Monday, February 25, 2013

Should the Colorado Rockies trade Troy Tulowitzki?

Trading Tulowitzki would be a huge mistake.
As the Colorado Rockies start playing spring training games, the offseason news has just begun.

During the offseason, a few rogue reports suggested that the Rockies explore trades for both superstars Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. The thinking is that with the Rockies clearly in rebuilding mode, the team should ship off their two best players to get prospects in return.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort quickly squelched reports that the club would deal either player. However, as most people who follow sports understand, an owner doesn't always stick to what he promises the fan base. Want proof? Talk to a Miami Marlins fan.

On Monday, the rumors began to swirl in earnest, as Yahoo Sports reported that the St. Louis Cardinals have engaged the Rockies in trade discussions regarding Tulowitzki.

As it has been well documented on this blog, I feel that Tulowitzki has quite a bit of growing up to do. I believe that the organization thrust the leadership tag upon him far too early, and frankly, he simply might not be cut out to be a leader.

On July 30th, 2011, when the Rockies shockingly dealt Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians, fans were treated to post game comments from Tulowitzki that suggested he was happy to see Jimenez leave and that the pieces that were coming back to the club sounded like a great return for the Rockies.

Later in 2011, Tulo ripped starting pitcher Jason Hammel, who gave up six runs in the first two innings of a game against the Dodgers on August 19th. The Rockies ended up losing 8-2, and Tulo comments once again were scathing. A paraphrased version of his comments were that the team doesn't really have a chance when the starting pitcher gives up six runs before the offense has a chance to get all the way through the order.

Were Tulowitzki's comments justified? Maybe. Was he right about some attitude issues? Probably. However, good leadership would never say that in front of the camera. In fact, Hammel never once blamed the offense for him losing games in June of 2011, when he had four starts in which he gave up four runs or less and failed to get a victory.

Those are a few examples of Tulowitzki's need to keep in-house matters away from the media. Good leaders handle issues when the camera is turned off.

With leadership questions, is it time to ship Tulowitzki off, getting top prospects from a team like the Cardinals and jump starting the rebuilding process?

The answer is a resounding no.

Trading Tulowitzki would be the worst decision this franchise could make. The fact is, despite all of the nonsense about moving the best shortstop in the game to third base, the Rockies have one of the best five overall players in the game.

Of course, Tulowitzki's health has been a major concern. However, fans are quick to forget the fluky nature of many of his injuries. Two of his three major stints on the disabled list have come due to freak accidents, or bone-headed moves by the shortstop.

The first came from smashing a bat against the wall in the tunnel underneath Coors Field due to being upset about being replaced. The other came from a riding fastball that broke his hand. Neither injury would suggest a brittleness from Tulo.

When healthy, Tulo is one of the best players in the game on the field. His maturity and leadership remains that question.

For those who have criticized Tulowitzki (myself being one of the most critical), put the shoe on the other foot. Take a look at it from his perspective. Tulo is ultra competitive. He hates to fail. In fact, he doesn't even like to succeed when someone is better than him. He wants to be the best, no matter what. Until 2008, Tulowitzki had never played on a losing team.

Suddenly, a team full of talent starts to lose and Tulowitzki sees that he is the only one who seems to be bothered by it. Guys in the clubhouse don't seem upset about losing, and in fact, don't seem to care at all. The blood starts to boil. Suddenly, a manager whose kick back attitude propelled a resurgence in 2009 has let the reins out too far and can't contain the clubhouse anymore is doing nothing but making excuses. Instead of owning up to bad decisions, Jim Tracy was constantly finding excuse. Now, despite the fact that the losing  won't seem to stop, the front office starts to make decisions based on the same excuse-laden reasons that Tracy has been using. In fact, the general manager has gone as far as to say that the home park results in major injuries for pitchers.

From Tulowitzki's perspective, a guy who goes all out in everything he does, the excuses must have been infuriating. He was watching a team with plenty of talent underperform on a nightly basis with no one taking responsibility.

His reaction to the frustration spilled to the media. It showed up on the Root Sports post game shows. It showed up to fans as a bad attitude, and many times, came across as the single reason why the team was struggling.

Tulowitizki's attitude certainly didn't help. There is no denying that he needs to find better ways to lead and better ways to address issues in the clubhouse. However, he also should be forgiven for lashing out when he saw a team under performing and losing for no other reason then they were defeating themselves. He may have been too quick to call players out, and he may have said it to the wrong people, and that needs to change.

Regardless of the fact that Tulo hasn't handled the past well, fans need to give Tulowitzki a pass for his flaws. They need to let him start fresh.

Despite the fact that the front office hasn't changed, Tulowitzki now has a manager who understands the game from his perspective. He has a guy leading the charge who played the game the same way he does. He got dirty, he wasn't afraid to go all out. Walt Weiss played the game as if he had the talent of Tulowitzki, and made himself a very good player. Having that attitude in the dugout should help Tulo.

He also has a young team that seems to have flushed out many of the attitudes that caused Tulo angst. This is a team with no expectations heaped upon them, and nothing to lose.

Has Tulowitzki made mistakes? Sure, there is no denying that. But the fact is, he is a great player, who can still get better. Rockies fans should give him another chance to prove that he is ready for the challenge and that he has learned from his past mistakes.

