Dear Rockies Front Office,
We know you’re busy with the All-Star Game. It’s a big deal to get the game three months before it takes place. Plus, the draft starts Sunday. The Rockies have the eighth pick on Sunday and more rounds on Monday and Tuesday. That’s a lot of work.
It’s understandable that you are all very busy with those preparations, especially since it’s such a small staff after the resignation of the GM Jeff Bridich in April, and then the departures of assistant GM of player development Zach Wilson and assistant GM Jon Weil, who oversaw major-league scouting, in June. That’s not even mentioning the depleted analytics department (sometimes known as the analytics and laundry department).
With that fair acknowledgment of the workload, after All-Star week is over, can we please talk about the plan for the Rockies’ future? Can we please get to hiring a GM now instead of waiting until later? It’s clear that there is a lot of work to do, but is anyone focused on the on-field product? It’s nice that the Rockies won on Thursday to prevent being swept by the worst team in MLB, but the Rockies are still 38-50 (7-33 on the road) and the seventh-worst team in the MLB. After Wednesday’s press conference, I have some concerns about the Rockies team that fans have been watching this year and the one that you seem to think exists.
As the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders reported, Greg Feasel, the former vice president of business operations who is now the team president, doesn’t seem worried. “Yes, there has been change, but we feel good about how we are moving forward,” Feasel said.
While Feasel wouldn’t discuss why assistant GMs are leaving the organization, Saunders also paraphrased that Feasel said he was “confident that the current front office is capable of handling its wide array of duties.”
I am just wondering Greg, do you really believe that? I totally understand that as the team president, you have to tell the media that everyone is doing great despite being short-staffed. Morale might be dwindling after all. It would have been shocking if you admitted the Rockies organization is a sinking ship and that Wilson and Weil are brilliant for abandoning it. The lights are still on at Coors Field and operations do indeed go on, but do you really “feel good about how [you] are moving forward”?
Perhaps even more alarming, is the lack of activity in trade talks leading up to the deadline on July 30. This current team is going nowhere fast in the loaded NL West and it’s not because they are underperforming. They are performing as well as most expected they would. Going into the 2021 season, FanGraphs projected the Rockies would lose 97 games, the Denver Post said 90, and Las Vegas said 98-100. Through 87 games, FanGraphs has readjusted to 94.
Appearing on the MLB Radio Network, Bud Black said that newly named All-Star Germán Márquez is off the trade table. At least he’s in the second year of a five-year contract and this tracks with Rockies historical “family” views.
But Black also said “a few other guys, too” were also off the table. On Wednesday, Nick Groke at The Athletic published an article saying that the Rockies have “shut down” all trade talks. In case you missed it, here is what Groke reported:
“The Rockies and interim general manager Bill Schmidt have indicated to teams that they are not willing to engage in trade talks on any player, multiple league sources told The Athletic. And they have shut down discussion over Trevor Story and Jon Gray, among others, at least until play resumes after the All-Star break.”
We know Schmidt had some adjusting to do in learning more about the current club after being dedicated to scouting for so long, but this seems to suggest that he is only focusing on the draft and unable to multitask to assess short-term roster needs. In case you weren’t aware, here’s a list of players who will become free agents after the 2021 season:
Jhoulys Chacin, Chris Owings, and Matt Adams are also on that list, but it’s ok to not focus on them so much right now.
The big thing to think about is how guys that have legit big-league talent and would probably like to win baseball games and maybe go to the playoffs (cough cough Story and Gray) might not want to resign with the Rockies. You might be fine with maintaining the status quo, but Story wants and deserves to win, as well as get paid what he’s worth. Would you rather free agents, including homegrown talent, just start fleeing the team, leaving you with roster vacancies the size of empty seats on Opening Day 2.0? (That was about 18,000 short of a sellout in case you missed it.)
There are also contending teams who might like to add a slugging first baseman and veteran bullpen arms. They might want to call and offer to trade young prospects in return for Cron, Bard, or Givens. Those young players could help build a contender in the future since you aren’t going anywhere in the NL West this year.
