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The case for not trading Blackmon

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, December 19, 2019

The problem with a Charlie Blackmon trade and how the Rockies are mining right field | The Athletic ($)

Just like we apparently can’t escape the Nolan Arenado trade rumors, Charlie Blackmon’s name pops up all the time from fans and pundits alike.

As a disclaimer, I have never been a fan of any ideas of trading Blackmon. I may be an outlier here and I am sure this will garner lots of fair critique. I believe Blackmon is the catalyst of the offense, as leadoff hitter or anywhere else in the lineup. He is also a valuable player in the clubhouse. In addition, I don’t believe the Rockies would get anything near good enough in return to cover the gap he would leave in the lineup (like the one left by DJ LeMahieu). I totally see how Charlie is a good candidate for a DH in the American League and that’s probably a great fit, even as soon as 2022. Just not now. And while I am being honest, I love when Charlie gets up to bat and I get to yell “toniiiiiight!” with everyone else at Coors Field in our best The Outfield impressions.

As for the Nolan trade talks, they are even worse. We’ll just ignore those for today.

This feature by Nick Groke, which is the fifth in a series of position-by-position analysis, makes the argument that Blackmon, 33, is the best player for the Rockies in right field right now. Maybe the headline should have been problems, not just problem. Groke points out that there is the money problem. Blackmon has $42 million remaining to be paid out on his contract with two guaranteed years and more options and incentives beyond. Then there is the offensive production problem. Chuck Natzy is not just one of the best hitters on the team, but in all of baseball.

While there are certainly many better defensive players, it’s hard to think there is one that would be worth the loss in the offensive lineup. Here are the numbers for the best hitters for the Rockies over the last three years.

Nolan Arenado hit .307/.375./577 with 116 homers, 358 RBI, 112 doubles, 11 triples, and 306 runs scored.

Charlie Blackmon hit .312/.374/.559 with 98 homers, 260 RBI, 108 doubles, 28 triples, and 368 runs scored.

Trevor Story hit .276/.341/.530 with 96 homers, 275 RBI, 112 doubles, 14 triples, and 267 runs scored.

One of the topics of this article is about the durability and health of Blackmon. He admits to being a little run down and banged up in 2018. With the move from center to right, he was able to save his body a bit more this year. Of course, at the end of the 2019 season, Blackmon explained it in a very Chuck Natzy way: “I don’t feel terrible. I feel like there were times last year that I felt worse.” This is good news. This could lead to a longer lifespan of Charlie’s sustainability at the plate.

The outfield has to improve from 2019. With Blackmon in right, a healthy David Dahl in center, and either Raimel Tapia or possibly Sam Hilliard in left, it will be better. The problem isn’t that we need to get rid of Charlie; it’s the need to bench Ian Desmond. Having Tapia and Hilliard gives the Rockies options to see how the promising players can deliver in a starting role.

With Noel Cuevas signing with the Cubs (minor league deal) and Tauchman being a Yankee, the remaining outfielders on the Rockies’ 40-man roster are Yonathan Daza and Desmond. There are young prospects in Triple-A Albuquerque’s Drew Weeks, and Single-A outfielders Niko Decolati and Daniel Montano.

Remembering Tsao’s unusual baseball career | MLB.com

Normally, a pitcher who recorded a 5.80 ERA, a 4-3 record, and four saves after appearing in 29 games with 8 starts over three years, doesn’t warrant a 1,600-word feature article 15 years later. However, Thomas Harding pulled off that feat with this spotlight on former Rockies pitcher Chin-hui Tsao.

This is a fun read on the scouting process of Tsao, who became the first Taiwanese pitcher to take the mound in the majors when he made his debut for the Rockies in 2003. His MLB career was then derailed by injuries, but this article covers the show-stopping strikeout ability and electric promise he had. There are also some great quotes from former Rockies Manager Clint Hurdle and former GM Dan O’Dowd.

Another fun fact is that while Colorado scout Tim Ireland was scoping out Tsao, he discovered Manny Corpas, the closer in the original Rocktober in 2007 and helped led the Rockies to their only World Series appearance.

The best and worst free-agent signings of the decade for all 30 MLB teams | ESPN.com

There’s always more lists. This one is interesting, especially when looking at contract dollars with so many teams spending hundreds of millions on single free agents. This analysis also looks at total dollars committed, how many wins each team got in the decade and how many playoff games they played. The Rockies committed a total of $412.45 million, which ranks No. 20 in the league, for 752 wins (No. 27), and five playoff games. For perspective, the Red Sox spent the most ($1.075 billion) and the Yankees got the most wins (921). When it comes to the NL West, the Dodgers are tops with $843.82 million (No. 6), and 919 wins (No. 2) and 66 playoff games. One stat where the Dodgers and Rockies are the same is World Series wins over the last decade.

ESPN’s pick for Colorado’s best free-agent signing is Rafael Betancourt. He signed a 2-year deal in 2010 for $7.55 million. This is a great selection. Betancourt, with his spot-on accuracy, remains one of the best relievers in Rockies’ history and he holds to mark for the most saves in the decade (58) for the team, even though he didn’t spend most of his time closing out games.

For the Rockies, their biggest free agent contract was also the worst: Ian Desmond’s $70 million, 5-year deal. Instead of rehashing depressing stats, I’ll just quote ESPN senior writer David Schoenfield who said, “Few deals in recent years raised as many eyebrows at the time as this one.”

In the former Rockies selections, Matt Holiday got the nod for best free agent pick up by the Cardinals, while Dexter Fowler was dubbed worst. Clint Barmes also got worst for the Pirates.

Still plenty of work left for NL West teams | MLB.com

Outside of the Diamondbacks, the offseason has been pretty quiet for the NL West. This report features a quick look at what each team still needs. The Rockies still need a catcher to compete against Dom Nunez and spring training invitee Drew Butera to pair with Tony Wolters. Steve Gilbert lists Robinson Chirinos, Martín Maldonado, Jason Castro, Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph as nice candidates.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers still need to do something big, the Diamondbacks need an outfielder and the Giants and Padres need to add an impact bat, specifically one in the hands of an outfielder for San Francisco.