Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Down on the Farm

Despite having only attended a couple minor league baseball games in person (Denver Zephyrs), I know for a fact that minor league baseball is awesome. My perceived greatness of the developmental system is not based on rivalries or quality of play or well known superstars. No, I know that minor league baseball is awesome because of these:

The logos and hats from minor league baseball are amazingly creative and most teams take some random local thing and turn it into an amazing brand. The Hillsboro Hops are a relatively new team, having transferred from Yakima, Washington in 2013. The former Yakima Bears (with its boring name and logo) used the move to make a brand that is unique (no other team has ever been named the Hops), has multiple meanings (regional beer history and baseball lexicon of bad hop, short hop, etc), and has the potential for such cool logos as you see above. It is really unfortunate that the Hops are associated with the Diamondbacks and I must hate them.

This past baseball offseason, there was a flurry of activity as minor league affiliation contracts were expiring and teams were searching for improvements to their minor league setups. As a masochist and Rockies fan (which might be the same thing), I try to keep up with the teams affiliated with the Rockies. The Rockies happened to be one of the teams that made some changes to their minor league system.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tulo and Hooch

This past year has made it quite clear: in my world of sports, I am not allowed to have nice things. To recap, the Rockies closed out a dismal 2014 season, the Pepsi Center sat empty over the winter as the Nuggets and Avalanche both missed the playoffs, the Broncos turned a successful regular season into a massive face plant in their first playoff game, and the Rockies started yet another disaster season at the bottom of the NL West. All of this ineptitude peaked with the Bombers of Blake Street making the biggest front office movement of their last five years - they traded Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Done Did It. . . Maybe?

A week and a half ago, I placed myself in Jeff Bridich's shoes and mapped out a path forward for my hapless Rockies. Naturally, Jeff did nothing that I recommended. This disparity most likely explains why he is running the front office of a Major League Baseball team and I am managing highway design projects. On Friday, the non-waiver trade deadline passed. The passing of the trade deadline does not mean that the Rockies are done moving pieces around, it just means that any player subject to a trade will need to clear waivers first. So where did Bridich and I differ?

Before we get into the misses, let's focus on where I freaking nailed it.

The Rockies traded LaTroy Hawkins.

That was a short list of successful predictions. The only player that was traded from my list of players that I recommended moving was the oldest player in the league. That's it. No De La Rosa, Gonzalez, Betancourt, Rosario, or Axford. Just Hawkins.

However, there was one player traded; a prediction that I missed completely: Troy Trevor Tulowitzki. Allow myself to quote. . . myself.

Tulo would return a haul of players/prospects. However, there is so much about Tulo that makes me hesitant to move him. He is the face of the franchise (and has been since Helton started sliding late in his career), he is the best shortstop in baseball, and I'm not sure that the Rockies would get a fair trade value for him. The Rockies are notoriously bad at holding onto assets too long, but Tulo is one player that I would recommend keeping around.

Instead of doing what I recommended, Jeff Bridich turned the best shortstop in baseball into Jose Reyes, Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro, and Jesus Tinoco. The first is a former All-Star and a former 30-30 threat who has experienced a dramatic decline in production (both sides of the ball) and is due a lot of money. The last three are all young, hard-throwing right handed pitchers.

Including Reyes in the deal makes me think that the trade was made for financial purposes. Reyes is due more money than the Rockies would have been paying Tulo each season, but with much smaller returns. There were a few rumors when the Tulo trade broke that there was a third team involved that would take on Reyes. This scenario made sense as Reyes could have been packaged with another Rockie or two for more pitching. The Rockies have a backup plan in Trevor Story, a highly-touted SS crushing the ball in Albuquerque. That third team never emerged and Reyes reported to his new team a couple days later.
Older (and much better) Asheville Tourists logo
I don't know much about Castro and Jesus, other than they are both right-handed, both young (20 years old) and are not Tulo. Tinoco had his debut with the Asheville Tourists on Sunday and it was as spectacular as a mid-afternoon Class A game against the Savannah Sand Gnats can be. (There is so much to love about minor league baseball. . .) Castro was assigned to the Albuquerque Isotopes and has completed two innings in two appearances. Yippie.
That Sand Gnat is ripped.
Hoffman is the centerpiece of the trade and is a pirate. For real. He attended East Carolina University before being drafted #9 overall in the 2014 draft, slipping down from potentially being taken in the top three picks of the draft after having Tommy John surgery. While Hoffman was the key to this trade, I really wish the Rockies would have gotten Daniel Norris instead. Hoffman was assigned to the soon-to-be defunct New Britain Rock Cats and made his debut on Saturday. Reports are that he pitched incredibly well against the Class AA hitters of the Erie SeaWolves. How this trade pans out for the Rockies is directly related to what Jeff Hoffman becomes. No pressure, kid.

