The Rockies were good a little while back. They had a lineup filled with homegrown players, a rotation filled with homegrown pitchers, and a team that was expected to contend. It really wasn't that long ago.
There's no reason to get into the specific reasons for their downfall. There were a lot of them. Let's just say there was unpleasantness.
This offseason started with the Rockies coming off a last-place finish, looking to get better. They had serious pitching problems -- they allowed seven fewer runs than the 2000 Rockies did, and that was a pre-humidor team in the steroid era -- so there was an obvious weakness to attack. There was a managerial vacancy. The only limit was their imagination.
Let's take a trip through the Rockies' offseason, then, by way of the Rockies pages at MLB Trade Rumors, in chronological order:
Bench coach Tom Runnells, veteran slugger Jason Giambi, former Rockies shortstop Walt Weiss, and current Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams make up the club's final four of candidates (for the open managerial position).
New managers are always exciting! Any of those guys could be the next Joe Maddon or Tony La Russa.
The Rockies announced that they have hired Walt Weiss as their next manager. The former shortstop now becomes the sixth manager in club history, dating back to 1993.
This could be the start of a new era, and I write that without any sarcasm. New managers are usually reasons to be optimistic, at least before they start doing the in-game things that everyone hates.
Outfielders Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer will both draw trade interest in the weeks ahead, Renck writes. While the Rockies will listen to trade offers, they aren’t aggressively shopping either player.
Which is exactly what Rockies fans should want to read, at least with Fowler. Bad teams trade players for younger players, and then they use those younger players to get better. That's the idea, anyway. It's the cycle of life. So natural, so beautiful.
Though the part about the Rockies not "aggressively shopping" Cuddyer was a little weird, considering where he's at in his career and where the Rockies are in the success cycle. No matter. You can't buy into everything you read, right?
The Rockies would like to obtain a starter who can provide consistency and stability in the rotation, according to Renck. Starters such as Ricky Nolasco and Gavin Floyd.
Okay, well, those aren't exactly aces, but they're kinda-interesting names. The quest to rebuild the rotation continues!
"Signs point to Dexter Fowler staying in Colorado," writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, citing both the Rockies' large asking price for the outfielder and potential trade partners' concerns about Fowler's ability to hit outside of Coors Field
There's no reason to trade Fowler for pennies on the dollar. They don't have to trade him to make a successful offseason. They just have to be open-minded.
The Rockies want a similarly large trade package in exchange for Michael Cuddyer, Knobler reports.
Wait a second …
The Rockies are looking to restore their rotation, but not rebuild it entirely, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. The club will look to bolster their starting five with a veteran presence and they are known to have interest in free agent right-hander Kevin Correia.
And with that last sentence, the feeling of hope, the offseason optimism that every fan is entitled to, fades away. Kevin Correia in Coors Field isn't an answer to anything. Even if the question is, "What kind of anagram can I make with the phrase, 'Cede a friskier violin croon?'", the answer still isn't "Kevin Correia in Coors Field."
It's here where things turn exceptionally depressing.
The Rockies added a late-inning reliever today, acquiring Wilton Lopez and a player to be named later or cash from the Astros for starter Alex White and minor leaguer Alex Gillingham, the teams announced.
White was one of the top prospects acquired from the Indians in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. He struggled with injuries and his command in 134 innings with the Rockies, so it's not totally bizarre that they might have thought his value was at its highest.
But the offseason was all about bringing starters in. Instead, they shipped a young, pre-arbitration starter out for a reliever. It's like walking into a vacant home that was infested with drug-addled squatters, making a beeline for the bathroom, and dropping a toilet-bowl cleaner in the back of the toilet tank. Well, that water sure is blue now, alright, but there were probably other things to worry about.
Also, you traded plastic gloves and garbage bags for the toilet-bowl cleaner. But look at how blue the water is!
The Rockies have made it clear since the end of the season that they are not shopping Michael Cuddyer, but they have to listen as they look to acquire more pitching, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The Phillies and Yankees could both use a corner outfielder and Renck says the situation is worth monitoring.
I can't imagine a reason why the Rockies would want to keep Michael Cuddyer if other teams are interested in him. Is it the bad defense? The 0.4 WAR? The .317 on-base percentage? The high salary? The injuries? The advancing age? Stop me when I get to a good reason he should be on a 98-loss team if there are teams interested in acquiring him.
The Royals called the Rockies about Luke Hochevar, but nothing has materialized, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter)
Jeff Karstens, Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Jair Jurrjens are among the possibilities the Rockies are considering. The Rockies wouldn’t offer all of those pitchers Major League deals, however.
It's not like all of those pitchers are unreasonable options. But as a group, it's like a game of Underwhelming Pitcher Mad Libs.
Earlier this offseason we heard the Rockies were open to trading position players for pitching help, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter) the team is not planning to move Michael Cuddyer. Morosi says the Mariners inquired about his availability at one point this winter.
The Rockies have signed Miguel Batista to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes
Since turning 40, Batista has allowed 66 walks and struck out 67 in 112 innings. Other than that, this move is pretty much all upside.
The Rockies have signed Chris Volstad to a minor league deal worth $1.5MM, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter).
Wait, so we're back to the all-sinkers philosophy that was popular in the days of Billy Swift? I guess it's hard to be that snarky about this move -- I've always irrationally liked Volstad, if only because he's huge and throws a heavy sinker -- but the Rockies went into the offseason looking for pitching, and they emerged with a guy the Cubs didn't want.
The Rockies signed Chris Volstad yesterday, but that’s not stopping them from going after more veteran pitching. The club is "aggressively pursuing" free agent right-handers Carl Pavano and Derek Lowe, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. The Rockies would like to complete another deal this week.
/shuts down computer
/leans back in chair
/stares at ceiling, motionless and silent for three hours
The offseason is about hope, realistic or not. Even fans of bad teams are supposed to draw some measure of hope from the wide-open offseason. The Rockies have slowly, surely sucked out the life juices of the offseason, leaving a desiccated husk. Every rumor is less inspiring than the last, each transaction (and non-transaction, in Cuddyer's case) is progressively stranger.
The Rockies allowed 890 runs last year. They've signed Chris Volstad, Jeff Francis, and Miguel Batista, inquired on Kevin Correia, Luke Hochevar, Carl Pavano, and Derek Lowe, and traded away a young starting pitcher for a reliever, which is a gag that never works. Add it all up, and you have the most depressing baseball-related site on the Internet: a simple list of the rumors and transactions that will make up the 2013 Rockies. It's been … well, it's been something, alright.