Editor's note: I know that Dick Monfort has said the Rockies won't be sellers at the trade deadline, but that's hard to believe about a team that is 14 games under .500 and playing one of the worst two-month stretches of baseball I've ever seen. That said, sometime over the weekend we'll explore potential pitching options for the Rockies based on the owner's recent interview with Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
The struggles of the Rockies' bullpen have been highly publicized. The unit was largely responsible for most of the losses that occurred during the May swing through Atlanta, Philadelphia and Cleveland that kicked off the Rockies' slide into the National League West basement. Though, as a whole, the relief corps has been better lately, it's still a group that is susceptible to blow-ups on the reg.
That doesn't really apply to the senior member of the 'pen. LaTroy Hawkins, at the ripe age of 41, has been far and away the best relief pitcher the Rockies have suited up this season. He's been so good, in fact, that the 20-year big league veteran might have some value on the market.
Hawkins allows more contact and strikes out way fewer batters than you would normally want out of a reliever, but he also has a knack for missing barrels. That's why, in 32 innings spanning 34 appearances, the right-hander owns a 2.53 ERA/166 ERA+. Hawkins walks just 2.5 batters per nine innings and has actually allowed fewer than one hit per frame, which is pretty remarkable considering the whole Coors Field thing.
In road games, Hawkins has really found his groove, posting a 1.80 ERA while allowing only 15 baserunners in 15 innings. That, along with the fact that Hawkins is owed just over a million dollars for the remainder of the season, makes him a good candidate to to be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline.
That very possibility was acknowledged on Friday by MLB.com's Thomas Harding, who notes that Hawkins is no stranger to being shipped in midseason deals.
"I've been through it," Hawkins told Harding. "When I thought I was going to get traded, I didn't get traded. When I didn't think about it, they did it; I got designated and traded. I can't control that."
Though there hasn't been any word on anything specific surrounding the Rockies' closer, there are quite a few contending teams in need of bullpen help. Hawkins, despite his relative success at Coors Field (3.18 ERA, 16 hits allowed in 17 innings), would probably fit best on a team that plays its home games in a pitcher's environment. The Pirates, Giants and Dodgers -- all of whom, to varying degrees, could use a reliable bullpen arm -- fit the bill. In the American League, the Tigers and Angels would make sense, though it's probably common knowledge that Hawkins is likely to be less effective against better lineups.
The Rockies might just ship Hawkins off as a favor to him, considering he likely doesn't have a lot of time left in the league and probably wants to play for a contender. That said, if the front office really believes the Rockies can climb out of their hole and contend for a postseason berth, it wouldn't make much sense to trade a guy who, while not an ideal closer, has plenty left in the tank as a legitimate out machine as a middle reliever.