it seems to have even captured the respected Bud Black. As for the few of us on path three, I don’t have an answer for you now.

What I can tell you is that Schmidt isn’t the problem; he’s just another incompetent stooge who will one day be replaced by the next lackey who fills his current seat; one which only serves as a microcosm of the issues for the enigmatic franchise that seems to hit new lows every single day and only finds success by happy chance. This is Rockies baseball, a doddering franchise that’s better understood as abstract art than a winning baseball club. The franchise just provides a nice ballpark for you to take in a sunset and down a beer. Plus-side, the Rockies can use all that beer money can on pizza and I’m sure Kandinsky loved an 18-inch sausage and peppers.

***

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The Colorado Rockies aren’t even trying, but at least they have pizza!