How much more damage can be done to the broken hearts of Rockies fans?
When he is traded from Colorado, Trevor Story is going to leave scars as permanent as the dent he put in the baseball with a home run that shot off his bat at 110 mph and cleared the left field fence in Seattle on Wednesday faster than you can say: OMG!
Story is the ultimate pro. But he’s also human. So the trade rumors are on his mind.
“He’s hanging in there. I think in this situation, with all the noise that’s out there, it’s hard not to hear it. It’s hard not to think about it,” Rockies manager Bud Black said Wednesday, after Story blasted a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning during the Rockies’ 5-2 victory against the Mariners.
After 666 games and 142 dingers wearing purple, it’s sad to think we’re watching Story play his trade for Colorado for the last time before joining the Yankees, Athletics or some other lucky major-league team in a trade.
“I know that’s a possibility,” said Story, when I asked him about a trade to an unknown destination. “That’s obviously kind of out my hands. So I try not to think about it. There’s not much I can do about it.” .
But you know what would be worse than saying farewell to Story before the July 30 trade deadline?
If the Rockies dawdle, wait so long the market for an expensive rental player dries up and don’t get anywhere near fair value for Story, it would be a catastrophe. And an even worse nightmare scenario: Colorado lets Story walk as a free agent at season’s end, with nothing more to show for their 28-year-old shortstop than a compensatory draft pick.
After the Nolan Arenado fiasco, would the Rockies dare repeat the embarrassment of ignoring the inevitable departure of a star player to the point of negligence? I would like to tell you there’s no way. Except when we’re talking about this franchise’s front office, where farm director Zach Wilson has become the second prominent exec to resign since general manager Jeff Bridich bailed in late April, it’s never safe to underestimate the ineptitude at 20th and Blake.
When interim general manager Bill Schmidt assembles a meeting to finalize plans for next month’s draft, there’s more empty chairs than brain power in the room. While franchise owner Dick Monfort will gladly pour you an overpriced beer to watch a glorious sunset over the mountains, he’s painfully slow to hire a solid baseball man who can bring fresh ideas to a team that has lost its way since back-to-back playoff appearances in 2017 and ’18.
After scuffling at the plate and nursing a sore elbow earlier this season, Story has begun to look of late like the all-star shortstop we know and love. He crushed another home run against the Mariners in the eighth inning, bolstering his batting average to a sizzling .400 in eight games since June 15. The native of Texas is heating up with the weather.
But rather than being a legit candidate to doff his cap to the home crowd July 13 at the All-Star Game at Coors Field, Story still has work to do to avoid having the least-productive offensive season of his brilliant six-year career in the major leagues.
So there’s no reason to hold Story against his will in a Rockies uniform until after the big, mid-summer baseball bash in LoDo. In all likelihood, his value as a rental player, especially to a budget-conscious team like Oakland, diminishes every additional game he plays for Colorado.
Why wait until tomorrow when it’s a good day to trade a Story?
“I really try to be present, be here with my guys … I love these guys,” Story said. “I really try to entrench myself in the everyday battles that go on.”
The Yankees, hurting for a big bat and a slick glove after entering the season with World Series aspirations, might be tempted to up their ante in trade discussions for Story. It would be foolishly optimistic, however, to hope New York would include 24-year-old infielder Gleyber Torres in a deal for Story.
Parting with Story will indeed be painful for the Rockies. But the departure will be harder for embittered fans to swallow if the team doesn’t use the trade as an opportunity to clearly detail a long-term plan for a return to relevancy. Schmidt knows his baseball, but inspirational speeches are not his bag.
I’m not certain if Monfort has a clue, so am happy to humbly offer a hint: Rather than burdening Schmidt with the thankless task of trading Story, the Rockies need to get busy and be prepared to announce a new general manager when the baseball world turns its eyes to Colorado for the All-Star Game.
If I correctly understand Monfort’s modus operandi, he would like somebody in charge that not only understands the peculiarities of baseball at 5,280 feet above sea level but also has an affinity for Colorado.
So kindly allow me to donate my two cents.
No. 1: Hire Clint Hurdle to return positive energy to the front office.
No. 2: He has never been a general manager, but Hurdle would embrace a team in need of love with a hug so hard that it could make all of Colorado smile.
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