And that was it. The trade deadline on Friday passed with no other activity from the Rockies. Bridich did not move his most valuable remaining asset (CarGo) or his new expensive toy (Reyes) or his butthead boss (Monfort). Rockies fans, including me, were perplexed. The trade of Tulo was supposed to be the start of the rebuild, the start of a new era at Coors. Instead, we sat and scratched our heads at the inactivity. There is still time to move some pieces, so I am going to make another failed attempt at being Jeff Bridich.

Waiver-Trade Candidates
Carlos Gonzalez - His name will continue to pop up on these lists until he is traded. CarGo now is the most valuable trade piece that Bridich has. With two remaining years on the contract worth $17 million and $20 million, there is potential that CarGo clears waivers. There are so many teams that should want his ridiculously high production. The problem is that he is injury prone and has played in all but seven of the Rockies' games this year. He's begging for something to break. His game also consists of streaky patches of peaks and valleys. This month of hitting the cover off the ball could easily be followed up with a three week slump. As the pressure to make the post-season increases, more teams will be willing to pick up a power-hitting corner outfielder.

Jose Reyes - With his contract ($22 million / year for 2016 and 2017 plus a club option in 2018), no one will claim Jose as he tumbles through waivers. Despite his decline, there are teams out there that could use an upgrade at shortstop. The Rockies will most likely need to eat some of Reyes' salary to move him. The Blue Jays are probably not a candidate.

Wilin Rosario - Baby Bull still needs to go to the American League. With his relatively low salary ($2.8 million this year with two more years of arbitration), he might get claimed on waivers. Still, a young, powerful DH for a young, powerful SP sounds like a great deal for both sides.

Drew Stubbs - The Rockies are paying nearly $6 million for a .202 batting average. I think he clears waivers, but I'm not sure if there are any teams interested.

Clearly, I suck at predicting what Bridich will do with this team. For now, I'll just enjoy tomorrow's game, the first major league start in the career of Jon Gray.

You may be wondering why I didn't talk about Tulo. One reason is that I have way too many words in this post already. The main reason is that I am still crying. Maybe later this week. . .
This looks unnatural.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Blow It Up

The Rockies are just a few days away from their first trade deadline with Jeff Bridich at the helm of the organization. After an exhausting, frustrating, and seemingly endless reign of inactivity under Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett, there is rumbling that the General Manager will actually do something this time around. While I am cautiously optimistic that Dick Monfort will unhook the leash from his GM, I am not going to get my expectations too high. What in Monfort's history has shown that he is willing to change his approach? That being said, it's time to play some virtual GM. Here is how I would approach the team if I were Bridich.

Move Them Now
Wilin Rosario - Right now, the Rockies and Rosario are a bad fit. Rosario does not have a position, can't play defense when he is on the field, and is playing in the wrong league. Baby Bull is a perfect DH candidate - power at the plate and defensively not on the field. It makes sense to move him to the American League where he can be successful.

Rafael Betancourt - Old and not good. Just see if you can get something for him.

Jorge De La Rosa - George of the Rose is arguably the best pitcher in Coors Field history. For some reason, a guy with a history of emotional meltdowns and mental breakdowns has conquered one of the worst pitching parks in all of baseball. It makes no sense at all. That being said, he is 34 years old and not a part of the Rockies' plan moving forward. This trade deadline is a perfect time to move him.

