Kiszla vs. Saunders: Will the Rockies ever tear down and rebuild?
Kiz: It’s July. The heart of summer, when a young man’s thoughts turn to peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jack. The Avalanche victory parade is over. Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is jumping around the globe with Ciara until training camp begins late this month. This should be the Rockies’ time in the spotlight. But instead, they’re stumbling around in the dark in the N.L. West basement alongside the Diamondbacks. I’m tired of the same old, same old. Shouldn’t the Rockies blow it all up and commit to a total rebuild?
Saunders: Kiz, Kiz, Kiz … you disappoint me, my friend. You’ve been around long enough to know that’s not going to happen. A total rebuild would include shaking up not only the roster but the front office. That’s simply not in the Rockies’ DNA. The signing of Kris Bryant for seven years and $172 million told us all that. Rebuilding is simply not part of the Rockies’ vocabulary. You can ask Nolan Arenado about that. Those of us on the outside — and some on the inside — understand that this team doesn’t have the talent to contend. But the powers that be at 20th and Blake think the club is only a couple of pieces away.
Kiz: I don’t dream of baseball often, but when I do, visions of sugar plums and an infield of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, DJ LeMahieu and C.J. Cron dance in my head. Those guys could’ve been contenders, eh? I get why the Rockies need to churn the roster, they just don’t seem to do it with much foresight. So help me out here, my savvy seamhead friend. If the Rockies hate to use the “R-word,” what exactly is the long-term plan to make this team a playoff contender in a highly competitive division?
Saunders: Sugar plums? Cracker Jack? I didn’t realize that under that tough columnist exterior there was a man with a sweet tooth. The long-term plan is to keep the current starting rotation together, then build around Bryant, infielders Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers and count on uber-talented prospects such as outfielder Zac Veen, catcher Drew Romo and shortstop Ezequiel Tovar. The problem is, the windows won’t be open at the same time. By the time the prospects blossom, starting pitching will be a huge question mark.
Kiz: Colorado is blessed with sunshine, one major reason we have so many baseball-loving transplants jamming the roads in this dusty old cowtown. Between fans that show up to Coors Field cheering for the Dodgers, Cardinals or whatever real baseball team is visiting town, and revelers that like to hang out and drink beer on the party deck, the Rockies seem assured of selling at least two million tickets every season, regardless of their record. I’d like to think that economic reality would make it easier to commit to a total rebuild of the Rockies. Your take?
Saunders: Interesting point, but I don’t think owner Dick Monfort sees it that way. He likes star power, hence the contract to Bryant, which was the biggest free-agent deal in franchise history. I also think Monfort feels he owed it to the fans to get Bryant after the Arenado fiasco. Finally, visions of 2005 still haunt the Rockies. That was the so-called Gen-R team and it drew just the smallest crowds in franchise history (1.9 million, an average of 23,634 per game) and ranked 14th in the NL in attendance. Monfort doesn’t want to see that happen again.