Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fans have earned the right to be cynical about the Colorado Rockies

Eddie Butler is one reason for Rockies fans to be excited.
Hope springs eternal.

Something about those words gives fans of the 29 teams that didn't win the World Series a reason to be excited every February. Those are the words that Colorado Rockies fans have had to live by for a very long time.

The Rockies are the epitome of that saying. Every season they seem to come into spring with enough talent to threaten. They have a chance to be good.

If everyone stays healthy. If the bullpen can be consistent. If the starting rotation can keep them in games. If the offense hits the way that they are capable of hitting. There are plenty of "ifs" for the Rockies. That is the way this team is constructed.

When John Elway famously said "there is no Plan-B" when he was asked for the backup plan after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd probably felt like the line was plagiarized. O'Dowd has built his teams with no Plan-B for years.

The 2014 season is slightly different for the Rockies. In the past three seasons, the talent at the Major League level was good enough to compete, but there was no depth if and when something went wrong. Predictably, things went wrong and the season spiraled out of control. However, this year the Rockies have a contingency plan.

The contingency plan for the 2014 Rockies comes in the form of two stud pitching prospects. Jon "don't call me Jonathan" Gray, the Rockies first round draft pick last June, and Eddie Butler, the team's supplemental first round pick in the 2012 June draft, sit poised to be called-upon. The last time the minor league system boasted two pitching prospects that even closely resembled Butler and Gray was in the form of Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales.

Any Rockies fan remembers the impact that those two prospects had when they were called upon in 2007. Without a doubt, had the Rockies not seen major contributions from both Morales and Jimenez, the Rockies run to the World Series never would have happened. If Gray and Butler can pitch beyond their years and prove to be ready to contribute at the big league level, the Rockies may have enough depth to remain a factor deep into the season.

With Butler and Gray close, forgive the average Rockies fan for being cynical. Forgive them for not being as excited as they have been in years past. Forgive them for waiting to see what happens before they jump back on the bandwagon.

There may not be a more burned fan base than the ones 5,280 feet above sea level. For years they have heard excuses for blatant failures. They have been told that the prospects that are on the horizon are much better than they actually are. They have been sold a bag of goods with nearly every free agent signing. They have been told not to complain and that they have to trust the organization.

When Rockies ownership opens their mouth, they sound foolish. It isn't a slight against them as individuals, but simply a reality. Dick Monfort genuinely wants to win, but doesn't expect backlash when he publicly declares that the team really only needs to be competitive 40% of the time. He tells the Denver Post that O'Dowd is the best GM in baseball, and takes to Twitter to defend what is largely seen as an average farm system by saying that the Rockies possess the best system in the game.

Anyone beyond the average baseball fan can see that Monfort has the wool pulled over his eyes by the front office that he has no other options than to trust.

So while excitement is felt in nearly every spring, and while there are several reasons to be excited for a 2014 campaign, forgive the die-hard Rockies fan for being cynical. Forgive them for not wanting to jump right back in to trust-mode.

After several years of being willing to trust this team again, Rockies fans have the right to be skeptical.

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  1. Great article and soooo true too!

  2. Yes, many Rockies fans are beyond cynical.