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.

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Rox Linx

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

Rox Linx

After giving up 11 runs in the eighth and ninth innings against the Diamondbacks, I thought that was rock bottom. This guy would beg to differ. Only one more day until Eddie Butler’s start! Positivity!

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.

 

 

Rox Linx

It’s hard to be giddy after a 4-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, but with Eddie Butler being called up, Rockies fan have something to celebrate.

Sunday Mailbag

Throwing everybody a curveball on this Sunday afternoon. Having a mailbag on a Sunday might just be the new trend. As always, any inquiries can be sent to cody.j.voga@gmail.com or @BlakeSt_Bombers.

Dillon from Des Moines, Iowa writes: Rockies have the eighth pick of the MLB draft this season. Who do you think they will go with?

Cody Voga: The Rockies should be in prime position to pick up an excellent prospect at No. 8, Dillon. One guy I feel would help Colorado out in a big way would be Max Pentecost (C, Kennesaw State). With Wilin Rosario planning on moving to first in a couple of years, catcher will be a big need. Pentecost can fill that role as soon as the Rockies would need him.

Pentecost is hitting .424 with nine home runs and 57 RBI for the Owls, who are currently battling in the NCAA Regionals. The former seventh-round selection of the Texas Rangers would see an improved power surge if he plays his home games at Coors Field. Pentecost hits for average and does well behind the plate. The Rockies would hope he could turn into a defensive specialist, like Russell Martin.


Carl from Rome, Ga. writes: Will Colorado’s pitching staff ever figure it out? Or are we looking at some turnover come July?

Cody Voga: There’s a good chance we are going to see some changes soon, Carl. I believe calls to Tyler Matzek and Eddie Butler are imminent. Franklin Morales has proved once again why the Rockies ditched him a few years ago. It’s been five starts and we still don’t know if Jhoulys Chacin will get back to last year’s form. Those two, I would say, are in serious trouble to lose their jobs.

Franklin Morales could have made his last start in a Rockies uniform on Saturday. (Creative Commons)

Franklin Morales could have made his last start in a Rockies uniform on Saturday. (Creative Commons)

Matzek and Butler have been waiting in the wings for a couple of years now. Manager Walt Weiss has said that the only thing holding them back is Major League experience. How else do they get experience in the majors without pitching in the majors? That could be one subtle hint that the time will be coming.


Sadie from Osage Beach, Mo. writes: What’s the status on Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood? Can the Rockies get them back sooner than expected?

Cody Voga: If all things go as planned, Sadie, you might be seeing Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood pitch before the All-Star break.

Anderson is coming off of a surgery in which he had implanted pins removed from his left index finger. For him, it’s all about getting back into rhythm. Once he has gotten back into shape and can throw from a long distance, he will begin the rehab process. Gripping the baseball may be the biggest thing prolonging his comeback. With the index finger being an important tool in creating movement, it’s ideal to be 100 percent before pushing back into it.

Brett Anderson has begun the rehab process and is aiming for a return in early July. (Creative Commons)

Brett Anderson has begun the rehab process and is aiming for a return in early July. (Creative Commons)

Chatwood, who had a strained flexor tendon, has returned to playing catch at 75-plus feet. Building up stamina and getting back into the throwing program is what Chatwood needs to do before returning to Coors Field. I would anticipate a longer wait for Chatwood as he doesn’t want to have another flare-up in his elbow.

As nice as it would be to have them before the All-Star break, I think it would be best to sit these two until after July 15. If they are rushed back too early, they could be out for an extended period of time that could include the rest of the 2014 season.

Trade or Fade?

With the weather starting to heat up, that means summer is on the horizon and the trade deadline is fast approaching. That being said, it is time for the first installment of Trade or Fade? This segment will take a look at two possible candidates that the Rockies could trade for by the July 31 deadline. A case will be made for each player as well as what it would take to land them. It is up to you, the audience, to decide what the beloved Rockies should do. Let’s get right into it.

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija has performed well for the Cubs and will look to join a contending club for a postseason run. (Creative Commons)

Jeff Samardzija has performed well for the Cubs and will look to join a contending club for a postseason run. (Creative Commons)

The case: Jeff Samardzija has pitched like an ace all season long. His 1.68 ERA ranks second in the majors. Samardzija’s allowed 14 earned runs, which is the second-fewest among qualified pitchers in the MLB. His WAR of 2.7 places him in third amongst his competitors. He finally earned his first victory in Monday’s game versus the Giants, snapping a winless streak of 16 straight starts. Samardzija is 29 and is in the final two years of his contract.

The Rockies have been looking for a bonafide ace since offloading Ubaldo Jimenez in 2011. Samardzija has been a workhorse throughout his career, throwing 633 innings in his first seven seasons despite not being named a starter until 2012. He would certainly find a role in the rotation and could be a Game One starter in a playoff series.

What it will take: Jon Gray or Eddie Butler. This would break the backs of hardcore Rockies fans. With Samardzija’s stats, he would draw a top prospect and the Cubs would savor the opportunity to land Gray or Butler. Theo Epstein couldn’t get this deal done fast enough. The Cubs have been in full overhaul mode since Epstein took over in October of 2011.

Both Gray and Butler have shown that they are full of potential and will be ready whenever the call comes for them. Gray has 42 strikeouts in just nine starts and boasts a 2.79 ERA. Butler, meanwhile, has a 2.39 ERA and already thrown 64 innings. He has left 80 percent of runners on base.