Maybe you’ll have more time to think about the current roster on July 16. That leaves you with two weeks. I am sure that is enough time to make a well-thought-out decision for the future product and team payroll. Look at how well the Nolan Arenado trade went. The Cardinals got one future Hall-of-Famer and $51 million, while the Rockies got one MLB pitcher and four questionable prospects. Like Dick Monfort said, “This didn’t just all of a sudden happen. This took a lot of work. So, I think these are the results of that.”
We know Schmidt wants to be in the running for the permanent GM possession. This seems like a good test. Two weeks is probably plenty of time.
Oh, but one more thing. Groke also reported that “Sources from two opposing front offices said their teams don’t know exactly whom to contact when they want to reach the Rockies about trades.”
Bill, maybe a good place to start would be to give other teams your phone number.
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Colorado Rockies: Injury updates on Austin Gomber and Jordan Sheffield | Rox Pile
In a pre-game press conference on Thursday, Bud Black gave updates on Austin Gomber and Jordan Sheffield. Gomber, who went on the 10-day IL on June 19 with forearm tightness, “felt fine” after a bullpen session on Wednesday, progressing closer to a simulated game this weekend. After that, the Rockies will decide if he then can rejoin the rotation or if he’ll need a rehab assignment first, which Black said is more probable. Sheffield, on the other hand, isn’t expected to return to minor league or MLB action until August as he recovers from a lat strain.
2021 Home Run Derby: Breaking down the eight participants on July 12 at Coors Field | Denver Post ($)
This has a short breakdown of each contestant and gives Story the edge because of sight lines and familiarity with the park.
LISTEN: Trevor Story greets DIA travelers headed to MLB All-Star Game | Denver Post ($)
Outside of Colorado governors, Denver mayors, and local TV anchors, the welcoming voice on the DIA trains have featured the likes of Peyton Manning, Colorado skiing legend Mikaela Shiffrin, Avalanche defender Nate MacKinnon, and even former Rockie Nolan Arenado. Now, it’s current Rockie Home Run Derby participant Trevor Story.
On the farm
Triple-A: Round Rock Express 7, Albuquerque Isotopes 6 (5 innings)
Despite a three-run, first-inning homer from Sam Hilliard, who has 14 homers on the season and 10 since June 15, the Isotopes lost in a rain-shortened game. Rio Ruiz also homered in a two-hit night where he also scored two runs. Taylor Motter also had a hit, an RBI, and scored a run. Ian Clarkin took the loss for Albuquerque, giving up seven runs on five walks in 3 1⁄3 innings. On the bright side, Jesus Tinoco threw 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings.
Double-A: Portland Sea Dogs 8, Hartford Yard Goats 3
The Yard Goats jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the Sea Dogs (31-23) countered with a four-run second and never lost that lead. Karl Kauffman (0-70 took the loss for Hartford (18-38), giving up five earned runs on nine hits with two walks and three strikeouts in five innings. Elehuris led the Yard Goats with two hits, Sean Bouchard hit an RBI triple, Matt Hearn hit a double and scored two runs, and Max George hit a double and scored run.
High-A: Spokane Indians 5, Vancouver Canadians 4
Brenton Doyle hit a three-run homer in a four-run sixth inning to lead the Indians to a victory on Thursday night. Michael Toglia and Kyle Datris both added sac flies, Isaac Collins and and Jack Blomgren both recorded a hit and scored a run, and two hits came from Hunter Stovall. Chris McMahon had a great start, earning the win by giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings with seven strikeouts and one run. Stephen Jones and Dugan Darnell each pitched a scoreless inning in the eighth and ninth, respectively.
Low-A: San Jose Giants 7, Fresno Grizzlies 3
San Jose broke open a 3-3 tie with one run in the fifth and sixth innings and two more in the eighth to down the Grizzlies on Thursday night. Mateo Gil hit a solo homer, Ezequiel Tovar added three hits, one RBI, and one run scored, Eddy Diaz chipped in two hits and a run, and Drew Romo hit an RBI double for Fresno.
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