Keeler: Embrace Nolan Arenado. Embrace weird. Embrace asterisks. 2020 Rockies season is gift horse you don’t look in the mouth.

Look on the bright side. Thanks to Mookie Betts, it is now $ 365 million less than the Dodgers in toy money have to pop, like a pirate chest, at the feet of Nolan Arenado.

Hey, it’s opening day. Tried. More than 60 games, those straws that you hold, can somehow be enough to keep things going.

On the one hand, we are very happy. Excited that the Rockies are even here, bravely floating the boat in the swell and mist. In the era of COVID-19, we have learned to wake up every day to the threat of rainfall, committing to storm clouds that you never see coming. Until it’s too late.

We are thankful because if we have learned anything from 2020 it is that when it comes to positives, you take what you can get, when you can get it.

Come here, you cool horse. Big hug.

Embrace Nolan.

Embrace the stars.

Embrace the masks.

Embrace the weird.

Because none of us know how long it will stick around.

On the other hand, we are on the alert. Be wary because fate, or a sneeze, could conspire to pull the curtain of this production down at any time.

Wary because the 2020 Rockies, on paper, remain largely the way we left them in March: flawed, dysfunctional, top-heavy in talent and a nonsense shoot after the seventh inning.

Whether it’s Kyle Freeland around 2018? The Rockies, not the Padres, will be the NL West surprise that the Dodgers will keep on chasing.

Kyle Freeland 2019? Protect your eyes.

Wade Davis 2018? Let’s look at a pennant race!

Wade Davis 2019? Let’s watch election commercials!

Conventional wisdom says the Rox goes so far that the top three guys in the rotation and the three guys in the back of the bullpen can get them. The same as ever.

On the other hand, there is nothing conventional at the moment. Or about what we dive into.

Remember when Arenado vs. Bridich did headlines have to dominate? When Nolan to Jeff was the most emotional topic of 2020?

Those were the days, my friend.

We don’t know how deep the ax is buried. We know the world is bigger, a lot of bigger, problems now.

Here’s to roll out the red carpet. And throw the dice.

Ten weeks. A universal DH. Extra innings starting with a runner in second place. Closed gates in LoDo. Cardboard placeholders where hearts should be.

Embrace Nolan.

Embrace the stars.

Embrace the masks.

Embrace the weird.

Because manager Bud Black plays with house money in year 4. According to BetMGM, only the Miami Marlins are more likely to win a National League pennant than the 2020 Rockies. Those same bookmakers put the over-under on Colorado wins at 26.5, or the equivalent of 71.5 wins on 162 games.

We don’t do Full Monfort, but we meet him half way. This selection isn’t bad for 20 games under .500. When everyone is healthy / available / present, the floor is high enough to prevent a repeat of the capitulation tour last August.

It is the ceiling that gives you a break. The ceiling and depth. Shedding inflated bullpen salaries is noble, but it’s no good not putting complementary pieces around franchise tent poles like Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, and German Marquez while you have them. You don’t produce four All-Stars in a season and lose 90 games or more unless the supporting cast is a trash can.

With about a third of the usual rope to play with, and if Black manages this sprint like it’s a marathon, he’ll eat the dust from everyone else.

“You may have to make some tough decisions (based on) performance, because you can’t wait for guys to potentially come out of a hitting slump or out of a pitching slump,” the Rockies manager admitted earlier this month. “You don’t have the luxury of six months for a man to get out … you really need to know your players, really know how they play and how they handle it. And then maybe some tough decisions need to be made personally.”

There is simply no time in 2020. No time for egos, no time for compassion, no time for favorites, no time for confidence. With such a short schedule, with a pandemic acting as a wild card in everyone’s stack, every line-up card is precious. Every day too.

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