Everyone knows about the Winter Meetings. The Owners/GM meetings being held right now are just as important for offseason deals. It's like the scene in Brain Candy where Don takes Dr. Cooper outside to the real party. The Owner/GM meetings are where the movers and/or shakers are right now. Could be getting something crazy together at this very second.
Like, say, a Troy Tulowitzki trade? Perhaps, according to Jeff Passan:
Officials from the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies are expected to meet at the GM/owners' meetings in Orlando this week and discuss parameters of a potential trade involving Troy Tulowitzki, which already has been broached in informal talks between the parties, sources with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports.
It's interesting for a few reasons:
- The Cardinals have oodles of young pitchers and corner players with trade value
- The Cards don't have the future payroll commitments that would make them scared of a deal like Tulowitzki's
- The Cards haven't enjoyed the best luck with homegrown shortstops, even as they've developed everything else
The Cards are also interested in Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, which makes sense. It's made sense for a while.
But look at us. Cards Cards Cards Cardinals Cards. How does this affect the Cards? Who should the Cards give up? How much should the Cards pay Tulowitzki if they want to acquire him?
Doesn't anyone care about the Rockies and their feelings?
I'll take that stony silence to mean, yes, absolutely, let's see what this means for the Rockies.
The first problem is a public-relations meltdown. Well, it might be a meltdown, but it might be a slow erosion of trust, instead. The people watching games and buying the tickets are expecting Tulowitzki. When the Rockies paid a premium to lock him up years before he could become a free agent, it was a message to the fans as much as it was long-term planning. This guy will be a Rockie as long as he wants.
More important than PR: winning. If the Rockies rip off a 95-win season without Tulowitzki, it's not like fans are going to stay at home. So forget about how a trade would feel for the fans. Look at wins and losses. And there are two ways to look at those:
The first way to look at it is that Tulowitzki is still owed $134 million. Look at that table up there. That's a lot for a fella who misses more than a handful of games almost every season. It's about $70 million less than he'd get on the open market, so he's not overpaid, exactly.
But he's still a player who has troubles staying healthy, and that's probably the wrong kind of player to owe $134 million. Picture Nomar Garciaparra with that deal after he turned 29. Total nightmare. Maybe the Red Sox just broke the curse. That isn't to say that Tulo is Nomar because they played the same position. But if you can think of a better historical comparison, I'd like to read it.
Considering the Rockies aren't the kind of team in the kind of market that can afford to start $20 million in the hole every offseason, maybe it's not a bad idea to hedge bets and not gamble on a healthy, effective Tulowitzki at superstar prices over the next seven years.
The other way to look at this is the Rockies would be nuts, just nuts. Forget the PR, even if that really does mean something. As a franchise, though, where are they in the success cycle? They just lost 88 games, so maybe they're not favorites to contend right away, but here are the things going well right now for the Rockies:
Positives for the 2014 Rockies
More young pitching
Trading Tulowitzki would kick the can a little bit, pushing the Rockies' next window to 2015 or 2016, when the young pitching would be in full bloom.
Except, that's not a daunting to-do list for the Rockies if they're looking for short-term contention. It's the kind of roster that might -- might -- be fixed up real nice-like in one offseason. The Rockies are reportedly interested in Carlos Ruiz, which would push Rosario to first. They're also looking for some bullpen help behind Rex Brothers, which makes sense. They're identifying the right weaknesses.
But it all starts with the idea that one of the very, very best -- top 10? -- players in baseball is on the Rockies, in his prime, right now. The Rockies without Tulowitzki shouldn't think about contending. It doesn't matter if they get Matt Adams and Shelby Miller back, or Allen Craig and Carlos Martinez, or Lance Lynn and Matt Carpenter, even. When you start with Tulowitzki, you have an advantage that few other teams have, even if he misses more games than the average player.
Yet I can see the benefit in clearing payroll and making for a flexible future.
But if the Rockies don't spend on Tulowitzki, who's to say that money will go towards players who are just as effective?
Though, that's an awful lot of money for a player who misses so many games.
He's really, really good, though. Maybe the Rockies should consider that.
My default setting is to go for the birds in the hand. The Rockies aren't an Astros situation that needs to be totally razed. They have a lot of things going well for them right now, and one of those is the face of the franchise. That's a pretty tough thing to give up, even if it means the future is a little more flexible, and the present includes some nice young players from the Cardinals. If I were the Rockies, I wouldn't trade Tulowitzki unless the offer made me giggle and roll around on the floor.
But I also would have thought long and hard about the Red Sox/Dodgers trade, overrating Adrian Gonzalez and minimizing just how hard that contract (and Carl Crawford's) made it for Boston. So maybe you shouldn't listen to me.
This is only the most important decision in franchise history, one that could lead to complete ruination and a loss of trust from the fan base, or one that could lead to titles and titles and titles and titles. No pressure. I'd stick with Tulowitzki. But I'd understand why the Rockies might not. The only thing I know for sure is that I'm glad I'm not Dan O'Dowd this week.