Justin Upton Can Save the Rockies

I have written thousands of words on the fate of the Colorado Rockies in 2012.  Their fate is not good.

In the midst of writing another 2,000 word manifesto about the failure of the Rockies and the imminent demise of general manager Dan O’Dowd, I realized that topic is tired.  I have read dozens of columns with the same theme – burn down the house and start over with new management and (hopefully) players.

If the Rockies are truly concerned about becoming a sustainable model for consistent pennant contention, one trade prior to July 31st could solve their problems.

Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton is on the trade market.  The Rockies should pull the trigger on the biggest blockbuster trade in the history of their franchise, acquiring Upton for their three or four best prospects.

Before the Monforts have a chance to shoot this trade down and resuscitate the build from within theory that has failed the Rockies for so long, this deal makes sense for myriad of reasons.

  1.  The Rockies have not drafted and developed an above average Major Leaguer since Troy Tulowitzki.  Before that, it was Matt Holliday, and before that it was Todd Helton.  THAT IS ALL, folks.  Upton fits the bill as a middle-of-the-order, franchise bat.
  2. Given the Rockies poor track record of developing both field players and hitters, it is wise to start trading them away before their value is gone.  Nolan Arenado, Christian Friedrich, Tyler Matzek, and Tim Wheeler seems like a great place to start the trade framework.  Toss in Tyler Colvin and Matt Belisle, and you have a win-win trade for both the Rockies and Diamondbacks.
  3. The years of effective offensive play from Todd Helton seems to be over.  By shifting Michael Cuddyer to first base full-time, sticking with Dexter Fowler for the long haul, and adding Justin Upton to the right field position, the Rockies can enter 2013 (2014, 2015, and 2016 for that matter) with the best 3 – 6 line-up in the National League.
  4. The NL West is not a strong division.  Obviously, the 2012 edition of the local nine is not going to make a run.  2013 contention is not should not be out of the question.  If the young starters in the rotation continue to develop, and Upton is added to the middle of the lineup, 2013 contention MUST not be out of the question.
  5. On the Upton side, his salary is palatable in both salary and term.  He has four years remaining on a six year, $50 million deal.  He is 24 years old, and on the cusp of entering his prime as a Major League hitter.  Upton is a young, marketable, economical stud entering his prime.
  6. Perhaps the best case for the trade is the condition of the Rockies organization.  The ownership group has taken more blows to the face than Chael Sonnen in Sonnen v. Silva.  In order to maintain the good faith of their supporters and validly pursue their dream of maintaining a consistent contender, the acquisition of Upton is the best course of action.  The trade could turn the franchise for the better, and possibly even save Mr. O’Dowd’s job.  These two outcomes align most clearly with the declared direction of the franchise under the Brothers Monfort – win consistently and ensure that O’Dowd’s exit from the Rockies front office is in a box.

Next year’s line-up would feature an outfield of Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, and Justin Upton with EY Jr. filling in as the fourth outfielder and bench base runner.  Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer will serve the offensive pop from the infield, and the team will still need to fill holes at third and second.  The trade saves promising young catcher Wilin Rosario as the feature backstop and give the team 25-home run potential in the 8th spot in the line-up.

The rotation will still have more questions than answers, but Drew Pomeranz looks good after a minor league “rehabilitation” trip in June.  The remaining rotational spots will demand attention, with improvement from young pitchers like Alex White, continued steadying performances from Jeff Francis, and the awaited returns of Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge de la Rosa.

The acquisition of Justin Upton is the Rockies best path out of the franchise’s worst season.  Time to pull the trigger.

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