Let’s make no mistake about it: the Denver Broncos are #1 in Denver. By a wide margin. The Rockies might have been close in 2007 but I am talking close like Denver to San Diego close. Ya, not close.
March Madness is heading into its second weekend of games, NBA and NHL are in full action (Avalanche are 14-5-2 in their last 21 games) and Spring Training is winding down and the Rockies are set to take the field for live baseball in about 2 weeks. There has been plenty of news regarding gas prices, the wreck on 225 yesterday morning, GOP races and numerous other things worthy of Adele Arakawa’s time and effort. All anyone wants to talk about in Denver is Peyton Manning. Every news channel has had more sports coverage in the past three days than weather. ESPN is all NFL between Manning, Tim Tebow being traded and the Saints punishment. As baseball fans it is times like this when there is no denying that the NFL is #1 in the hearts of America and baseball has fallen to a distant second.
In Denver it is even more obvious as the Broncos rule the airwaves (both radio and television). Is there anything the Rockies could do to create a wave of news like the Broncos did this week? Is there a free agent signing that would produce this much news? I think the answer is an easy “no” at this point but there are a few free agent signings that would bring quite a bit of attention to the Purple Pinstripes.
If the Rockies would have spent $250 million on Pujols this past offseason that certainly would have made the news. I would say that even if the signing was announced during the NFL playoffs the week in which the Broncos were playing the Steelers the Rockies might have gotten the front page headline on the sports section of the Denver Post. The news would have been huge for two reasons, 1. the signing itself and 2. because it would been the end of Todd Helton in a Rockies uniform.
But what sort of upcoming free agent signings or trades could the Rockies make to knock the Broncos off of 104.3 the Fan? Oh, wait, 104.3 doesn’t talk baseball, at least not when Al and D-Mac are on the air. Maybe the Rockies could get some pub on 102.3? Yes, I am bitter. It will be all NFL draft talk for the next two months, then the optional required mini camp workouts, then preseason and all the meanwhile no one will talk baseball. Even the new pre/post game guy for Root Sports for the Rockies tweets about the Broncos 99% of the time. Bitter, I am.
There were rumors last year that the Rockies might be looking to make a trade for Wright. It seems that the New York Mets are dumping salaries and players due to their financial woes and Wright is slated to make $16 million next year if the Mets pick up their club option. If the Rockies were to trade for Wright, who slugged over .500 as recently as 2010, it would make headlines. Not only is Wright a very good baseball player (I wouldn’t say great since the team moved to Citi Field but a trade to Coors might make him great once again) but he has the face, personality and rapport with the media that would make him an immediate favorite in Denver. With Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop the Rockies would have the best left side infield in baseball and with Carlos Gonzalez in the lineup the Rockies would have a middle of the order better than most any in baseball if Wright was added.
Stick with me for a bit here. Let’s say the Rockies start off hot and their offense in 2012 is enough to carry the team’s less than stellar pitching. Come July the team might need to start looking for a top end starting pitcher to help bolster their rotation for the second half of the season if they want to make the playoffs. The addition of Jorge De La Rosa fresh off of the DL isn’t enough because, frankly, outside of DLR and Jhoulys Chacin the Rockies don’t have another pitcher they would trust in a must-win game scenario in August and September. Let’s face it, Jeremy Guthrie eats innings and earned runs.
On the other hand the Philadelphia Phillies are obliterated with injuries. Ryan Howard was out of the lineup longer than expect and Chase Utley still isn’t playing with his bad wheels. Jimmy Rollins isn’t getting better, just older and Dominic Brown hasn’t taken his AAA hitting to the big leagues. The team’s offense in the dumps, quite the change from the Phillies powerhouse lineup of recent history, and while the pitching has been tremendous it isn’t enough to keep up with the always solid Atlanta Braves and much improved Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals – yes, the Washington Nationals. The team already is saddled with major contracts and doesn’t think it can sign Cole Hamels in the coming offseason so they look to trade him…to Colorado.
While Hamels doesn’t have the name recognition that a lot of MLB’ers might carry, he is really, really good. Those who follow baseball know who he is but to get into this discussion we need to really get those folks who casually follow baseball psyched up. His changeup is perfect for Denver and he is still young enough that the Rockies could make him a deal in the offseason to keep him. But that isn’t here nor there at this point as the Rockies are trying to make a playoff push.
Much like Patrick Roy’s introduction to Denver in the mid-1990’s (remember how no one could pronounce his name correctly when he was first traded) the city is both curiously intrigued and amazingly excited about the acquisition of this player they have never heard of but Woody Paige is telling them he is really, really good.
I think under the right circumstances the acquisition of Hamels would be huge for the Rockies (obviously) and it would also create the sort of buzz around Denver to overtake the nightly news for a few days. At least until he made his first start with the Rockies which would likely be only a few days after his trade.
I know there is a lot of dreaming up there, especially in the Hamels scenario, but is there anyone else the Rockies could land that would make a huge splash? I am trying to keep it in the realm of possibility in that I am assuming the Giants aren’t going to trade Tim Lincecum for some strange reason now that they just signed him. Same with Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander. The Tampa Bay Rays wouldn’t be caught dead trading away Evan Longoria and the Texas Rangers will not send Josh Hamilton away mid-season (but would he bring headlines to Denver if the Rox signed him this upcoming offseason? He is a free agent to be).
Let me know what you think in the comments.