Wait till next year, and the year after ...
With strong foundation, these Rockies built for future success
DENVER -- What happened in the 2007 World Series was not particularly good, but for the Colorado Rockies this is much more likely a beginning rather than an end.
The current Rockies have been built the right way, the time-tested way, through astute scouting and diligent player development. If they weren't good enough in four nights against the Boston Red Sox, they should be good enough to give themselves a chance to return to this level for many seasons to come.
The Rockies staged one of the most remarkable late-season surges in the history of baseball, winning 10 in a row and 21-of-22. This took them from fourth place in the National League West, to the NL Wild Card berth, and then to sweeps in both the NL Division and Championship series.
What happened in the 2007 World Series does not erase that astounding performance. There is nothing that could take away either the tangible talent or the intangible character that was required to make that run.
What happened in the World Series merely indicated that Boston was, largely as expected, the best team in baseball. There wasn't much to be done with a team that combined superlative pitching with a relentless offense.
The opposing manager, Terry Francona, had words that were both gracious and accurate to describe the Rockies.
"We beat a very good team," Francona said. "I hope nobody forgets that because they gave us a battle to the end. I know when you look at 4-0 it may get lost. It won't on us. They're classy people and a classy organization."
There can be years of debate about the effects of the eight-day layoff the Rockies had between the end of the NLCS and the Series. It couldn't have helped. The Rockies were not at their best when the World Series began. But that did not change the outcome. Perhaps it made what would have been a Boston victory in five or six games into a sweep, but this was going to be a Red Sox October.
This was an obviously discouraging stretch for the Rockies, who went all the way from being unbeatable to being swept in a matter of days. But after the disappointment wears off, the long-term perspective will become apparent. That will look considerably brighter.
This is a Colorado team that does not have to be a one-hit wonder. Because of the way it is structured, around homegrown drafted players, and the signings of talented young Latin American players, it has youth, and thus time, on its side.
Rockies fans may have some opportunities to feel better well before the next season arrives. If justice is served, left fielder Matt Holliday will be named the NL MVP and shortstop Tory Tulowitzki will be the NL Rookie of the Year.
But the real payoff for fans of this franchise should be the success this team has in years to come. The young talent is here, in both quality and quantity. Nothing is guaranteed in this game, but this September and October, the Rockies displayed not only their ability to win right now, but their potential to be a force in years to come.
There are no gaping holes here. The Rockies set a record for team fielding percentage, so catching the ball is far from an issue. There is real talent in both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and if you say that the Rockies could use one more quality starter, well, that's a statement that you could make about roughly 27 clubs in contemporary baseball.
The Rockies' offense is, when in gear, both imposing and versatile. Yes, it was neutralized in this World Series, but that is the nature of October baseball; the team best able to dominate with its pitching so often triumphs. Boston had that kind of pitching from four consecutive starting pitchers and its closer, and there wasn't much the Rockies could do about it.
But the lesson here is not necessarily that the 2007 World Series was an unmitigated disaster for the Rockies. It wasn't good, it wasn't pretty, it wasn't a dream come true. But it wasn't the end of time, either.
The Colorado Rockies arrived this September. Their astounding finishing kick did not extend through the World Series. At this point in their development their fans could have hoped for more, but reasonable expectations had been exceeded some time ago.
The Rockies had not been down this road before. Maybe what happened in this World Series was painful, but maybe it was also a necessary part of the growth process for a club just entering its era of success.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.