Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Heading Into 2010 The Excitement Returns


It must be the end of January.

The Broncos have been done for almost a month and 45 degrees feels really warm. Another sign of the end of January is a flurry of baseball moves waking the sport from its winter of slumber. These moves warm the heart of baseball fans around the country.

This offseason has been a strange one for Rockies fans. The team essentially made the playoffs after squandering away the first two months of the season and spending the final four months of what is supposed to be a marathon season in a dead sprint.

The last time the Rockies finished the season in a sprint, they stunned the baseball world and found themselves in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. The World Series was a disappointment, but a National League pennant was far more than any Rockies fan expected before the season began.

After the Rockies flamed out to the eventual National League Champs the feeling was different. The word many Rockies fans were using to describe their feelings in the days after the NLDS was a resounding "tired."

Taking a few weeks away from thinking about baseball seemed to be the main course of action for Rockies fans. It was hard to think about pouring all the emotions required for another run at the playoffs.

However, the holidays passed and suddenly the countdown was on for Spring Training. Suddenly the excitement for another season of Rockies baseball was back.

The Rockies had been relatively quiet throughout the offseason. Beyond signing Chris Iannetta to a three-year deal and parting ways with Yorvit Torrealba, nothing big had happened.

The silence came to an end last week when the Rockies announced several deals. All of which are very exciting for Rockies fans. First, in somewhat of a surprise, the team announced that they had signed Ryan Spilborghs for two years, buying him out of his arbitration years.

Then the big deals were announced.

The Rockies had locked up the back end of the bullpen by signing setup man Rafael Betancourt for two years and closer Huston Street for three years with an option for a fourth year.

The moves provide stability for the Rockies, but also mark a new chapter in the franchise's history. The "Todd and the Toddlers" era was over. Many fans suspected that the ownership of the club is cheap and would become a farm team for the rest of the league. Once a prospect became a good player and was ready to sign a big contract, the Rockies would ship them off.

The skeptics were proven wrong with the Street deal. If the theories were correct, the Rockies would have simply used Street for as long as possible and then either traded him at the July 31st trading deadline or watched him walk away at the end of the 2010 season.

Instead, the front office showed that they want to develop talent, and do whatever they can to keep that talent in the big leagues. While Street was not a Rockies prospect, he still represents a young star who had yet to reach his free agent years.

After the Street deal was made public, the Rockies announced at their Fan Fest on Saturday that they had re-signed Jason Giambi to a one-year $1.75 million contract.

That move was another deal that showed the skeptics what the team was actually all about. Instead of standing pat with a young prospect off of the bench, the Rockies reached deep into their wallets to sign a guy like Giambi who provides clubhouse leadership and the ability to provide a quality at-bat off of the bench.

While inevitably the Rockies will not be able to sign contracts that will keep all of their star players in a Rockies uniform, the ownership group is showing their fans that they are willing to put a competitive offer on the table and do what they can to convince the player to continue calling Coors Field their home.

That should be quite a relief to any Rockies fan who stuck with the team through the tough years.

While the 2010 Rockies still have a few question marks, it should be encouraging to Rockies fans that they have a team that will be in the hunt for years to come.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

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