With just three games left this season, it looks like the Dodgers and Rockies will finish at opposite ends of the division. I recently interviewed Greg Stanwood of Purple Row about Colorado's 2013 season. Here are his answers:
David Lauterbach: Last time we spoke you said Rex Brothers was the team's Cy Young AND MVP? Still believe that's the case?
Greg Stanwood: Sort of. Brothers has put up the one of the best seasons of relief in Rockies history as a combined setup guy/closer. I think the more traditional Cy pick would be Jhoulys Chacin, whose bounce-back from his strange 2012 injury has been as smooth as we could have ever hoped. Troy Tulowitzki has also had another excellent season. But it's hard for me to say that there's been any player quite so uniformly successful as Brothers this year. It's a tough call.
DL: What about the team's rookie of the year?
GS: Has to be Nolan Arenado, who has room to grow offensively and whose clutch reputation wasn't fully deserved, but promises to be an important part of the Rockies core moving forward.
DL: Todd Helton announced a while back this was his last season. What has he meant to the Rockies over his career?
GS: From 1998 through to 2007, Helton was the face of a franchise that had very little else going for it. From the Rockies' miracle postseason run and the emergence of Troy Tulowitzki as "team leader" (whatever that means), Helton's role faded deeper into the background, but he has remained the most visible and recognizable franchise icon. From today's perspective, Rockies fans are losing the only constant in essentially three entire eras of the team's history and an entire generation of Rockies fandom.
DL: Do you think Colorado will keep Helton in the organization somehow?
GS: Knowing this organization and their fraternity mentality, that's certainly a possibility, but Helton is a pretty private guy who will be totally content spending several years/decades hanging out on his ranch with his family. I definitely do not expect a quick return to the baseball realm, if there's one at all.
DL: What do the Rockies need to do this offseason to compete next year?
GS: 2013's season, despite another ugly W/L, actually came away with more than a few positive answers to some unsettling questions. We learned that our core of players is really close to being competitive, with all of our most important areas covered nicely. We have a higher upside offensive core than we have in several years, a top of the rotation that will compete in every game and our nice young closer to boot. But with that core consisting of a mix of youth and injury prone players, the Rockies need a strong supporting cast to keep the team afloat when we can't get the Tulowitzkis and Gonzali on the field. In addition to looking to improve upon Helton's vacated lineup spot, the franchise will need to be very active in building a solid bench, back of the rotation, and bullpen depth if they want to compete.
DL: Should Colorado consider trading Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez this offseason?
GS: It would be irresponsible for the team not to listen for the perfect offer, but I am not in favor of a traditional firesale mentality this offseason. This sort of behavior is more suited for a team that needs to blow up its core and restart from the ground up. The Rockies are in deeper need of supporting players, which aren't the kind of guys you get for players of this caliber. A trade of either of these players will almost guarantee an immediate step backwards in 2014 performance, and while it may well make 2016 or so+ a little bit sweeter on paper, a trade of that kind would essentially be a concession of the work that has been done to build this core, and I don't think the Rockies are quite so far away from contending as for that to be a worthwhile risk. The Rockies are in an awkward position right now of having enough high-level pieces to build a competitive team around, but not enough resources (or enough drive to pursue the resources) to break the team through that barrier into being competitive.
DL: At the beginning of the season, did you think the Rockies would end up at the bottom of the division at the end of the year?
GS: General consensus was that the Rockies would probably land somewhere between third and fifth in the division. The good April might have exaggerated those expectations a little bit for some, but considering how close third-fifth are in the division this year, I'd say our initial expectations were fairly accurate. I felt that this team was capable of putting up 80 wins or so at their ceiling this year, but lower 70s was more in the area of realism, and that's exactly where we'll end up, it seems.
DL: Should the team bring back Walt Weiss next year as manager?
GS: Yes? No? No opinion? The problem with managers is that while it's easy to see what they don't bring to the table, it's very difficult to see what they actually do. Weiss in particular is hard to get a read on. He's not an especially open or engaging personality and spends most of his public face time looking bored or confused. In addition to giving off a bad impression, it makes his true feelings and philosophies very difficult to hone in on. The real answer here is that I really don't have a dog in this fight. Do they have someone better? I don't really think so.
DL: Series prediction?
GS: Hard to make a series prediction with no projected Dodgers starters, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that the Dodgers take the first two and the Rockies close out the season with a win, based on absolutely no relevant information whatsoever.