With all the transaction attention that will undoubtedly fall on various members of the Colorado Rockies this winter (read: Carlos Gonzalez), neither Brooks Brown nor Michael McKenry figured to sit too prominently on anyone's roster move radar.
But as we reported Wednesday, Brooks Brown was claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Michael McKenry was outrighted to AAA Albuquerque with Simon Castro and Gonzalez Germen.
Then, McKenry indicated he'll be taking advantage of free agency in 2016:
Grateful for 2 seasons back with the team who got this baseball journey started. All the best to my teammates & Rockies fans! #freeagent— Michael McKenry (@theFortMcKenry) October 15, 2015
Both McKenry and Brown certainly had their moments the last two seasons, and there are jobs out there for them. They'll land on their feet. McKenry is recovering from knee surgery and ought to be ready next year, and considering Brown's new club, there's an opportunity to impact the Dodgers' bullpen right now if only he were allowed (he's not).
Best of luck to both; if Brown sticks in L.A. like he should, we'll see him in 2016. And McKenry, a veteran of six big league seasons (where did the time go?!) will find the right fit. Such is the transient existence of professional baseball.
Besides losing two depth pieces, though, what's the bottom line in Denver after these moves? Some thoughts:
Don't leave us so soon, Brooks Brown
Truth be told, I have a soft spot for guys who take the long road to the big leagues. Sure, Brooks Brown was a first-round draft pick, but from there he went on a nine-year (!) odyssey through the minors. Against all objective fact and better judgment, part of me believes there's something to be said about guys who take the tough route. Grit, and all that.
And while Brown has that going for him -- and some nasty stuff in short bursts out of the bullpen -- he is also easily replaceable, even in the relief corps clusterf*ck that resides at Coors Field. A career 3.97 ERA and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings do not a dominant reliever make. (But it could be worse, I scream into the abyss, as I look at Tommy Kahnle's 2015 numbers.)
Brown's velocity was also down pretty significantly across the board in 2015 compared to last season, though some of that could be attributed to unfortunate nagging injuries that broke up his season. Perhaps the Rockies felt it was time to leave him open to a claim, and hey, that's fine. Teams swap relievers all the time.
Above anything else, though, Brown has one great attribute the Rockies aren't yet in a position to overlook: he's alive. (Zing!) If you missed, oh, the last 20-plus years of Rockies baseball, with few exceptions, let me to catch you up: the club can never get enough pitching. They always need more. For the foreseeable future, this will continue.
Seeing a serviceable reliever walk away is a loss for the 2016 Rockies. It's a loss they can absorb and replace, of course. It's not nearly the same as a hypothetical loss of insert important member of the starting lineup here. But with a home ballpark brutal on bullpens and a rotation still not likely to pitch deep into games, at a time when Jeff Bridich ought to be stockpiling pitching depth, a reliever departs. There's a lot of offseason left, and new arms will arrive in Denver soon, but the end of Brown's tenure is a (minor) misstep.
Tom Murphy time behind the plate
McKenry's departure, on the other hand, makes sense for the Rockies' future behind the plate. Nick Hundley is still the presumptive starter in 2016, and Dustin Garneau got a decent amount of burn (and did better than I expected) this summer, but clearing out McKenry means one thing: Tom Murphy.
Great! I'm an advocate of having Murphy back up Hundley next summer. McKenry's move allows Murphy the chance to learn behind a capable veteran in a low-pressure role on a club that won't be expected to do much. Better that than pushing him to start five games a week right away, which -- if the development plan holds -- is what Murphy will then be prepared to do in 2017 and beyond.
If Murphy succeeds in a back-up role, Hundley suddenly will become an interesting trade candidate in July. Garneau (and perhaps Ryan Casteel) would then serve as organizational depth, should something happen. To this end, McKenry's departure makes sense and ought to be read as a vote of confidence in Murphy. Wonderful! Let's play for the future. Youth movement, and all that.
Two moves into the offseason, my scorecard holds a Love It! (McKenry) and a Leave it (Brown). That said, it's not fair to judge any of these moves prima facie without the context of Bridich's entire winter plan. So while I hate seeing Brown depart, for example, moves over the next few months
will may make up for Wednesday's transactions. Of course, we'll all eagerly stay tuned regardless. What else is there to do, watch football?
Hello, by the way
Hi, I'm Bobby. I'm new here! I look forward to getting to know all of you (well, the nice ones, anyways). I'm absolutely ecstatic to work with Bryan, Eric and the rest of the staff here. If you do the Twitter thing, please reach out and tweet me; I'd love to strike up a conversation about the Rockies or, well, almost anything else!