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Colorado Rockies have a chance to redefine themselves in final months

David Martin Avatar
July 30, 2015

 

The Colorado Rockies lost 3-2 on Wednesday at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The reality is, no one cares.

It sounds flippant, but the day-in and day-out results really have very little effect on anything anymore in 2015. Essentially, the final results after game 162 will be that the Rockies didn’t win enough games and lost too many. How those actual numbers look really doesn’t matter. They will finish the season at or near last place in the National League West.

In the aftermath of the Troy Tulowitzki trade to the Toronto Blue Jays, things still feel like a whirlwind. There are still questions around who is going to stay and who is going to go. If the Rockies were willing to deal Tulowitzki, they probably are willing to deal nearly anyone. In the next few days, the Rockies could easily dismantle the remaining core of their team.

By the time the dust settles on the 2015 trade deadline, the Rockies could be without Carlos Gonzalez, Wilin Rosario (who has already been shipped back to Triple-A), John Axford, Charlie Blackmon, Drew Stubbs, Kyle Kendrick and really any other player that could possibly be mentioned in a trade discussion.

When everything settles down, however, the Rockies will have a chance to simply get back to baseball. Before anyone emerges as the new leader, the team will just have to start playing baseball. Eventually, the new leaders will start to take shape.

There will be new faces, maybe just a couple, or maybe several. There will also be familiar faces that made it through and didn’t have to call a moving company and find a new place to live in a new city. The combination of those factors will make one thing certain, there will be a brand new feeling in the Rockies clubhouse. The culture, simply because of the trade made, will shift.

By all public accounts, Tulowitzki was the leader in the clubhouse. He took control and many guys credited him with improving their work ethic and getting them to hone their craft. Both Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu credit Tulowitzki with their improvement.

However, anyone who has heard Tulo speak publicly, either to the media or at events like Rockies Fest knows one sure thing about the Rockies former leader. He is intense to a fault.

At Rockies Fest in January, a group of hitters were answering fan questions. One of those questions was which parks were the most difficult to hit in. Obviously Coors Field is an incredible hitter’s park, in part due to altitude, but in large part due to the amazing batter’s eye in center field beyond the fountains. After three or four players answered the question with a variety of different fields, such as Turner Field in Atlanta and Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia, it was Tulowitzki’s turn. He grabbed the microphone and said something along the lines of how bad of a question that was and that he wasn’t going to talk about that kind of stuff. The microphone went to LeMahieu, who immediately said that he wasn’t going to answer after what Tulo had just said.

There is a certain element of what Tulo did that can be considered good leadership. He insisted that the Rockies stay positive and don’t give into the excuses that were so prevalent for the club in year’s past. However, he also made the first few guys who answered the question look bad. They had answered the question, naming several reasons why certain places aren’t fun to hit. When Tulowitzki called out the question, it made the first few guys look like whiners.

That isn’t to say that Tulowitzki isn’t allowed to do things like that. He is the leader of the team. It is his job to squelch that type of talk. However, the way it was handled wasn’t ideal.

Baseball is so unique in that the team is literally living with each other for seven straight months. They play nearly every day, spend all of spring training together, fly all around the country together and spend more time hanging out in the clubhouse than any other professional sport. It might be easy to see that a guy like Tulowitzki, with as much intensity as he constantly brought, could add a ton of constant pressure to a young team that is looking to find their way in the big leagues.

That type of intensity can set the tone in a clubhouse. That can be a really good thing when a team needs to keep their attention. However, in mid-July, when a team is struggling, it can also be overbearing and start to wear on a guys who are giving it everything they have but haven’t been seeing the results of their labor.

This isn’t meant to rip on Tulowitzki. It is meant to say that without him in the clubhouse, it would be easy to envision that the culture of the team will shift. There is very little chance that the same level of intensity that Tulowitzki brought will also be brought by anyone else. He is such a unique player that there probably isn’t anyone who can replicate the intensity that Tulo brought.

There could be both positives and negatives that come from the fact that no one can replace the leadership style in the Rockies clubhouse. It could result in the team becoming more passive and not playing as hard, or it could result in the team being more loose on the field and feeling more comfortable around each other.

Either way, with Tulowitzki gone, the Rockies will have a new culture shortly. The combination of new faces, along with old ones will formulate who the new Rockies are and how they will carry themselves. Where that takes the Rockies remains to be seen, but something had to be done in order for the shift in culture. Whether or not trading Tulowitzki was the right move to shift that culture or not remains to be seen, but the culture of the Rockies will certainly be different soon.

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