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The Rockies get an Ohtani marketing lesson—at the trade deadline

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Best Ways to Make Money in Major League Baseball:

  1. Make the playoffs
  2. Have Shohei Ohtani on your team

The Los Angeles Angels are currently 10.5 games back in a top-heavy American League West. They are seven games ahead of the Rockies in the win column, and without Mike Trout for most of the year, the Angels have been forced to persevere without a generational talent.

Ken Rosenthal tweeted on Monday that the club is “trying to decide course” as the trade deadline approaches.

Here’s what they’ve got: international superstar Shohei Ohtani. The Angels will sell tickets no matter what their record shows, all thanks to the man that just shattered the MLB Auctions all-time price record with his game-used jersey in the All-Star Game.

Anybody that was at Colorado’s Home Run Derby or All-Star Game can attest to the ovation Ohtani received. His worldwide notoriety comes as no surprise when he’s tossing 100-mph heaters in the All-Star Game and hitting the top of the Rooftop during Home Run Derby warmups. Not every team can bank on that talent for revenue as they hold an 8.4 percent chance of making the postseason.

Ask yourself this: How much does your focus increase when Ohtani plays?

The Rockies are now three days from the trade deadline, and their current series with the Angels can remind them what a superstar can do for a franchise. Nolan Arenado’s departure was tough enough for the Rockies to endure. If we can picture a Home Run Derby without Trevor Story in purple pinstripes, the loudest ovation would have been left for Ohtani. The Rockies would be left with mere recognition for opponents.

It sounds like what could happen the rest of the year if Jon Gray and Trevor Story aren’t members of the team on Friday.

This article is not meant to serve as a case for keeping those top pieces: it is instead to point out the significance of attendance alone as the trade deadline approaches. We’re left to wonder just how much a front office will seek to preserve ticket sales in an under-competitive time.

The Angels will most definitely get those sales every fifth day (at least), should Ohtani stay healthy. The Rockies are forced to reassess their current roster and decide—with an interim GM—how much those immediate ticket sales mean in the long run.

Ohtani case study: Attendance

The Angels took on the Tigers at home over Fathers’ Day weekend in a Thursday-through-Sunday series. Ohtani was the starting pitcher for the Thursday contest and the Angels drew over 30,000 fans that night. No other game in the series drew over 23,000. (See more: Shohei Ohtani Is Paying For His Own Contract | Baseball Prospectus) Again: the Fathers’ Day crowd on a Sunday afternoon was outnumbered by the Ohtani start on a weekday night.

It’s safe to say Angel Stadium wasn’t full of Detroit fans on Thursday, June 17. While opposing fans can supplement a home team’s income, there are more sustainable methods to draw crowds for home games.

There is only one Ohtani—but there is only one Jon Gray and Trevor Story, too.

Future opponents at Coors Field

Outside of divisional rivals, the remaining opponents to visit Coors Field this year are the Cubs, Marlins, Braves and Nationals. All four have a losing record.

While Cubs fans typically show well in Denver, their road series falls on a Tuesday through Thursday this year. For the rest of the season, Coors Field is set to feature just one weekend series with a winning-record visitor (Giants).

Those games might be tough to pack the park for.

Colorado fans will have a front-row seat for the NL West race as the Dodgers, Giants and Padres play a combined 12 games in Denver. Otherwise, it might take events like the Larry Walker jersey retirement for Coors Field to come alive if the Rockies opt to sell this week.

Monday night gave us an all-too-real reminder, as the finest current asset in MLB entertainment boosted the Angel Stadium ticket sales. The end-of-year attendance figures will be higher for the Angels thanks to Shohei Ohtani, and a similar number in Denver could be dependent on the roster moves that transpire in the next three days.

There is no shame in giving people something to cheer for, but not everybody has an Ohtani to fall back on. The Rockies will either cash in their chips and reassess, or find their own way to juice every remaining ounce out of Trevor Story and Jon Gray in the name of ballpark attendance.

The decision will shape the Rockies’ cheers to come. MLB’s trade deadline is this Friday at 2 p.m. MDT.

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Yankees Have Made Offer for Rockies’ Trevor Story Ahead of Deadline | Bleacher Report

This article features discussion from Buster Olney, Jon Heyman and Nick Groke while the extent of Yankees contact for Trevor Story remains unknown to the public. Bleacher Report’s Joseph Zucker: “Because they’re 19 games back of the first-place San Francisco Giants... one would expect the Rockies to move Story by the end of the week.”

Colorado Rockies’ manager Bud Black returns to team after clearing COVID protocols | Colorado Springs Gazette

Bud Black officially cleared COVID-19 protocols and made his way back to the dugout for Monday’s game. “‘I didn’t feel detached,” Black said. “It was just weird, different being away and having the team on the field.”’

Trade Deadline Business is Heating Up | DNVR

In the latest rendition of the DNVR Rockies Podcast, Drew Creasman and Patrick Lyons go head-to-head on some spicy trade deadline topics. Their discussion features the impending status of Jon Gray, a caution toward ‘predicting’ the Rockies, and a full debate on the Rockies’ front office outlook as the July 30 deadline approaches.

On the farm

An absolute pitchers’ duel went down in El Paso, Texas last night; the Chihuahuas posted the lone run of the night in the bottom of the eighth. Three El Paso arms combined to toss a three-hitter, and two of Albuquerque’s hits were recorded by Ryan Vilade.

José Mujica started for Albuquerque and tossed three scoreless frames with three strikeouts. He was followed by Frank Duncan, posting four scoreless frames and punching out five. It was Duncan’s fourth appearance since his Double-A call-up on July 1 and his first out of the bullpen.

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