It would also take assurance that Samardzija would re-sign after 2015, something that can’t be guaranteed given how much the Cubs hurler would demand.

Zach Britton

Zach Britton could be the left-handed reliever that the Rockies are missing. (Creative Commons)

Zach Britton could be the left-handed reliever that the Rockies are missing. (Creative Commons)

The case: Since being moved to the bullpen in the offseason, Zach Britton has been a shutdown pitcher for manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles. The southpaw is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.65 and three saves in 27 innings of work. His WHIP of 0.867 ranks first among left-handed relievers in the majors. Britton’s 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is also proof that he has the command necessary for the late innings.

Of the two left-handed relievers on the Rockies roster, Britton would be in a league of his own. Rex Brothers has blown four saves this season and has given up 10 runs in 22.1 innings. Boone Logan has given up seven runs in only 13.1 innings and opponents are hitting .250 against him.

What it will take: Kyle Parker or Rosell Herrera. Relief help typically wouldn’t cost much, but because he is a lefty specialist and is only 26, the price will be at a premium.

Kyle Parker is a former first-round selection back in 2010 and has manned the corner outfield spots in the minor leagues. His career batting average of .292 with 72 home runs and 271 RBI makes him a juicy prospect for the Orioles.

Rosell Herrera is the No. 3 prospect currently in the Rockies farm system. The infield utility man is a switch-hitter who can cause problems with his speed on the base paths as well as steal hits away from batters. He lead the Asheville Tourists (Single-A affiliate) with 21 stolen bases this past season.

Britton’s salary of $500,000 is certainly manageable considering all the quality innings he has put in. His low-money contract is up at the end of this season and he will be looking to cash in.

 

Video: Turn your phone off, Walt

Rockies manager Walt Weiss would be wise to keep his phone bill to a minimum when looking to fill that fifth spot in the rotation.

Franklin Morales is back down to earth after starting the season off so well. Morales has struggled in his last four outings, giving up at least four runs per start and has only thrown at least five innings only once. His next start against the Giants tonight (May 20) could be his last.

The upcoming schedule sets up nicely for a possible move to a four-man rotation of Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rose, Jordan Lyles and Juan Nicasio. After having an off day yesterday (May 19), the Rockies have two more coming soon on May 29 and June 2. These off-days come at crucial times in the rotation, allowing Weiss to consider dropping Morales out of the rotation and moving it to four, until Brett Anderson can return in mid-June.

Recent history has proven that it would benefit the Rockies a great deal to leave prospects such as Eddie Butler and Jon Gray down in the minors for as long as they can.

Since 2007, pitchers to be called up by the Rockies have been a very mixed bag, with most of them failures. Here is a look at who has been shot through the mountains and onto Coors Field:

2007 – Jason Hirsh, Franklin Morales
2008 – Greg Reynolds
2009 – Jhoulys Chacin, Esmil Rogers
2010 – Samuel Deduno, Greg Smith
2011 – Juan Nicasio
2012 – Tyler Chatwood, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White
2013 – Chad Bettis

Of that list provided, only five of those pitchers are still with the Rockies. Chacin is the one exception to this notion because he has proved to be a solid top-end, rotation guy, logging an ERA of 3.64 and starting 14 or more games in five of his first six seasons.

Chacin has been one of the few bright spots in recent Rockies call-ups. (Creative Commons)

Chacin has been one of the few bright spots in recent Rockies call-ups. (Creative Commons)

Chatwood and Nicasio have shown flashes of greatness, but remain question marks upon not only durability, but also consistency. Both right-handed hurlers have a career ERA over 4.30 and have made 15 or more starts only three times out of a possible eight seasons.

How do these pitchers compare to the dynamic duo that promises to be Butler and Gray?

Butler has shown that he is willing to adjust as he progresses through the minors. He started his first season playing rookie ball for the Casper Ghosts, finishing 7-1 with an ERA of 2.13 and 55 strikeouts. Since then, the former first-round pick has seen his strikeout totals go down, but the ERA has plateaued at 2.68 this season in Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers. He has left over 78 percent of the baserunners he has put on right where they stand. Sound like anybody you know? This guy has the Chacin makeup written all over him (hopefully minus the 2014 season we are witnessing from the Rockies ace).

Gray has me psyched, but cautious at the same time. I’m fully aware of the hype that surrounds the 2013 No. 3 overall pick. He has been the best player on his team, dating back to his days as an Oklahoma Sooner. I don’t know if there is a player on the current roster that can relate to the skill set that Gray has, as well as how he pitches the game. He has gone on record saying how badly he wants to contribute to the team this season, but that may not be the best option for the Rockies. He got off to a very slow start with the Drillers, going only 6.2 innings in his first two starts. I saw a guy trying to force the issue, wanting to make his big league debut so badly that he didn’t want to focus on improving his game. Since those two audacious starts in early April, Gray has calmed down and dominated the competition, giving up only five earned runs and striking out 32 in his last six starts.

Rockies prospect, Jon Gray, has the chance to develop into an elite pitcher in Colorado if he remains patient. (Creative Commons)

Rockies prospect Jon Gray has the chance to develop into an elite pitcher in Colorado if he remains patient. (Creative Commons)

If we get another pitcher like Chacin in Butler and if Gray can remain patient and hope for a chance in 2015, the Rockies may have struck gold. As it pertains to this season, filling out that fifth spot in the rotation will come once Chatwood and Anderson come back from their stints on the DL.

Until then, let’s hope Weiss leaves his farm system alone.