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.

 

 

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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.

Prospect checkup

The Doc is in – and he is ready to give you a prognosis about the futures of three players in the Rockies farm system. You may not have heard of this trio of prospects, but they are all ranked in the top-15 in Colorado’s farm system and have a chance to make a big splash at the next level. Without further ado…

David Dahl (No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America)

The 10th pick in the 2012 draft has garnered some attention by scouts in and around the Rockies organization. Dahl was the 2012 Pioneer League MVP and quickly began drawing comparisons to Mike Trout. All the tools are there for Dahl to take the next step in his game. He ran a 6.49 60-yard dash and has accumulated 24 stolen bases, thus far. Dahl has a .335 career batting average to go along with 17 home runs and 88 RBI in Single-A. The Rockies prospect has an arm that makes Steve Finley jealous.

Altogether, Dahl has what it takes to get to the majors. We are probably looking at a 2- to 3-year window in which this could happen, as the Rockies don’t like to rush players to the big leagues.

Tom Murphy (No. 7)

Another prospect from the 2012 draft, Murphy was selected in the third round by Colorado. The former Buffalo standout has flexed his muscles at the plate, smacking 33 home runs in his tenure in the farm system. He has also shown a willingness to drive runners in, picking up 136 RBI by virtue of a hit, sacrifice or fielder’s choice. Murphy needs to improve at blocking balls in the dirt and framing pitches if he wants to make it to Denver.

With the Rockies having the same mindset with Wilin Rosario as the Twins did with Joe Mauer, Rosario may move to first base in the coming years, leaving room for Murphy to come and make his mark. This move will not happen as long as Justin Morneau is manning the bag, so I would see Murphy’s call to be delayed at least two years.

Tyler Matzek (No. 12)

Since being picked in the 2009 draft, all Matzek has done is strike out batters and move up the ranks. The 23-year old southpaw has a career average of 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He has also improved his control, walking only 10 percent of the batters he faces in 2014. Matzek has what many managers want – a plus fastball and put-away breaking ball, all from the left arm.

Matzek continues to impress the scouts. In his last start, he went 7.2 innings, scattering four hits and even hitting a home run en route to his fifth win on the young season.

What was originally planned to be a call-up next season, the Rockies have begun to rethink the timeline on their prospect. I could easily see Matzek getting his chance this year if somebody from the rotation begins to slip. If the rotation remains intact, Matzek could see some work in the bullpen or will get a very good shot at making the Opening Day roster in 2015.

These prospects may not be in the news as much as Jon Gray or Eddie Butler, but all will certainly be given a chance in the coming seasons for the Rockies.