2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Rockies: Bye, Dex; Hello, Morneau

Published: December 3, 2013, 10:04 pm, by Paul Klee

One of the things sports people do better than most is overreact to change.

That’s true for fans and media. When Carmelo Anthony is moved, the Nuggets are headed to the lottery. When the Rams forfeit the chance to draft Robert Griffin III or another top prospect with the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft, it’s a white flag. When Trent Richardson is swapped midseason, the Browns are nuts.

In retrospect, those decision-makers were making the right decisions. Funny how that works.

When we let the process play out, we often see the method to their madness. Sometimes the men in charge are in charge for good reason. They make decisions that, initially, bury their PR team but, in the end, turn out just fine, thank you.

Which brings us to the Rockies.

Fans and media will react with a vengeance to the Rockies’ decision to unload Dexter Fowler. Here’s a 27-year-old athlete coming off a solid if injury-plagued season, and Rockies management ditched him for a right hander with a plus-5.00 ERA and a guy with power-hitter strikeout numbers but without the power-hitting numbers. It looks like a salary dump.

If we follow the status-quo reaction inherent with major change, the Rockies got fleeced. By the Astros, no less.

My initial reaction to major change is to ask why. I take the position of devil’s advocate and see if that position makes sense. Maybe the Rockies are simply freeing money to sign Justin Morneau, a sensible fit to replace Todd Helton at first base.

But here’s the thing with siding with Rockies management. It hasn’t given us reason to believe it knows what it’s doing. If this were the Dodgers, who won the NL West with a bank-busting payroll, or the Giants, who won two World Series in four years, or the Diamondbacks, who traded Justin Upton and didn’t go backward, you give management the benefit of the doubt. They earned it.

But it’s not. This is the Rockies, and Rockies management is fighting a public sentiment that believes it can do no right.

If the Rockies had given us a precedent for trusting their decisions, we would be more inclined to believe in this decision. Instead, I’m left to wonder why the Rockies couldn’t keep Dexter Fowler and sign Justin Morneau. I have a hard time believing the money’s not there. They are not breaking the bank for either player. Both should be possible.

Am I convinced Fowler is as valuable as his numbers? No. I believe the Rockies were iffy on Fowler’s motivation to play through injury. There are athletes who would rather sit out an extra day than risk aggravating an injury that could linger.

When Fowler was injured last season, that’s what I saw. It’s a smart business decision on his part. But it’s not always popular in the clubhouse. I learned down at spring training in Scottsdale that Fowler thought he would be traded last offseason. So this isn’t a surprise. It’s just a year later than expected.

So the Rockies cut ties with Fowler, apparently, to sign Morneau.

Again, why not do both?

Dedicated Rockies fans aren’t dumb. I know enough Rockies fans who had season tickets but don’t have those season tickets anymore to know that. Their reasoning: management is more committed to building a party deck than building a winning team.

If the Fowler trade works out and the Rockies are better for it, we will say so. No problem. Just give us a reason to say so.

But until management shows that it knows what it’s doing, and there’s a method to its madness, major decisions will look like bad decisions. They’ve earned it.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette