Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week during the season.
Pose a Rockies – or MLB – related question for the Rockies Mailbag.
Why is it that Mark Reynolds, Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu are all leaders in MLB stats yet trail in all-star voting. It is a crime that lesser players have more votes. The Rockies need more respect.
— Jim, Denver
Jim, I’m sure other Rockies fan share your frustrating, but the truth of the matter is that with the fans voting for the All-Star Game, it’s popularity contest and a notoriety contest. Major League Baseball likes it that way because it’s great for marketing and fan interaction. It doesn’t always select the best or most deserving players, but that’s what’s in place.
Rockies players are sometimes overlooked because they simply don’t have as big a fan base as say the Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals or many of the East Coast teams. Plus, there remains a bias about Rockies players being “products of Coors Field.”
This year, I think three Rockies will be in Miami for the Midsummer Classic: Blackmon, Arenado and closer Greg Holland.
In addition to the fans’ vote, the players and managers have a say on who makes the roster. So an overlooked player such as Reynolds or LeMahieu could be added.
Here is a quick tutorial on how All-Star Game teams are select:
- The All-Star team managers are always the managers of the teams that were in the World Series the previous season.
- Each team has a 34-man roster, which includes 21 position players and 13 pitchers. MLB players, managers and coaches are now able to vote and help choose the backup players and pitchers for their league.
- In the National League, fans select the eight starters. Players, coaches, and managers choose eight backups for each position, plus five starting pitchers and three relievers. The NL All-Star team manager chooses the remaining players to bring the roster to 33.
- In the American League, fans vote for nine slots, because of the designated hitter position. The players, managers, and coaches also vote for nine positions, in addition to five starting pitchers and three relievers. The AL All-Star team manager will select the remaining pitchers and position players to total 33 roster spots.
- Fans vote for the starting positions, while the players, coaches and managers vote for the reserve position. If a player wins both votes, he gets to be the starter in his position since the fans chose him. The runner-up in the coaches/players/managers vote gets to be the reserve player.
- Following the conclusion of voting and the announcement of the starters, pitchers, and reserves, fans have the opportunity to select the final position player for each League’s 34-man roster at MLB.com.
Going back about one month, the Rox bullpen seems to have issues when they have a lead of four runs, they let it get too close. See June 15 against the Giants, June 2 against the Padres, May 21 vs. the Reds, and the May 20 meltdown against Reds, just to name a few. It’s a long season, sure, but it’s seemingly a problem.
Is it inexperience or something else leading to this repeated nail-biting? It seems one way to solve it, if they want to be playoff contenders, would be to make some trades to bolster the bullpen with veterans. Do you expect any moves from the Rockies to help with their push the second half of the season?
— Phil, Denver
Phil, that’s quite a question. I’m not sure where to begin.
I don’t think all of the bullpen issues have a lot to do with the score of the game, except in some instances where manager Bud Black has inserted Jordan Lyles or Chad Qualls when the Rockies have big leads … only to see them implode and turn a would-be route into a nail-biter.
In my opinion, neither Qualls nor Lyles is the type of reliever you want on a championship team. However, teams throughout the majors have relievers in the bullpen who are simply there to eat up innings in blowout losses or victories.
Matthew Stockman, Getty Images
Jordan Lyles #24 of the Colorado Rockies throws in the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs during the second game of a double header at Coors Field on May 9, 2017 in Denver.
As for roster moves for the second half, I would hope that general manager Jeff Bridich — with the blessings of owner Dick Monfort— will seek to shore up the bullpen at the trade deadline. It’s rare that the Rockies are in this position to contend and they have to make the most of this chance.
Of course, a number of other teams are going to want to make deals to improve their own bullpens, so that means the Rockies would be competing with the Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, etc. for some valuable arms.
So, who might be available? It’s a little too early to tell, but there are some names to ponder:
- Padres left-hander Brand Hand, who is under control for two-plus seasons. The Padres would demand a lot for him.
- Athletics right-hander Ryan Madson
- Phillies right-hander Pat Neshek
- Pirates left-hander Tony Watson
I’m not saying the Rockies have targeted any of them, but they are pitchers who are likely going to be available for the right price.
Among the young starting pitchers, it seems like German Marquez would be the best candidate to move to the bullpen when Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson return. Do you agree? At this point in his career, Marquez has trouble navigating the third time through the lineup and struggles with high pitch count — and I think his big arm and strikeout ability could immediately make him a valuable high-leverage bullpen arm (he could replace Lyles).
Jeff Hoffman really needs to stay in the rotation, in my opinion, so whoever is doing better between Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland should stay as the fifth starter, with the other one going down to Triple-A for some more seasoning. Please tell Jeff Bridich my plan if you don’t mind, I’m happy to help.
— John, Los Angeles, Calif.
John, I’m sure Mr. Bridich will be thrilled with your advice.
I agree with much of what you said. I think that of the current rookie starters, Marquez is the best fit for the bullpen — for the short term. I think his fastball-curve combination would be a potent weapon out of the bullpen.
Perhaps Marquez becomes the long reliever, freeing up Chris Rusin to be more a back-of-the-bullpen pitcher (something we’ve see more of in recent games).
I also want Hoffman to stay in the rotation, but right now I would pick Senzatela to stick over Anderson.
So when everyone is healthy, my rotation would be: Tyler Chatwood, Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman. I’d keep Anderson at Triple-A for some seasoning.
