Weekend Mailbag

Just like the Walkers…I’m baaaaack! Great questions continue to pour in. Want to get involved? You know where you can find me.

Jordan from Santa Monica, Calif. writes: Which prospect do you think the Rockies should’ve grabbed in the MLB Draft this weekend but didn’t?

Cody Voga: There will certainly be plenty of great talents that come out of the draft and won’t be in Colorado, Jordan. One player I wish the Rockies would have picked is actually from around your area. Aaron Brown is a pitcher and center fielder from Pepperdine University who is an all-around player that could have helped Colorado in many areas.

The 6-foot-1 southpaw was the Player of the Year in the West Coast Conference, hitting .306 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI. He is currently 13-1 with a 1.95 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 115.2 innings. I say currently because the Waves are in the Super Regionals and are playing for a chance to make it to the College World Series on Monday.

Brown was picked No. 81 overall by the Phillies and has a chance to make it to the majors as fast as anybody in this class given his array of talents.

Bryce from Des Moines, Iowa writes: Now that we have had time to digest Eddie Butler’s debut, what do you make of it?

Cody Voga: There are certainly two ways to look at it, Bryce. Positives are always good, so we will stick with that.

Butler was thrown to the wolves by manager Walt Weiss – and I think that was a good decision. Butler won’t face a better lineup this season than that of the Dodgers. He did record two strikeouts on Yasiel Puig, making the Cuban look foolish on both of them.

Eddie Butler didn't have the best debut, but showed glimpses of why the Rockies called him up. (Denver Post)

Eddie Butler didn’t have the best debut, but showed glimpses of why the Rockies called him up. (Denver Post)

Despite picking up the loss, Butler didn’t shy away from Los Angeles hitters as he pounded the strike zone all night. 61 percent of his pitches were in the zone, showing he had no fear of the competitors. We also saw the full arsenal of Butler’s repertoire. He mixed in his slider, curveball and changeup very well with his fastball. He also showed that he is unafraid to throw any pitch during any count.

Do you think Franklin Morales would have done any better? As his numbers show, I would highly doubt it. It was good to toe the rubber in Denver for the first time for Butler. Only better starts are on the horizon.

Martin from Colorado Springs, Colo. writes: With a plethora of outfielders, do you see a trade in the future for the Rockies? How about for a left-handed reliever?

Cody Voga: You and I think very similarly, Martin. I recently posted a scenario in which the Rockies would be trade partners with the Red Sox.

I can see a trade happening with the Red Sox because they have a drastic need in the outfield. Shane Victorino has been the best outfielder all season, and he is just hitting .242. Jackie Bradley Jr. has done well defensively in center and has shown some of the potential that Boston has been banking on. The other outfield spot is certainly up for grabs.

Shane Victorino has been the best outfielder in Boston, though he has lower numbers than all the Rockies outfielders. (Creative Commons)

Shane Victorino has been the best outfielder in Boston, though he has lower numbers than all the Rockies outfielders. (Creative Commons)

As much as it would pain me to see Brandon Barnes or Drew Stubbs go, either of those two could pull Andrew Miller to the Rockies. Miller would give the Rockies a solid southpaw that they have been lacking this whole year. Miller’s 2.81 ERA would rank first among Rockies left-handers if he were to land in Denver.

The next trade will show just how committed to winning the Rockies organization is.


Rox Linx

The streak is over! Time to celebrate! Well, not this hard.

Rockies Rumblings

The Colorado Rockies are currently two games out of a Wild Card spot, despite being 28-30. They are in the midst of their worst stretch of the season, losing 10 of their last 12 games. With Colorado being in an awkward position (are they contenders or pretenders?), there have been some rumblings around the organization whether to try to improve the roster via trade or blow the whole thing up and rebuild. Considering how the roster is structured, it would be easy to see both points of the argument.

On one hand, the Rockies could break the backs of their fans by trading Carlos Gonzalez. It’s tough to see him in another uniform, especially with his buddy Troy Tulowitzki still holding it down for Colorado. I don’t envision this happening because Gonzalez, 28, is in the prime of his career. Sure, Corey Dickerson, Brandon Barnes and Drew Stubbs are off to great starts this season. Sure, “CarGo” seems to find himself on the DL more and more. But, at any point, who is more feared by opposing pitchers? CarGo. Who is more clutch and can be counted on when it matters most? CarGo. Dickerson, Barnes and Stubbs will get their plate appearances, but they shouldn’t expect to be starting for Colorado anytime soon.

Despite rumors from MLB's Ken Rosenthal, Carlos Gonzalez should finish his career with the Rockies. (North Platte Post)

Despite rumors from MLB’s Ken Rosenthal, Carlos Gonzalez should finish his career with the Rockies. (North Platte Post)

The haul for CarGo would be juicy. However, with most of them being prospects, how does anybody know they would be able to contribute even half of what CarGo has? I’m squashing this rumbling like a bug.

On the other hand, Colorado could risk its future for the now. Trading for a solid arm, such as Jeff Samardzjia, has been a topic that seems to be lurking in the shadows. Samardzija would have to sign long-term for this to even be considered by the Rockies. The Cubs would be asking for a high price that could include any of Eddie Butler, Jon Gray or Tyler Matzek. The recent call-up of Butler complicates matters because if he does well, Colorado will be hanging on to him for the long haul. If he struggles, he won’t have as much value to the Cubs, thus cancelling this trade.

Jon Gray is the most coveted prospect in the Rockies farm system. Giving him up for anything short of an ace in their prime seems unlikely as he oozes potential to be the cornerstone of the franchise in years to come. Tyler Matzek might not be seen in the same light as Butler or Gray by other organizations. Matzek has had a rough time in Triple-A, showing that he might not be the answer that other clubs are looking for. Like the CarGo trade, this rumbling can be smashed.

