If you are ever need a memory of a player gradually getting a bit more older and ineffective, you may be able to flash back to the warning signs of Carlos Gonzalez’s recent career. You could go with some handy traditional stats, look at the back of his baseball card and notice he hasn’t hit .300 or stole 20 bases since 2013. If you use some sabery stuff, his wRC+ for the last five years has gone: 146, 83, 114, 108, 51. His wOBA? .408, .315, .364, .361, .280. He had a flashy 40 home runs in 2015, but he hasn’t quite reclaimed that five tool talent that made him a star.
On the defensive side of things, he hasn’t had a positive UZR since 2013 either. It’s dangerous to rely on one stat and some of the declines in these stats are more gradual than the complete fall off of the shelf that is his 2017 season. The fear isn’t so much that he keeps declining but with multiple numbers suggesting he’s not the same player he was awhile ago, it makes one think that there is an actual decline as opposed to a one-off bad season. It also suggests that his peak might not be what it used to be either. Meanwhile, as a pending free agent who most likely won’t resign with the Rockies, his at bats take away from figuring out what Ramiel Tapia, Mike Tauchmann and David Dahl are capable of and who are likely as of today, better players than CarGo.
For all of the above, as Yingling wrote up at the Rockpile and Nick Herztog wrote today on Purple Row, I’m not quite in favor of an outright cut. He’s already paid for and though it’s easy for us to say “Release him!” it’s also not our pro-rated $20 million. I can understand why the Rockies want to see if there’s something that can be salvaged for that price tag.
He just shouldn’t be the starting right fielder anymore. The best potential for power off of the bench is still Gonzalez. Assuming that Gerardo Parra and Ramiel Tapia are in the outfield on a given day, he’d be the best lefty pinch hitter (though I’d rather have Wolters pinch hit if we needed a baserunner). It’d be hard for him to be a pinch hitter in the mold of Jason Giambi since Giambi still walked a ton, but there’s always the chance that something happens. There’s also the slight public relations benefit of letting an ex-star who sucked it up for many a bad Rockies team hobble somewhat gracefully towards free agency. Then again, though I personally lean against a DFA, I do agree there are very solid arguments for doing so.
While we lament Gonzalez’s performance, please check out his interview with Marly Rivera on the Rockies’ success and how difficult things have become in his home country of Venezuela. You can also check out her fascinating series of interviews with Gonzalez and other Latinos about the challenges to adapt to American baseball and culture. The articles are available in both English and Spanish.
While contemplating CarGo, there’s the case of Jordan Lyles who served the job of sitting in the bullpen for what could’ve been a frustrating a week at a time between appearances just so a young rookie didn’t have to. It seemed that each time he was going to be demoted, some other Rockies pitching injury would creep up and save his spot. Now that manager Bud Black will be cycling rookies through the bullpen to limit their innings, Lyles becomes a bit more superfluous but also a reminder that whether you were a star, like CarGo, or were the second best starter on the Rockies, like Lyles, baseball is a hard sport.
There’s also a snippet about Chad Bettis, in his return from cancer treatment, getting pulled from his start mid at-bat. There were fears this was injury related but it turns out he had just hit his pitch limit.
It’s not really a link, but check out Pat Neshek’s wikipedia page. Not only is he an avid autograph collector but he’s also a fan of Out Of The Park. His active social media presence and quirky delivery should make him a fun guy for Rockies fans to get to know.