After a weather delayed loss Monday night to the San Diego Padres, the Colorado Rockies find themselves in last place. Unfortunately for faithful Rockies fans, it's a familiar spot to be in. Yes, injuries have derailed this season, but even so, the organization needs a change. The Rockies need to begin the rebuilding process, but how do you go about building a successful team? There are countless ways, but just a few seem to be used in Major League Baseball. Which one will the Rockies choose?
First off, there are the big spenders. The major market teams that throw money at stars and usually come good. The teams in Los Angeles, the Yankees, the Red Sox, they all have big payrolls and are usually in the championship hunt each season. This team-building strategy doesn't always work, though, ask the Phillies and the Rangers about that this year. Even the Red Sox are struggling this year. This will never be the way the Rockies do things, at least not while current ownership is in control.
Then there are the analysts. Every team uses analytics these days, but only one is truly great at it. Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, owners of the best record and best run differential this season, are the innovators and grandmasters of this technique. And unless Beane wants to come to beautiful Colorado, the Rox will do well to pass on this style.
Most teams, including the Rockies, fall into the next category — the traditionalists. Teams like the Pirates, Giants, Braves and more like the way baseball teams have been built for years. These teams have faith in their scouting departments and trust their draftees and international signings to come through the minors and contribute at the big league level. In addition to this ground-up process, these teams aren't afraid to sign impact free agents or make midseason trades to push them over the top and into the playoffs. The Rockies have tried this throughout the entirety of their existence, but with only three playoff appearances in 21 years, it's time to try something new.
A few teams really can't attract the impact free agents, so they play the waiting game. The Royals and the Brewers make wise trades and sign guys to flexible contracts. Then they wait for their prospects to make an impression in the Majors. Which, at least this season, they have. The Brew Crew is in first in the very competitive NL Central and the Royals are fighting for first in the AL Central. The Rockies could fit in here as they have a decent farm system, but that's if you trust the Rox scouting department and GM Dan O'Dowd.
The last kind of team-building strategy is relatively new in baseball, but is old hat in the NBA. Tanking. Teams forego winning now and they decide to sell off all or most of their movable pieces. Trade established veterans for boatloads of young prospects and pour money into the international market. The Marlins held fire sales after their World Series runs and once again have a good, young team. The Twins traded their movable piece (Morneau) last year and the Cubs have done it this year (Samardzija and Hammel) and pretty much unanimously have the two best farm systems in all of baseball. They'll suffer through 90 or 100 loss seasons now, but come 2017, these two could be beasts competing for rings year after year.
As much as it might hurt the fans, the Rockies need to go ahead and go the way of the Twins and the Cubs. No one on the Major League roster should be considered untouchable except for Nolan Arenado and Eddie Butler. The only way to pull this strategy off is to fully commit to it, and that would necessitate a change at the top. Owner Dick Monfort has been widely criticized for his lackadaisical attitude to winning baseball, and 15-year vet O'Dowd isn't far behind him.
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