I still feel the Rockies are in pretty good shape for next year, considering that what ended up being a 90-win team had two massive power sinks in the lineup (at least one of which will now be gone) and didn't have its first-choice pitching rotation assembled at any time (unless you count Aaron Cook's sad little World Series start). Arizona and Los Angeles have made some moves, but both teams were rather considerably fundamentally worse than Colorado last year, and it would not be at all unreasonable to anticipate some growth on the part of the Rockies' young players, which is almost all of them. I anticipate that some of you are now saying to yourselves, "But, the D-Backs and Dodgers have young players too." That is true. However, the Dodgers have organizational issues -- they don't want to win with the players they have, for some reason -- and Arizona's young players, as a group, didn't play as well as the Rockies' did last year. And of course there's always the Padres, who are supposed to be too old to count, but they still have more pitching than Colorado does and were the "true" second-place team in the NL West last season. We'll write more about the competition in the division when Spring Training is closer on the horizon, but one thing I think all of us who are fans of any team in the NL West can agree upon -- nobody needs to worry about the Giants being good any time soon. Like, the next decade soon.
Anyway, I'm not here today to write about the competition. I'm worried about a franchise that only had three obvious needs going into this offseason only fully addressing one of them, barely trying for another, and completely ignoring/denying the third big necessity. If you watched the team last year, you know what I'm talking about -- Colorado could really use a deeper bullpen, they have a gap at second base left by the departure of Kazuo Matsui, and they have a yawning chasm in center field. I'm not the only person who feels this way -- remember, Willy Taveras was benched for the last two games of the World Series. That's pretty harsh treatment for a guy who was your everyday centerfielder and leadoff hitter for the whole season. Taveras might have been benched more because his sore hamstring kept him from being 100% effective than because Clint Hurdle finally realized as I did long ago that Taveras is a pathetic, grotesque excuse for an everyday major leaguer, but I think that kind of makes my point for me. If a guy completely relies on his speed, and absolutely nothing else, to make him a passable major-league ballplayer, isn't every year you spend with the guy on your payroll past his 25th birthday another turn at Russian roulette? Even if there's no trade market for Willy T the Rockies are being beyond foolish in not bringing a veteran or two into camp to nip at his heels; I'm having no part of another Steve Finley comeback but it looks like Mike Cameron doesn't have a lot of options and there are plenty of teams with centerfielders to trade. If Willy is starting on Opening Day, then Dan O'Dowd was asleep at the switch for the easiest offseason he's ever faced. After years of having question marks all over the field, the Rockies have a pretty credible core assembled at last -- not putting the few last pieces in place to allow that core its best chance at sustained postseason success is a worse crime than keeping the team so crummy for so long in the first place.
Willy Taveras is a losing player. The Rockies want to be a winning team. Make him go away, please, if only to the bench.