When we talk about player development machines, the Braves and Twins are usually the first two organizations everyone mentions. However, the Rockies have one of the most home grown teams in recent history, and their core of players developed from within look to be ready to put their stamp on the National League.
On days when Seth Smith starts over Carlos Gonzalez, every single position player on the team will be playing for the only organization they’ve ever known. And of course, Gonzalez was acquired for Matt Holliday, who the Rockies developed internally. Dan O’Dowd and his staff should be incredibly proud of the work they’ve done in building this team from the ground up.
Of course, you don’t win a title for having the most players come up through your farm system, but the Rockies are certainly contenders for the big trophy handed out in November. They are a well balanced club that is capable of winning in a lot of ways. They have good hitters, good fielders, and a really good starting rotation. The bullpen is a question, but it’s also the easiest thing to fix. On paper, the Rockies are right there with the Dodgers as co-favorites for the NL West title, and they could make all kinds of noise in October if they earn a playoff berth.
However, for all the things the Rockies have done well, I still question whether they’ll make the right moves to capitalize on their window. Their management does far more good than bad, but some of the bad things are just head scratching. Why is Brad Hawpe still on this team? Why won’t they let Chris Iannetta play more often? Why does Huston Street, frequent visitor of the disabled list, get a three year deal? Why spend $3 million on Jason Giambi and Melvin Mora, but ignore opportunities to bolster the bullpen in a market where relief pitching was cheap?
The Rockies have a real opportunity to throw a parade with the core they have in place. To cash in and win it all, however, they’ll need to maximize their return on investment, and that hasn’t been a strength of the front office. With a few minor tweaks, this could be the best team in the NL – I’m just not sure why those tweaks weren’t made this winter.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.