Friday, July 31, 2009

Rockies Ownership Shows Commitment To Winning With Moves

Go back one year ago. The Rockies were living in a fantasy world thinking that they were still in the National League West race. They knew that the odds of signing upcoming free agent Brian Fuentes was slim to none and Matt Holliday, who had rejected several of the teams offers for a long-term deal, was in high demand. Not with the Rockies cheapskate owners, as so many fans like to call them.

Instead of dealing Holliday and Fuentes, the Rockies kept them, knowing that they would receive compensation picks for Fuentes when he signed somewhere else, and that they would still be able to get a good deal for Holliday either in the offseason or before the 2009 deadline.

After the disappointing 2008 season was finally over, many fans were calling for Dick and Charlie Monfort, the Rockies owners, to step up and give both Fuentes and Holliday what they were asking for.

Fans were quickly disappointed when Holliday was moved less than two weeks after the World Series to the Oakland A's for a package that included two minor leaguers and a former closer who had been replaced by a rookie.

If that disappointment was not enough, after searching high and low for a team that would give him the money that he felt he deserved, Fuentes settled for a deal with the Angels worth just slightly more than what the Rockies were trying to sign him for.

The remaining bandwagon fans from the 2007 run jumped off for the last time. This was now a team that was destined to lose 100 games and finish dead last in the N.L. West. It was a team that had a washed up first baseman, a right fielder who could not hit lefties, a shortstop who was a one year wonder and a pitching staff that's ace had won only four games the previous season and was injured for the majority of the year.

The worst part, for those fans, was that the front office was filled with a bunch of money-hungry cowards who could care less if the team won or lost on a nightly basis.

It must have been tough for the Monforts and Dan O'Dowd to read the paper everyday and see their names get dragged through the mud. If the truth were known, their patience had to have worn thin with fans that consistently questioned their every move.

Despite the desperate calls for them to sell the team, the Monforts pressed on. They trusted their plan and believed that it was the way to bring a consistent winner to Coors Field.

At the trade deadline in 2009, the Monforts have proven that they are right.

One week ago the Rockies unloaded a single-A reliever for Rafael Betancourt, a reliever who has been dominant for much of his career. It was exciting for Rockies fans, but no one felt like that move alone would be enough to push the team into the playoffs, especially considering the fact that bringing in one reliever to the bullpen was like putting scotch tape over the hole in the Titanic.

Everything suggested that the Rockies were done making moves and would do their best to contend with the talent that was on board. Betancourt had been a good addition, and the "cheapskate" owners had appeased the masses by bringing on a little more salary with that trade.

While the suggestions and the reputation said that the Rockies were done, news came across that they were still looking for a lefty reliever, someone who could come in during a tough situation so that Franklin Morales would not be thrown into too many situations that he is not ready for.

As the deadline approached, the Rockies seemed less and less likely to make a last minute move. However, in the last few minutes to make a deal, the club announced that it had made its move and acquired lefty specialist Joe Beimel from the Washington Nationals. He is exactly what the club was looking for, he never gives up home runs and is extremely tough on even the best lefties.

The fear then set in for fans because the team had not mentioned who they had traded. Most thought that for the Nat's to part with Beimel it was going to take future second baseman Eric Young Jr. Young is someone who the fans have not wanted to see get shipped off, and the front office had been reluctant to discuss.

Then news came that the deal only involved prospects Ryan Mattheus, a Triple-A reliever coming off arm surgery and Class-A pitcher Robinson Fabian.

What the move shows is that these owners are doing everything in their power to help this club win now. Contrary to opinion, they are not simply throwing a mediocre team on the field and hoping for the best. They are looking for ways to maximize a team that has been built through keen observation and hard work. They are taking on more salary, close to half a million dollars with Beimel alone after incentives kick in, and are working hard to find the right pieces to the puzzle without selling off the future.

The Monforts are defying public criticism and showing their loyal fan base that they want to win, and win now.

While the ride has been bumpy, and by no means are the Rockies going to be handed a playoff spot by picking up Betancourt and Beimel, but it proves that the front office is doing everything in their power to get this team into contention and bring a winning squad to the fans in Colorado.

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