|Nolan Arenado made his much anticipated debut on Sunday.|
The Colorado Rockies lost another sloppy game on Sunday to the Arizona Diamondbacks, dropping three of four in the desert.
However, Rockies fans everywhere should be smiling.
Early on Sunday morning, it was announced that the Rockies had made a move that had been anticipated by the fan base for the past two years. Nolan Arenado, the club’s top prospect, and probably the most highly touted minor leaguer in the club’s 20 year history, was finally on his way to the big league club.
There have been rumblings for Arenado since he led the entire organization in RBIs in Single-A Modesto in 2011. In just 134 games he had 122 RBIs. He followed up that performance by winning the Arizona Fall League MVP. That award was no small accomplishment, as both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were participating.
Arenado was far less of a standout in Double-A Tulsa in 2012, but came into spring training with a point to prove. He dominated the early part of spring and jumped back to the forefront of the Rockies minds’ as well as the fans. In his month of Triple-A action, Arenado made it clear that the Pacific Coast League was a step below where he belongs. In 66 at-bats, the third baseman hit .364 and had already driven in 21 runs.
Stats aside, the move screams for the attention of the cynical Rockies fan. It yells from the highest peak to the fans who criticize the Monforts for not caring about winning. It completely trashes that theory.
For the Rockies to call up Arenado on April 28th shows that the Rockies believe that the can contend, and that they can contend right now.
What the move says is that the Rockies aren’t going through the motions in 2013. They are off to a fast start and they believe that adding Arenado to an already potent offense will increase their chances at staying near the top of the National League West for the duration of the season. They believe that calling up their stud prospect would help them stay there.
The move screams to the Rockies fan who has been afraid to jump on the early season bandwagon because of bitterness left over from 2012. It screams that the Rockies are not rebuilding, they are actively contending. It says that if the front office believes that this team can win in 2013, not 2014 or 2015, right now.
The Rockies front office is making a move that says they don’t believe that the early season success of this team is a mirage. They believe they are for real, and they are going to do what it takes to equip this team with the talent it is going to take to make a run. That should be exciting for Rockies fans, especially those who have suffered through the doldrums of the past three seasons.
The move also flies in the face of the critics who say that the Rockies aren’t concerned about anything more than money. One of the most common criticisms of the Rockies is that their owners don’t care about winning as long as 30,000 fans continue to pour through the gates of Coors Field.
If that were true, Arenado wouldn’t see the big leagues until at least the middle of June. What the Rockies have done by calling up the prospect before May is ensure that they will lose one of his pre-arbitration years. At this point, Arenado will qualify as a “super-two”, meaning after two full seasons, plus his partial season of service time in 2013, he will qualify for an extra season of arbitration eligibility.
That might not mean anything to the common fan, but what it means to the owners is that instead of getting to renew Arenado’s contract for close to the league minimum in his fourth big league season, which is normal for most players, Arenado will qualify for arbitration, which will increase his salary by several hundred thousand dollars, if not millions, at that point.
The fact that the Monforts easily could have told the front office to hold off on calling up Arenado for that simple reason, and didn’t, shows that they care about winning, and winning now. It shows that they aren’t pinching pennies at the expense of the franchise and their fans.
After two very bad seasons of baseball in Colorado, fans should be thrilled to see the team that they root for doing everything in their power to win. They should be excited to see that this front office believes that this isn’t a baseball team that is years away from contention, but that they are currently in a spot where they have a chance to be playing for a playoff spot before the summer turns to fall.
Despite a loss on Sunday, and despite the fact that the Rockies had a tough week, fans should be thrilled that their team is far better off than anyone thought they were. They are in a position to make a run, and there is nothing holding them back. The front office is behind it, and the owners are behind it.
It might be time to believe that this team actually has a chance.