As the Rox are now 12 games under .500 and the team is really in trouble for 2015. The future remains bright – and I really believe that. But in the interim…for the next 3 months, we need a reason to watch and that revolves around seeing guys who can be part of the 2016 team…and maybe finally compete.
Before you say we are not even close to the top players in the NL West, a few things to think about.
- The Dodgers – who have some great young talent, are likely to lose Greinke this off-season. Their rotation is weak after some guy at the top of the rotation. AGon will be another year older. And there are other issues with the Dodgers.
- The Giants are dangerous but they have issues as well…especially in the rotation after Baumi.
- The Padres emptied their farm system and the trades have not worked out great. Maybe they trade some off the guys at the trade deadline and get something back but…not as good. They made a huge bet…and it doesn’t look like there is a lot of good decisions.
- The Dbacks. Well, they are a lot like the Rockies. But aside from Goldschmidt and Tomas there is not a whole lot there that gets you excited.
So the Rox have a better chance in 2016 than they did in 2015. Heck, even I didn’t see this team as being more than a 78 win team. But…there are some good things coming.
We may well find Jon Gray up here in August. The team is being smart. Why waste the kid getting beat-up in the bigs if he still has some thing to learn at AAA. There is no reason to rush if the team isn’t going to compete.
Kyle Freeland has had shoulder issues but right now he is working his way to throwing in games again. Had the shoulder issue not come about its likely he would have gotten a big league looksee in September (given Bridich’s emphasis on moving prospects faster). Now it will take a hot Spring for him to be with the team on May 1 (the whole saving the year til FA). Will Tyler Anderson be healthier? Can Matzek figure it out (I think yes)? Butler find his groove? The team will continue to develop David Hale, may well keep around Chris Russin (a 5th starter at best) or maybe even John Lannen. In other words the rotation should be much better in 2016 than 2015. I assume Jorge De La Rosa will be with the team because they want to compete in 2016. They know fans are getting restless with another year gone.
Chances are we have an infield of Arenado, Tulo, DJ, and Paulsen. The catching will probably still be Hunley and McKenry but Murphy will be at AAA getting his final tune-up. Unless Murphy takes the huge step this year. When they bring him up they don’t want him sitting 5 days. Now they may decide to do a clean share so he can learn from Hunley beginning on day 1. In which case a 4-3,3-4 split. The outfield, assuming they can’t trade CarGo and get enough in return (without eating money – eating money makes no sense for this tea), will have Dickerson in left and CarGo in right.
So what about center? David Dahl is working hard to get back to AA, starting next week in Boise on a rehab stint from his spleen issue. I don’t think he starts in the bigs in 2016, but if AAA goes well in April and early May, then he will be at Coors before June 1. He’s a lefty so look for a right-handed platoon partner. May well be Stubbs, since the team isn’t likely to get any value in a trade for him this offseason. We may also see Kyle Parker as the 4th OF, 1B replacement partner.
All of which is my big lead to the Charlie Blackmon deal. As is usual, I thought about the topic but Rockies Zingers did the leg work:
The fact is now is the time to deal Blackmon. You have Dahl coming, also a lefty bat. Dahl has everything Blackmon has…except he’s younger and is a true 5-tool player. Plus Dahl has is a future Gold Glove candidate (if he can avoid running into team mates). Blackmon turns 30 on July 1 of next year. He isn’t a FA until 2019. A team will love a player like this who isn’t even going to be arbitration eligible until 2016. Now yes, he’s cheap to the team and could play RF if the team does trade CarGo, but that is the position you want to play Parker at if you decide he is still a player for you (Parker is still 25 right now).
So still, the best option – trade Blackmon.
Now there are a lot of teams that will be happy with a cheap, athletic, okay defender in CF with power. So he may actually return a real prospect, not some B-teamer with marginal prospect status. If the team wants to seed the future with real talent, Blackmon is the one person – other than Tulo – who can make that happen (well, Arenado but…anyone see that happening, even with a top prospect coming).
What do you loose with Blackmon? You lose your lead-off man. You lose a league-average defender. You lose a left-hand batter with power. Those three things are not small. But are the items that cannot be replaced?
As the Zingers article points out, CarGo is probably the natural lead-off man choice. His power seems to still be a bit away (not getting good pitches to hit may be part of that), but he still has a stroke that can bring you 20-25 bombs each year (or similar to Blackmon). His eye has improved a lot, so should get relatively high OBP. And you get him probably one AB more each year. As for speed? I think CarGo still has base-stealing potential. But this year, still recovering from the knee…smart to not run. Plus his position in the batting order hasn’t really created a lot of opportunities. What you get then is a player with a similar profile as Blackmon. But with higher ceiling, even at his age and after injuries. Assuming that he is untradeable in the off-season as well, you can run him out there in 2016 as well (Dahl will probably start off as a 7 or 8 hole hitter, but is a great idea for a future 1 or 2).
As for center field this year? The folks at Zingers see it similar to me. You can run out a guy like Stubbs against lefties, maybe Barnes against righties (assuming Parker takes over in left for the rest of the season). Or the team may decide to finally give a player like Tim Wheeler some at-bats and play CF. The point being if the season is lost…find out what you have. You know what you have in Blackmon and…the team isn’t winning with that person at the top of the lineup. Its not Blackmon’s fault per-se, but its just wise to test and see your players and their potential value (some guys do hit better at this level instead of AAA because they see more pitches around the plate).
So the first step towards building for 2016 I would argue is….trade Charlie Blackmon.
Possible trading partners? The Mets are ranked #6 and need a CF. The Angels are said to be looking for a lefty bat (low rated farm system but talent there – #27 system). The other teams may have a need or looking at a better option that isn’t obvious.
A still not age 30 player with plenty of team control…a lot of teams will be interested. The question is what do they have to offer?
(The Rockies farm system is rated somewhere between 4 to 8 by the rating systems by the “experts.”)