Any fool can say: I’m sorry. But admitting a whopper of a mistake is not always so easy, especially when the cost of the error is nearly $41 million.
The Rockies did the right thing Wednesday by sending troubled Jose Reyes packing. Maybe he can play shortstop somewhere in the major leagues. But not here, not with this team, not in a city where Reyes was suspended 51 games for violation of baseball’s new domestic violence policy and was forever doomed to be cursed for not being Troy Tulowitzki.
Reyes has been designated for assignment, which means he will be gone by trade or release within 10 days. By making the move, Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich did right by his baseball team, removing any doubt that sensational rookie Trevor Story is rock solid as a starter in the middle of the infield. The franchise did right by battered women by showing zero tolerance for physical abuse.
But as the sun and 40,093 spectators came out Wednesday to watch the Rockies defeat the New York Yankees 6-3 at Coors Field, the fan with the most expensive seat in the house was franchise owner Dick Monfort, who watched from the first row behind the Colorado dugout. On this summer day, when the team severed ties with Reyes, the cost of being Monfort was huge.
For Monfort, the price of doing the right thing was a tad under $41 million. The Rockies still owe big money to Reyes, who will never turn another double play or smash a double to the wall in a Colorado uniform. While there’s a slim chance Bridich can find a trade partner for Reyes, the distressed nature of any deal now would force the Rockies to eat nearly all of his salary, and if they cut him, all that cash will be flushed down the toilet in an ugly green swirl.
So for all the grief Monfort gets for being slow to reach for his wallet to build a winner in LoDo, he deserves a standing ovation for putting principle ahead of money when dealing with this crisis. “He was part of making a decision that was not just financial. We’re approaching $40 million (in sunk costs), and none of us here will ever know what it’s like to walk away from that,” Bridich told me, as we sat on the same bench where Colorado players exchange fist bumps after a home run.
The Rockies done good here, but if you’re looking for the moral of this story, then please forgive me, but it’s going to take more than a 140-character Twitter blast that begins with: Good riddance, Reyes. The decision against keeping him in a Colorado uniform as an expensive utility infielder was months in the making and rather than one simple reason, the Rockies considered a little bit of everything. There was a sense of justice in saying goodbye to Reyes. But it was also a move that made baseball sense.
“If you want to say it’s out of respect for the violence against women issue that we find ourselves facing, that’s great,” Bridich said. “If you want to say this decision is a nod to Trevor Story and the rest of our infielders who have also played very well, that’s also true, and it’s fair.”
We like to put our games in pretty little boxes, shut the lid and believe the difference between our heroes and villains, our worthy role models and our despicable sports creeps is as clearly black and white as the score posted on the board, where all the numbers are final and official.
But what I hope for Reyes is nothing but the best. If his wife has forgiven Reyes, after refusing to cooperate with the prosecution, instead trying to salvage their marriage, then I am going to root for this man and woman rather than throw stones. Compassion is not weakness. You will be disappointed coming around here in the hope of finding eye-for-an-eye rage.
“Look, there’s no feeling in this organization that human beings are perfect, or that Rockies baseball players or front-office members or staffers are somehow expected to be perfect human-beings. We are fallible. We make small mistakes. We make huge mistakes,” Bridich said. “Was this a huge mistake by Jose Reyes and his family? It absolutely was a huge mistake.
“Would we be sitting here talking about this if the domestic violence thing hadn’t happened in Hawaii? We wouldn’t. So it’s obviously part of the overall decision. It has to be.”
Yes, I recognize and applaud the tireless efforts of crusaders to end domestic violence. Bridich, however, made an admission in the wake of saying goodbye to Reyes that gave me reason to think. Colorado acquired a veteran shortstop past his prime in a controversial trade last summer that ripped the heart and soul out of the Rockies by sending Tulowitzki to Toronto. Reyes played only 47 games for the Rockies, and hit .259 while revealing limited range on ground balls, before he turned his family’s world upside down with a dispute at a hotel in Maui on Halloween.
“We didn’t have the time to get to know Jose Reyes very well,” Bridich said. “Truth be told, are either you or I in any position to judge what kind of man Reyes really is? Our opinions are more likely shaped by personal agendas felt deep in the heart than personal knowledge of the facts.”
On the eve of his official departure, when Colorado players were told he would no longer be part of the team, Reyes wrote what amounted to a farewell on social media: “Good things come to those who believe, better things come to those who are patient, and the best things come to those who don’t give up.”
The right move for Story, the right move for establishing a winning culture in the clubhouse and the right move for the city of Denver was for Reyes to move on.
The Rockies did over $40 million of the right thing. Thank Monfort. What he did was no small thing.