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Bud Black shows growing faith in young position players

Drew Creasman Avatar
December 12, 2018

Las Vegas – The debate surrounding the Colorado Rockies and their perceived lack of willingness to put faith in their young core has always been an odd one.

The club gave Trevor Story a starting gig at a premium position on the first day of 2016 and haven’t looked back since. They have stacked their entire starting rotation with homegrown products and were just carried into the postseason by a crew of second-and-third-year players.

Even this last season, after having missed all of 2017 with injury problems that could easily begin to feel permanent, David Dahl was given multiple opportunities to win a starting job. And he did it twice, entering the final month and postseason as a clear-cut starter.

All that noted, it would be fair to argue that each of those individual cases involved circumstances out of the Rockies control which forced them to try out the younger player. And I would be remiss to not mention that, despite plenty of explanations about why it was handled as such, the biggest argument comes from a crowd that desperately wanted to see Ryan McMahon take playing time away from Ian Desmond.

With this thought still fresh in the minds of many Rockies fans, there is a lingering doubt about whether or not Colorado can hand the proverbial reigns of the team to the next generation.

With DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez, and Gerardo Parra all unlikely to return (though at least one still could) now seems the most obvious time to make a transition.

If you are hesitant to believe that the Rockies might actually go in this direction, it’s worth hearing what Bud Black had to say on the second day of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

“I think that the roster will look different than how it ended,” he said in recognition of the vets on the way out and potential additions during free agency or via trade. “I think that’s just how the nature of going from one year to the next is, based on where players are in their careers, where contracts are.”

But when it comes to the young guys already on the roster, Black sees a bright near future.

“So definitely I think we have — I wouldn’t call it a wave,” he said. “But we have some new players coming on the horizon that should be a bigger part of our roster construction. And you saw a lot of those guys last year. David Dahl coming back from a couple of years of being a little banged up, hopefully, will be at full strength and give us a full season in the Big Leagues. Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, those two fellows. Position player side comes to the forefront of maybe having an impact. Pat Valaika bouncing back from a year that was a little bit up and down for him. Tapia, I think, will be in the mix.”

Perhaps notably missing from that list is top prospect Brendan Rodgers as Black is less inclined to discuss players who have not yet debuted in MLB. In fact, he sees what experience those players do have as a massive benefit moving forward.

“These guys have been in the Big Leagues. They’ve shown at times a Major League performance that could indicate that better performance is on the way. So that’s what we’re looking at from those fellows.”

The ever insistent passage of time can change anything. Whether or not the Rockies were ever truly a team that philosophically gave veterans every single second chance while making rookies fight and claw for playing time becomes irrelevant for the conversation now.

The far more important question is have they seen enough of Dahl, McMahon, Hamspon, Tapia, and soon Rodgers to trust that they can carry a heavy load in 2019? They have another years worth of information on them and have made it clear that next season is going to have a different look and feel.

The writing has been on the wall for some time, and whether or not the youth revolution came soon enough for everyone, it appears it is finally here.

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