Friday, June 27, 2014

Trade Winds: The Disappointing Colorado Rockies

To look at other recent blogs on possible teams to look at in the trade market before July 31st, click here.

Like so many clubs, including both the Diamondbacks and Padres, the Rockies added salary this year and have been disappointing. Despite an extra $20M, Colorado has been stuck in reverse since April when they are 16-13. Since? 19-30. Part of that is their offense has come a little back to Earth, but it remains very, very good. The bigger reason is a pitching staff that has gone from an ERA in the low 4's to an ERA well over 5.00 since. Even great offenses can't make up for that.

It's unlikely that they'll get into the rearview mirrors of either the Dodgers or Giants, and thus, they probably won't make any noise in the Wild Card race. Therefore, it's another summer of trading pieces to get younger and hopefully better for the future in Denver.

The Braves could hypothetically have interest in high-priced pending free agents like Jorge De La Rosa or Michael Cuddyer, but there are some problems there. (1) Like I said, they're high priced as both are still owed half of at least $11M. Without financial help, it would appear that would put eliminate the Braves' interest on both. (2) If it didn't, both could attract a lot of interest from other teams willing to give the Rockies significant talent. (3) Even if the Braves are still interested in Cuddyer, he's hurt with a separated shoulder and will likely be out until at least late July.

Maybe a reliever and former Braves' second rounder in 1998 could intrigue the Braves. Matt Belisle never pitched for Atlanta because they sent him to the Reds to acquire Kent Mercker in 2003. Since 2009, he has pitched in 359 games with the Colorado Rockies, but is short of the 10/5 designation that would make it more difficult to trade for him. While his ERA the last two years has been well above 4.00, Belisle has had a 3.23 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, and 3.95 K/BB since the beginning of 2013. He recently turned 34 and is headed to free agency after the season. He's expensive for a middle reliever and the Braves might want some added cash from Colorado's side on what's left of the $4.25M he is owed for the remainder of the season. Won't provide much in terms of set-up work, but Belisle can be counted on for a pretty good inning and is durable.

Sticking with the Rockies bullpen, closer LaTroy Hawkins has been around since 1957, but he continues to pitch pretty well even though he can't strike out anyone (3.7 K/9 this season). He has locked down 14 saves, though has rarely been needed since April. I don't know if I would want him to pitch the seventh inning, but he adds depth on the cheap. He's due about half of his $2.25M and he has a club option for 2015, but it's a cheap buyout of $250K.

Outside of those two relievers, Colorado doesn't seem like a great place to target for improvement. They have a lot of young players who are just entering arbitration, which means they're still cheap and team-controlled. And neither Belisle or Hawkins should be a primary target. Both could be useful, but they are more depth than anything and while depth is important, it won't provide a dramatic change for the Braves.

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