DENVER, CO - JUNE 09: Relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt #63 of the Colorado Rockies reacts after the final out of the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on June 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Betancourt earned the win as the Rockies defeated the Dodgers 9-7. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Tuesday is the MLB Trade Deadline. The date is the same, but the names haven't changed for the Rockies.
For starters, Ramon Hernandez was pursued by the New York Mets and was inquired on by both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Washington Nationals. It's surprising that Hernandez has drawn even that much interest when you consider his age, his miserable batting line (.195/.237/.333, 4HR, 18 RBI, 36 wRC+), and the fact that his contract pays him $3.2M in 2013.
Keeping Hernandez around wouldn't be the worst option for Colorado. Ramon's poor batting this season can likely be attributed to injury, and even as a backup catcher, he can still provide the Rockies with what they acquired him for: mentoring for Wilin Rosario, who still has a lot to learn.
Next, Rafael Betancourt. Betancourt remains a very good pitcher, even at age 37. While he isn't quite as absurdly lights-out as he was in 2010, a 9.2 K/9 rate and 2.4 BB/9 rate are still excellent by any standard, and his diminished HR rate (0.7 HR/9) has helped result in a 2.92 ERA on the season for Raffy. 17 saves for a team who wins as few games as Colorado is a cherry on top.
Betancourt is signed for $4.25M next season and has a $4.25M mutual option on the 2014 season - very reasonable terms for a pitcher as skilled as Betancourt. Moving Betancourt would likely push Matt Belisle to the 9th inning (which I'm not a fan of, as managers tend to be more constrictive of their use of closers, while setup men often pitch more innings, which is great, as we want the best pitchers pitching the most innings). I don't see Rex Brothers as being ready for Closer duty just yet.
Matt Reynolds has also been brought up again by Ken Rosenthal. We talked about Reynolds last Friday, and it would appear that MLB FO's have been reading us, as there is apparently "significant interest" in Betancourt and Reynolds. Reynolds is uninspiring, but good. He's also incredibly affordable, so that's pretty neat. A good return would make parting with Reynolds palatable, but again, there's no reason to just give him away.
The Rockies are in a place of relative strength this deadline as sellers with affordable trade chips and nothing to lose. Keeping some of these guys wouldn't seem to make much sense from a business/rebuild perspective, but at least with Betancourt and Hernandez, we'd be keeping a couple of mentors for a very young team, which is sometimes helpful.
I could personally see this deadline passing with Betancourt, Hernandez, and Reynolds all remaining in Colorado, and it wouldn't be the end of the world, as far as I'm concerned.
The bullpen has been the strength of the Rockies' run-prevention efforts this season, there's no question. A tough July has nerfed the Rockies bullpen's value a bit, but fWAR still has the Rockies' relief staff as 6th most valuable in MLB.
(Fun fact: 6 of the top 7 teams in bullpen fWAR start with "R".)
A couple of individual performances come to my attention, personally this season, and they couldn't be more different of pitchers.
Josh Roenicke was claimed off of waivers last season, and certainly has not disappointed in a Rockies' uniform. Rex Brothers was chosen 34th overall by the Rockies in the 2009 entry-level draft. Brothers is a future closer, while Roenicke is the kind of guy who will likely bounce around a few MLB franchises as a low-leverage mopup type, but he's been getting the job done for Colorado.
Brothers is wild - we saw him walk 2 batters in his inning of work against the Reds on Saturday. But when you're striking out nearly 12 batters per 9 innings, you can afford to be a little wild. His 3.89 ERA somewhat speaks to his age and inexperience.
Roenicke, on the other hand, has a nice, shiny 2.48 ERA, and has been quite heroic in some of his 42 outings, pitching several innings in relief of one of the many terrible starting pitching outings we've been forced to witness this season.
Looking at ERA alone, it would appear that Roenicke is having the better season than Brothers. Given expectations and their relative roles, you could make a strong case for Roenicke in that fashion. What has me terrified about Roenicke, however, is the fact that he's walked nearly as many batters as he's struck out (bad) and is allowing only a .262 BABIP, which is one of those numbers that tends to regress in the "worse" direction. Flipside of the coin is Brothers, whose .408 BABIP suggests that he has a lot of work to do on his hittability, especially when it comes to fastball command.
To summarize this little comparison, Brothers' FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a metric which accounts for strikeouts, walks, and home runs in its run valuation of pitchers) sits at a fine 3.02, while Roenicke's is at a 4.50. (To be fair, Brothers' FIP over the past 30 days is 4.84, matching nicely with his 4.76 ERA).
For most of us, this is an awful lot of "duh". We know that Roenicke doesn't have the same upside as Brothers. But when we compare the two, we're looking at one guy who keeps the ball out of play a lot (given Brothers' high K and BB rates) as compared to Roenicke, who almost exclusively relies on batted balls to get his outs.
Last thought, and I'll make it a quick one - this last bit hasn't been meant to knock Roenicke. I was expecting Roenicke to wash out by June. But he has really stepped up well, especially when you consider the fact that he's had to mop up a lot of rotation spills, and he's done a fine job of it. He's definitely been a boon to this team, despite what fWAR/FIP might have to say about him.