John Axford - I really like what the Ax Man has provided for the back end of the bullpen, despite his recent and untimely slump. With the injury to Adam Ottavino, Axford has been a solid late-innings reliever. Another pitcher in his mid thirties with value, it makes sense to use his success to build your farm system with a prospect or two.

LaTroy Hawkins - Oldest player in the major leagues with expectations that this is his final season. If you are a playoff team looking to add another arrow to your bullpen quiver, Hawkins makes for a sensible and short-term option. If you are the Rockies, why would you not try to get something for a guy that has no future with your team?

Carlos Gonzalez - Of all the players on the 40 man roster, Carlos Gonzalez makes the most sense to move. After an early season slump, CarGo has begun to play pretty well as of late (at least enough to show he is capable of returning to his past production). He is a middle-of-the-order bat that a playoff team should be salivating to add to their roster. CarGo will garner plenty of attention from other teams and should return a nice group of young players. Plus, CarGo is due $37M+ over the next two seasons. Getting that (at least a chunk of it) off the books would be helpful for the organization.

See What You Can Get
DJ LeMahieu - First time All Star, slick fielding, dependable bat second baseman. DJ has value, but isn't going to generate a ton of interest or return. He is making just over $500k this year with three years of arbitration ahead of him. If someone gives an offer that makes sense, make the deal. If nothing materializes, I have no issues keeping DJ around for a while.

Charlie Blackmon - Chuck Nazty was named an All Star for the first time in his career last year after a torrid start to his season.  His contract situation is exactly the same as LeMahieu's, so there is no sense in actively shopping him around. He provides good quality for the price you are paying him. But if a good offer comes in, pull the trigger.

Only If The Offer Is Outstanding
Troy Tulowitzki - Tulo would return a haul of players/prospects. However, there is so much about Tulo that makes me hesitant to move him. He is the face of the franchise (and has been since Helton started sliding late in his career), he is the best shortstop in baseball, and I'm not sure that the Rockies would get a fair trade value for him. The Rockies are notoriously bad at holding onto assets too long, but Tulo is one player that I would recommend keeping around.

No Way In Hell
Nolan Arenado - Do I need to explain this one at all?

Get Rid of Them Immediately, Even If All You Get Is A Bag Of Balls
Kyle Kendrick - Another free agent pitching failure that will make Monfort even more unwilling to dabble in the free agent pitching market.

Dick Monfort - I'd even take a used rosin bag.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Roller Coasters

As I listen to the gentle breaths of my dreaming wifey, I sit in my bed exhausted but unable to sleep. Maybe it is me being sentimental, maybe it is the lingering emotions of the day, but my fatigue is losing the battle to my churning brain. 

Tuesday nights are my Pueblo night and this week was no different until we got word that a friend of ours from our softball days had passed away and his service was early this afternoon. The overnight was scrapped and I spent the morning attempting to work from home as the kids squealed and yelled and had a grand time. After lunch, Sarah and I headed over to say our goodbyes to a man who impacted the lives of many and died way too young. Seeing the number of people in attendance and the outpouring of support for his family was beautiful yet heartbreaking. He only had 32 years to make an impression on the world and he did a bang-up job. We reconnected with old friends, ate some delicious green chile, and reminisced on the man we lost. 

After we got home, my parents came over to have dinner and help us with another parenting monument. Our little man was getting out of his crib and into his big boy bed. The bed can be a bunk bed, a trundle bed, or two separate beds. More importantly, it was my (and Matt's) bed growing up. Before that, it was my dad's (and probably various other Flick kids') bed when he was a child. The bed got set up, the 'rents left, and we put our kids to bed. This time, there was no crib wall to bend over. Our little dude is now a big boy. 

Couple that with dropping off Mackenzie's shot record at her new Kindergarten and this daddy has had enough for the day. 

So here I sit, yawning and wide eyed. I so desperately want to sleep and my mind's telling me no. But my body, my body's telling me yes. 

Rest in peace, Stefan. See you on the other side.