I wanted to wrap-up the grades (parts 1, 2, & 3) I've given the Rapids front office over the past few weeks, and also add a bit about the front office's ability and desire to take care of their fans. I graded the Hinchey/Bravo/Pareja trifecta on acquisitions and players who were let go since last season's end. Overall the grades were these:
Players Let Go: B+ (average for 11 players gone)
This was before the team traded Pablo Mastroeni. I'm still not sure what grade that would get. From an on-field perspective, the play of the Rapids' midfield before and since the trade suggests losing Pablo will not be significant. From the off-field perspective, it's hard to say what losing part of the team's identity to a rival will mean long term, or what his leadership could have brought the team. Call this one an incomplete.
Player Acquisitions: B+ (average for 10 players brought in)
The conclusion is that:
a) I'm an easy grader.
b) the Rapids FO did a well above-average job this past offseason of bringing in quality players who have more than matched the talent they replaced.
I'm sure it's both. The highlights are bringing in Clint Irwin and Nathan Sturgis, and drafting Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown. And these grades don't include the significant acquisitions of Hendry Thomas and Chris Klute, who came in late last year.
More than just personnel decisions, the Rapids' front office seems to have done well with last year's selection of a new coach. Oscar Pareja has shown himself to be a very good motivator and tactician, who is willing to learn and grow while adapting to his team.
Treatment of Fans:
And lastly, it seems relevant to grade the front office on the team's relationship with fans and fan groups. Since I live in Connecticut, I can't give a fair grade. What I can do is offer some perspective. A few years ago, after moving to New England, I missed going to games and decided I needed to get season tickets to someone, even the dreaded Revolution. After one season with a partial season ticket, I didn't renew because I found that I was rooting for every opposing team (seriously, how could anyone root for Joey Franchino and Rusty Pearce). I expected to root against New England when the Rapids came to town, but not when everyone else came too.
But in the process I had my eyes opened to how good the Rapids front office can be in terms of how it treats fans. In New England, we paid more for tickets, and paid for parking. Once in the stadium, fans were only allowed to sit on one side of the stadium, presumably both to limit the club's cost (only paying for half the security and vendors) and to make the stadium appear full to television audiences. But it left us all staring at nothing but (30,000?) empty seats--not ideal for fan atmosphere, nor, I would think, for player motivation.
But what was striking was the way they treated me as a season ticket holder, as if I were lucky just to have the honor of attending their games. In Colorado, (in my experience and from what I've heard since I left the area) if a season ticket holder misses a game, s/he has always been able to trade in that unused (i.e. otherwise wasted) ticket for an additional ticket to a later game, no questions asked. Who does this?!? Well, not the New England Revolution. Not even close. In April of that season, after I had picked my games for the year, my schedule changed and I tried to change some June tickets for a later game. Even with two months' notice, the Revs front office said no. I just had to eat the ticket. On top of that, they moved my seat consistently, took forever to get back to me, and best of all, they never asked me to renew. Not by phone, email, or mail. I just never heard from them. At least historically, that's not how the Rapids front office does things. Granted, it's a small comparison sample and only part of the fan relations picture, but it's another plus for the Rapids front office.
So, the overall grade I would give the Rapids' front office for this year is a solid A.