A more realistic approach would be to improve the roster by trading proven players for proven players that help out both teams. The final rumbling is a trade involving the Red Sox. Though there are no specifics given, both the Rockies and Red Sox seem to be terrific trade partners.

The Rockies need help with left-handed bullpen relief. Current southpaws in the bullpen, Rex Brothers and Boone Logan, have ERAs of 5.47 and 5.87, respectively. The Red Sox have two solid, proven veterans in their ‘pen that can help this issue.

Andrew Miller is a lefty who owns an ERA of 2.55, which is impressive considering he pitches in a toughest division in baseball – the AL East. Hitters are only batting .196 and left-handed hitters have collected a total of seven hits against Miller.

Andrew Miller can help the Rockies bullpen with his experience and ability to get left-handed hitters out. (Creative Commons)

Andrew Miller can help the Rockies bullpen with his experience and ability to get left-handed hitters out. (Creative Commons)

The Red Sox need outfield help just as badly as the Rockies need a southpaw reliever. The best outfielder for Boston, Shane Victorino, is hitting .242 with only 10 RBI. The worst-hitting outfielder, CarGo, is hitting .255 but has the potential to be a MVP candidate when healthy.

Meanwhile, every Rockies outfielder has an OPS of at least .730. The best OPS number for the Red Sox comes from Jonny Gomes – .713.

I can see a deal of Barnes or Stubbs for Miller happening. Both teams have dire needs and both can be filled without giving up players with high potential or large contracts. I’ll let this rumbling stick around for a bit.

The Rockies can improve their organization without breaking the backs of their fans or the structure of their farm system. All they have to do is find the right trade partner.



Michael Cuddyer should not be in Denver on Aug. 1

Though the July 31 trade deadline is 74 days away, it is never too early to talk about improving the squad.

I firmly believe that if the Rockies want to remain a contender, trading Michael Cuddyer is their best option.

The 2013 National League batting champion set career-highs in batting average (.331), on-base percentage (.389) slugging percentage (.530) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.919) last year.

With those kind of numbers, why should the Rockies move him?

After winning the NL batting title, Cuddyer might be looking for a new home on July 31. (Creative Commons)

After winning the NL batting title, Cuddyer might be looking for a new home on July 31. (Creative Commons)

There are a few reasons, but the main argument is the glut of outfielders that the Rockies have.

Charlie Blackmon has emerged as one of the top leadoff men in baseball, ranking in the top-20 for batting average (.333), home runs (9), RBI (30) and on-base percentage (.364). He has also shown his versatility, starting in all three outfield spots this season. Blackmon has put an emphasis on defense, having only committed two errors with a .974 fielding percentage.

Corey Dickerson is in his second season with the club and has shown that he is here to stay. The lefty has pieced together an impressive start to the 2014 season, owning a .344 batting average, four roundtrippers and 11 RBI in just 26 games. Dickerson has yet to commit an error in 114 chances in the huge outfield of Coors Field.

Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes have been nice options off the bench for manager Walt Weiss this year, after both being acquired in the offseason. Stubbs is having a career year at the dish, hitting .326, slugging .500 and getting on base 36.2 percent of the time. He is also a certifiable thief, having swiped over 130 bases during his six-year career. Barnes has been a great two-way player for the Rockies this year, hitting a career-high .325 and starting in every outfield position with only one error.

Finally, Carlos Gonzalez is, well, Carlos Gonzalez. One of the few five-tool players in the league, “CarGo” has gotten off to a slow start in 2014, hitting .270, slugging .485 and getting on base 31 percent of the time. You would have to go back to his rookie year in 2008 with the Oakland A’s to find numbers that low. Since joining the Rockies, he has won a batting title (2010), three Gold Gloves (2010, 2012, 2013), made two All-Star Game appearances (2012, 2013) and has proven to be the second-best asset (Troy Tulowitzki) on this team.

With these five outfielders, and the solid play of Justin Morneau, there seems to be a surplus of talent in Denver at all four spots where Cuddyer can play.

The next set of reasons would be Cuddyer’s contract and age. The 35-year-old outfielder is in the final year of his contract and is set to make $10.5 million off of a three-year, $31.5 million he signed back in 2012. Cuddyer is on the downhill run of his prime, but can net a substantial return if dealt to a contender in need of a bat.

The Atlanta Braves are currently in a tie for the NL East crown at 22-19 and are ranked near the bottom in the major batting categories. They sit in 25th in slugging percentage (.368), 28th in batting average (.231), 29th in on-base percentage (.289) and 30th in runs (129). Though they have lost pitchers Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlan to Tommy John surgeries, they still have six quality starters battling for only five spots. Gavin Floyd, Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Alex Wood all have at least two quality starts (6 IP, 3 ER or less) and ERAs below 4.25 this season.

Of that list above, Ervin Santana seems to be the best fit for what Colorado needs – a top of the rotation, shutdown pitcher. Santana is 4-1 on the season with 46 strikeouts, an ERA of 2.76 and a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 1.14. Santana makes the most sense to trade for Cuddyer because of his abilities and contract situation.

Santana signed a one-year, $14.1 million deal with the Braves earlier in the offseason. Adding another prospect or two with Cuddyer’s $10.5 million can balance out the salaries and needs for both teams. Plus, if both Santana and Cuddyer do not prove worthy of another deal, their contract is up at the end of the season and both teams would lose nothing.

The Braves should be all over this deal as they need to find a way to keep B.J. Upton out of the lineup.

When July 31 comes rolling around, I wouldn’t expect Cuddyer to stay in Denver – and neither should he.

Rox Linx

TGIF, am I right? Just get through today and then enjoy some Rockies baseball!