DENVER - To the surprise of absolutely nobody who is paying attention, the Colorado Rockies were awarded with two Gold Gloves on Sunday at third and second base.
Nolan Arenado took home his historic sixth in a row, passing Larry Walker (5) for the most in franchise history. DJ LeMahieu received the honor for the third time, tying him with franchise legend Todd Helton.
The future of both players is of the utmost intrigue to Rockies fans and it looks likely that the very near future will see a Colorado club that takes the field without at least one of them.
But the recognition of their defensive prowess is yet another reminder that, despite the universally recognized fact that the Rockies must improve their offense, this is a team with a clearly defined identity that would do well to make sure that they stay true to the formula that brought them their first-ever back-to-back postseason appearances.
It's all about run prevention.
If the (again likely) search to replace LeMahieu, either at second base or through an amalgamation of players at various positions, Jeff Bridich and his team are going to place a high value on defense.
This could mean that it ends up being a deciding factor between Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers in a hotly anticipated spring training battle. Or it could mean looking into a glove-first bargain option with a light bat, like Freddy Galvis.
The latter move would be unlikely to please fans but might be wise as an insurance policy for the young and still unproven prospects.
But in the pursuit of a better offense, can the Rockies really afford to sacrifice on the other side of the ball? This franchise has boasted some fantastic lineups throughout their history but that has never been enough to get them to the dance.
This same principle cross applies to any potential area of improvement. As much as it may frustrate some, Colorado will not move on from their defensive-minded catchers for a big bat unless they believe that big bat can also be a plus value behind the dish.
With pitchers like Kyle Freeland readily admitting to pitching to their exceptional defense, it would seem wise not to gamble on players like Brian Dozier or Daniel Murphy, as enticing as their bats at Coors Field might be.
Building a team identity can be difficult in any professional sport. And then, once you have, it can be even more complicated to find the balance between addressing your weaknesses and maintaining your strengths.
The key to Colorado taking the next step, and making themselves legitimate contenders for the World Series, is to find that balance whereby they can fortify the run-prevention game while finding ways for the offense to take absolutely necessary steps forward.
In my estimation, if it comes down to one or the other, the former ought to take precedence.
If nothing else, the Rockies have just proven that they can win 91 games without much of an offense and making marginal gains there should at least keep them in the hunt.
Meanwhile, any move to upgrade the lineup that also detracts from the defense would end up a lateral move at best unless the hitter acquired was truly of the superstar level. Those are few and far between, tend to be remarkably expensive, and are always one injury away from being a sunk cost.
The most intriguing free agent in that grouping would be a converted-to-first Josh Donaldson.
But barring an unforeseen dramatic increase in the budget (expect a mild one) the Rockies are likely to stick to the ideology that brought them to this moment in time.
With the possible exception of getting a big deal done for Arenado (at some point... maybe) expect them to spread out the value and prioritize defense and versatility this offseason.