Rockies’ offseason requires barf bag

The temperatures have dropped and days are short. Warm-weather recreation, which I am constantly in search of, is at a bare minimum barring large withdrawals from the bank.

That’s why, when the Broncos aren’t playing, I become a big fan of the Hot Stove League, the hangout for desperate fans anxiously awaiting next year.

Being no fan of ice fishing and no longer able to do anything other than snowplow down a ski slope, I instead spend much of my time paying attention to the goings-on of Major League Baseball organizations.

And that’s exactly why, right now, I am ready to puke.

I love baseball from little leagues to the bigs.

Because it took so long to acquire a team to root for in Colorado, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to cheer for any team other than the Rockies.

And that’s exactly why, right now, I am ready to puke.

Roughly one week ago, the Rockies announced an agreement to sign pitcher Jeff Francis, a popular veteran who returned to the team last season after a brief hiatus with the Kansas City Royals. Francis went 6-7 last season with an ERA of 5.58. He is 31 years old and has a career record of 67-73. They signed him for $1.5 million for one season, and he can, if the gods are indeed crazy, earn as much as $3 million with bonuses.

That has been the Rockies’ big splash in free agency.

Roughly at the same time, the Los Angeles Dodgers reached an agreement with free agent pitcher Zack Greinke, a 29-year-old former Cy Young winner who won 15 games for the Brewers and Angels last season with an ERA of 3.48. Oh yes, they agreed to six years for $147 million.

And, that wasn’t all the Dodgers were up to.

They also paid more than $25 million to win the rights to negotiate with Korean left-handed pitching star Hyun-jin Ryu. That’s $25 mil just to talk to the guy.

On Sunday, they signed Ryu to a $36 million contract over six years.

The Dodgers, barring trades, more signings, etc., are going to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $225 million next season just on player payroll.

The Rockies, with Francis safely in the fold and possibly a minor trade or two to be made before the season opens (center fielder Dexter Fowler for some mediocre starting pitcher that will probably end up being in the Rockies favor financially), will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $85 to $90 million on payroll next season.

And that’s exactly why, right now, I am ready to puke.

In 1992, Dick and Charlie Monfort bought the Rockies for $95 million. According to Forbes Magazine, which knows its business, the Rockies were valued at $414 million as the 2010 season came to a close. Since it’s not a house on my block, you can assume the Rockies property is worth the same or a bit more today.

Unless my math is totally wrong, the Monforts have increased the value of their property by about $320 million.

That same Forbes study had the Rockies annual revenues at $188 million (that’s the money you and I and the TV and radio folks put in), and their operating expenses other than payroll at $16 million.

Folks, somebody is raking it in and not putting much of it back.

And that’s exactly why, right now, I am ready to puke.

On Monday, it was announced the Kansas City Royals, probably the most comparable team to the Rockies in terms of fan base, revenues and possibilities of winning, had made a trade.

They traded their best prospect, outfielder Wil Myers, and several other minor leaguers to the Tampa Rays for one very good starting pitcher, James Shields, another good young veteran pitcher in Wade Davis, whom the Rockies have reportedly coveted for at least two seasons, and the proverbial player to be named later.

The Royals now have a starting pitching rotation of Shields, former Rockie Jeremy Guthrie, who was outstanding after being shipped from Colorado, recently signed Ervin Santana, a free agent from the Angels, Bruce Chen and maybe Davis, if he is not deemed better in the bullpen.

Think the Rockies wouldn’t trade their starting rotation for KC’s in a second? You’d be right on.

At least the Royals are in motion.

The Rockies, as usual, are fiddling and burning while the rest of the baseball world moves on.

And you and I keep paying for it.

And that’s exactly why, right now, I am ready to puke.


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