Troy Tulowitzki is a once-every-ten-years kind of player. To give up on a guy like that and trade him for even the most promising of prospects would be a huge mistake.

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  1. I agree with most of your analysis. But (and you knew there was a but coming), baseball is a team sport and as the failure of many high dollar teams lately demonstrates, it doesn't matter how many players of Tulo's caliber you have, if that players does more harm than good with his attitude, it doesn't matter how talented or competitive he is. He brings the team down. And that is what we fans are in it for, to see the team succeed as a team and beat the teams like NY or the LAs that think they can buy the game.

  2. I think you definitely listen if the Cardinals are open to dealing Miller/Taveras. It would have to be a package for the ages and I don't trust this FO enough to pull it off but I think the Cardinals farm system matches up with what the Rockies need. Taveras an ELITE corner OF which would need to spend the season in AAA while Todd's contract runs out before Cuddyer moves to 1b next year. Miller seems to bounce back from his slip up last year and people still projecting the #2 ceiling. Then you have rosenthal/martinez with power arms but probably end up in the pen in the long run. A high floor 2b in Wong if they think Rut can handle SS.

    If the package starts with Wong/Rosenthal or Martinez that is when you say no way for an elite player but if the Cardinals are willing to give up the goods of an outstanding system, I don't see any way you don't listen because I don't see the Rockies farm building from within or the FO spending enough to become seriously competitive within Tulo's peak

  3. with Tulo, without Tulo.........the Rockies are a second rate club unable to compete with successful franchises due to an incompetent ownership.

    1. Unfortunately, you've probably hit the biggest nail on the head. Let's hope Weise can make a difference -- and they'll let him!!

  4. No, you don't get rid of Tulo! I don't know who you've been talking to but this is the first time I've heard about the fans being against Tulo because of his attitude. Who wouldn't be irritated if your teammates don't seem to give a rip about losing?! He was probably hoping that calling out the offenders would slap them back into reality and get them to care about the game again. Hopefully the can all start fresh this season and pull out a winning team regardless of the nay sayers and the fair weather fans!

  5. the dodger and giant organizations love the Rockies incompetent owners.......a franchise doomed to the bottom of the division. the Rockies lose......lose a lot....why pay to watch a loser?
    blame the players...hell no...blame an ownership that is incapable of delivering a consistent playoff team.

  6. I don't want him to go! Does he want to go?

  7. It doesn't matter what they do. The Monforts will prevent the team from ever reaching a competitive level. If Tulo is dealt to the Cards we'll get second-rate players in return because management has no idea how to run a ball club. The Rockies haven't done anything in 20 years and they won't as long as the Monforts are lining their pockets without caring about the team or the fans. I root for them because I'm a hometown guy and a Denver native but they need to sell the team to somebody who cares.

    1. I could't agree more, I 've watched the Rockies for a very long time and can't seem to understand why they get really good players and then trade them for second rate players.

  8. I agree completely. Getting rid of Tulo would be the worst decision in a long line of poor decisions by the Rockies. Tulo is one of the best players in the game right now, and he has expressly stated that he wants to play in CO for the length of his career. There would be no package of prospects worth getting rid of the face of your franchise like that, especially with Helton going into his final season. I will, however, say that he NEEDS TO STAY HEALTHY. He has been injured at the all-star break 3 YEARS IN A ROW! Having a Tulo in the lineup every night forces the hand of opposing pitchers. They have to find a way to deal with Cargo, Tulo, Helton, Cuddyer. With Tulo out, they may have more options as a pitcher and it affects the whole lineup.

  9. Thanks to the Monforts, Mr. Helton is an albatross around the neck of the Rockies.......relying on an aged has been at first is just stupid.

  10. You guys are looking at this all wrong. It's not about "get rid of him." It's about the likelihood that the team will be a winner while Tulo is in his prime. He's 27 now; you can expect 4 more years of greatness (while he's healthy) out of him, then about 6 years of a slow, predicable decline (where he's still productive but gradually less so.) Will the Rockies be good enough to benefit from him during that time? If so, keep him. If not, trade him for all you can get.

    You know what puts butts in the seats? Winning games. You don't need a face of the franchise, you need wins. If the team's in the hunt for the division, people will show up. And to do that, you need talent. You need to figure out what kind of pitchers can win here and surround them with capable hitters and excellent defenders.

    I mean, they lost 98 games last year. Do you really think 100 more games of Tulo would have made the difference? The team needs a tremendous infusion of talent (starting with the rotation) the best way to get that is to trade away everyone who won't help you make a run in 2015.

    If the Rockies trade Cuddyer & Tulo, they lose 110 games. That's 10 more than they were going to lose - big deal. If, for that, they get a major haul of talent, take the deal.

  11. Rockies are a losing organization.........0-10 in last 10 post season games........not worthy of admiossion price.

  12. The Monforts have been mentioned several times in this discussion and since they are the principal owners they have to be held at least indirectly responsible for the general lack of success. But I have said it before and I'll say it again, this team will never fully succeed and become a perennial force in the league while Dan O'Dowd is around. (Yes, there has been a "re-organization" in that area so now we have 2 O'Dowds in the mess.) It's not that he's a bad guy, but he's amply proven that he is not a quality GM in MLB.

  13. You don't trade two birds in the hand for unknown birds in the bush