|Trading Tulowitzki would be a huge mistake.|
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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