Finally, Chad Bettis is ahead of schedule on his return from testicular cancer. He’s already throwing bullpen sessions. Manager Bud Black has said that Bettis still profiles as a starter, but I would not be shocked to see the Rockies use him out of the ‘pen this summer.
(Editor’s note: This answer was written prior to Hoffman’s outing against Arizona in which he allowed 9 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.)
I’m a die-hard Rockies fan in New York and couldn’t be more excited over the team’s hot start. Barring anything drastic, the Rockies should at least be in wild-card contention come the trade deadline. It’s been a while since the team’s been a definite buyer. Do you think it’s possible for the Rockies to trade for a top starter without trading any of their top prospects like Brendan Rodgers, Riley Pint, or Ryan McMahon?
— Jonathan Leung, Nanuet, New York
Jonathan, by top starter, I assume you mean someone like the Whites Sox’s Jose Quintana, the A’s Sonny Gray, Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer or the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole, who recently shut down Colorado in Pittsburgh.
At this point, I don’t think Bridich and Company are willing to give up any of the three prospects you mentioned. I think the Rockies believe they have decent talent and depth in starters and they aren’t going to give up their top prospects for a starter.
I have loved Bud Black as the Rockies manager. One move he has a habit of making, however, makes me curious. As you pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the Rockies have not been good at coming back from deficits this season. One of the contributing factors seems to be that, in almost every game in which the Rockies are trailing in the mid to late innings, Black puts Jordan Lyles into the game, and Lyles has (apart from a decent outing here and there) been pretty much a lock to give up a couple of runs. Does Black have no faith in the Rockies ability to come back? Or does he want to save his good relievers for games they have a more clear route to a win?
— Isaac Bowen, Wellington
Isaac, your are correct. Until the two incredible comeback wins highlighted by Nolan Arenado’s walk-off homer for the cycle against the Giants and his go-ahead triple in the eighth against the Diamondbacks, the Rockies have not rallied for many wins.
As for Black’s decision to use Lyles in games when the Rockies are behind, it’s a smart move. He has to save his bullpen and that means throwing Lyles out there. Over the course a long season, there have to be some sacrificial lambs.
I think Black has managed the bullpen terrifically.
The big problem with the Rockies as described by MLB Network hosts is that their young pitchers will run out of innings (keep under 160) or go over 160 and risk their careers. Taking us to the edge but not being around to finish the deal. By my quick math they can use the 10-day disabled list once per month per pitcher and keep things about right. Is this a viable strategy?
— Bill Kalfas, Longmont
Bill, I think you will see the Rockies do this from time to time. We might see a phantom trip to the DL for “shoulder fatigue.” But I don’t think manager Bud Black likes the strategy as a whole. He wants his pitchers to stay on a firm schedule and learn as they go.
So it’s a touchy situation for the Rockies, but one they have been reluctant to address. I think we will know more over the next six weeks or so.
Patrick, I’ve asked you this before and you laughed at me saying that I was a fantasy baseball player that was infatuated with trades, but after 60 games isn’t it about time to do something with Carlos Gonzalez? His trade value is low but there has to be a team out there that is wanting to take a salary dump. If they aren’t going to trade him, why do they keep putting him in the clean up spot when he is hitting .222 from that spot? His .174 RISP is ridiculous from a guy making $20 million a year.
— Aaron Hurt, Omaha, Nebraska
Aaron, you said I “laughed at you?” I don’t recall that. Anyway, I apologize if I came off as rude. I’m grateful that I can answer so many questions for my mailbag.
Anyway, I’m writing this a day after CarGo hit a solo homer off Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke in the Rockies’ 4-3 victory. Gonzalez has shown signs of breaking out, though it hasn’t been sustainable.
I have also been confounded by the Rockies’ decision to hit him in the cleanup spot, but lately he has been hitting fifth or sixth, which is where he belongs until he heats up (if he ever does). As I write this, he’s hitting .153 with runners in scoring position. That’s not acceptable for a No. 4 hitter.
I do not think the Rockies will trade Gonzalez, for a couple of reasons. One, he’s making $20 million this season and no team is going to pick up a big chunk of that salary, meaning the Rockies would have to eat a lot of it. They aren’t going to do that.
I think they will hang on to CarGo with the hope he can heat up and help carry the team — something he’s fully capable of at any time. Then, I think he walks at the end of the season.
Why not trade CarGo and Ian Desmond, and prospects to Miami for Gincaralo Stanton? No salary issue — $28M for the two big leaguers this year, and next year the Rockies get Jose Reyes‘ $22M off the books.
— Nathaniel, Lincoln, Nebraska
I don’t see that happening. It’s a risky trade and the Rockies’ outfield is performing well, even as CarGo has slumped. Stanton is owed a massive $270 million from 2018-28, but he could opt out after the 2019 season. If the Rockies are going to venture into long-term deals, they would be better served trying to sign Nolan Arenado to a big contract.
Howdy, Patrick. What used to be believed as endless prospect depth at OF now feels thin. Who is in the call-up cards with David Dahl working through his injury?
— Craig B., Denver
Craig, I think we’ve already seen that call-up in the Raimel Tapia, who’s already up and playing well. After that, the shelves are pretty bare, at least right now. I suppose that Jordan Patterson could be called up, but he’s a fourth outfielder in my book.
Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week on Tuesdays during the season.
Pose a Rockies – or MLB – related question for the Rockies Mailbag.Source: denverpost