They were dueling Zoom calls, scheduled simultaneously Tuesday, and while one was inquisitive, the other was an inquisition.
Owner Dick Monfort was on the Colorado Rockies’ call being asked whether he should sell the team, (“You would like that,’’ he snapped) or at least fire their general manager (“No, but I have thought about firing myself.’’)
St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt was being lauded for his commitment to winning on his Zoom (“We have an obligation to bring [fans] the best team possible and the best players possible.’’)
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich was being questioned whether the Nolan Arenado trade was a byproduct of organizational failure (“If you’re looking to pass blame, you can blame me.’’)
Cardinals president John Mozeliak, with Arenado’s jersey hanging behind him in his office, was talking about how their winning culture has players throughout the game wanting to play in St. Louis.
There were no laughs, zero smiles and an abundance of misery in the Rockies’ Zoom.
The Cardinals’ was filled with joy and promise.
Man, what a difference a player makes.
The Cardinals spent the morning talking about their World Series dreams with the acquisition of Arenado, while the Rockies spent theirs answering questions on why anyone would ever want to play in Colorado after watching a superstar plead to be traded.
The Rockies blamed Arenado for wanting out just nine months after signing his franchise-record contact, saying he’s the one responsible for the breakup.
“If we had our druthers,’’ Monfort said, “we would have Nolan Arenado. It was Nolan’s choice. He wanted to move on. That fact remains he felt like it was time to try something else out.’’
The Rockies traded Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals. (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)
Arenado, whose relationship with Bridich deteriorated to a point where they didn’t speak, refused to blame anyone, saying there are no hard feelings or regrets.
“I think when you have a contract like mine, and you’re losing,’’ Arenado said, “usually a lot of these contracts get moved. That’s kind of kind of what happened now. I signed there to be there for a long time. I wanted to win there, it didn’t work out, so you move on. …
“I am going to miss my teammates. They are my brothers. My intent was to be there. But things change.’’
Well, except in this case, it was Arenado that forced the decision. He signed his contract just four months after the Rockies won the 2018 NL wild-card game, a second consecutive postseason appearance.
He was promised the Rockies would continue to build, surround him with more free-agent acquisitions, and be a threat to the Dodgers. Instead, they instead finished 52 games behind the Dodgers the last two years, and when he voiced his complaints, he was criticized by Bridich, leading to their fallout.
“The relationship wasn’t always peaches and cream,’’ Bridich said. “There were some bumps here and there, relationships change over time. …There are relationships that last forever, but we are in a business where relationships don’t last forever. Commitments don’t last forever. In this case, Nolan’s desire was to move. We tried to honor that."
“If you’re looking to pass out blame, you can blame me.’’
Well, in Denver that will be quite easy considering the money they have blown on free agents in recent years, the brutal decision to let second baseman D.J. LeMahieu walk away and finally, this trade that has Rockies fans burning with rage.
“I’m a fan, I truly am,’’ Monfort said, “so I understand how they feel. To be quite honest, I’d probably feel the same way.’’
The Rockies actually tried to trade Arenado a year ago, but there was minimal interest with his massive contract. They were determined to do it this time, believing that he would trigger his opt-out clause after the season, risking the remaining $164 million on his contract. So even though they only received a back-end starter in Austin Gomber, four marginal prospects, and even kicked in about $50 million, they thought it was better than receiving only a draft pick in compensation once he departed.
“We tried to get the greatest return possible,’’ Monfort said. “Many teams we talked to deals made no sense. There were times in the last two weeks I didn’t think the St. Louis trade made sense.’’
Really, it still doesn’t.
And for the Cardinals, who even gave Arenado another opt-out clause after the 2022 season, they're quite happy things worked out this way.
“I plan on sticking around,’’ said Arenado, who’s in Scottsdale, Ariz., playing in the Pro-Am of the Phoenix Open. “I plan on staying here a long time. …
“I know they care about winning, and I believe they’ll do everything to win.’’
That's a sentiment he once had about the Rockies – but considering the Cardinals' track record, he won't be fooled again.
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