It’s time to exit the Cron Zone.
As much as I have enjoyed watching C.J. Cron’s monstrous homers over the last two years, and the Rockies needed his power to provide 19% of the Rockies homers in 2022 and 17% of their homers over the last two years, it’s time to turn first base over to the next generation.
Even though it’s true that the Rockies outfield is crowded, one could argue that the infield is even more so. On the Rockies website, the organization lists eight infielders (Cron, Garrett Hampson, Ryan McMahon, Elehuris Montero, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Toglia, Ezequiel Tovar, and Alan Trejo) and five outfielders (Sean Bouchard, Kris Bryant, Yonathan Daza, Randal Grichuk, and Connor Joe — with Charlie Blackmon as DH).
Of course, Toglia and Hampson can also play outfield, but with Toglia and Montero as options at first base, Montero and Ryan McMahon as third basemen, Toglia able to play right field, and Blackmon dominating the DH, the Rockies can’t fall into the mistake of favoring aging veterans over young players when the Rockies aren’t close to contending. They need to focus on the development part of “draft and develop” if the Rockies want to have a chance of making the playoffs anytime in the next five years.
Free agency officially started Thursday night and the Rockies have trimmed their 40-man roster to 32 to prepare for offseason moves. While I hope the Rockies bring in some free agents, they need to declutter position players as well.
Losing Cron’s homers is going to hurt, but his power and decent fielding at first make him a valuable trade chip for what the Rockies really need: pitching. Starters and relievers. It’s hard to get free agent pitchers to come to Colorado, but the Rockies need to do it anyway. They also need to make some trades to bring in some arms.
The Rockies signed Cron to a 2-year, $14.5 million year entering the 2022 season and he’s set to make $7.25 million in 2023. Even at age 33 next season, Cron is the literal definition of bang for any team’s buck. Since the outfield is still too crowded and the Rockies front office has been clear about wanting to bring in a center fielder, maybe the Rockies could throw in Grichuk, who will be in the last year of his 5-year $52 million contract he signed with Toronto and is set to make $10.33 million in 2023. Grichuk is a good outfielder and hit 19 homers in 2022. Cron and Grichuk, 31, can add power, fielding, and DH options for many teams that are looking for just that.
Cron had a tremendous first half in 2022. He hit 21 homers and slashed .298/.350/.552 before the All-Star break, earning his first All-Star selection. After the break, he hit eight homers and .197/.263/.341. That finish the year could reduce what the Rockies could get in return, but that may be canceled out by his affordable price tag. Grichuk’s 19 homers were his fewest since his second season in the majors in 2015 when he hit 17 (not including 2020), but he still had a slugging percentage of .425 and OPS of .724.
Improving pitching, either starters or relievers or both, is a huge need for most teams. In a recent article identifying the top three needs of each team heading into the offseason, The Athletic listed 26 teams in need of rotation or bullpen help. There’s not enough quality pitching in the MLB, so the Rockies will need to look at free agency, trade, and maybe the Rule 5 Draft, while also continuing to draft and develop to complete the starting rotation and improve the bullpen.
In the past few seasons, the Rockies have held firm at the trade deadline, only to watch players like Trevor Story and Jon Gray walk out the door with only one compensation draft pick to show for it. The time to change that trend is now.
Bill Schmidt needs to trade Cron and Grichuk and try to get some pitchers that can help the team now or in the near future. Equally important, it will open up space for Montero and Toglia to see if they are going to be a key part of that future.
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Heart and Hustle: Blair Calvo Overcomes Health Scare to Finish 2022 in the Arizona Fall League | Rockies Magazine
Blair Calvo is a unique pitcher. And that’s not only because he can hit 98 mph with his fastball. It’s also because he’s managed to make it through a challenging 2022 season that included having a “heart incident” in the middle of a Double-A Hartford Yard Goats game on May 31. He couldn’t catch his breath and his heart was beating really fast. Something was wrong.
He had to go to the hospital where his heart had to be “shocked back into rhythm.” As Rockies Magazine writer Jack Etkin explains, “Calvo was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia, an arrhythmia that occurs when the lower chamber of the heart beats too fast to pump well, and the body doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood.”
At first, Calvo was told he might not be able to play baseball again, but he gradually worked his way back to playing catch and then making nine appearances this Arizona Fall League season. This is a very in-depth feature worth a read, especially about Calvo’s exercise ritual of taking a beta-alanine powder containing caffeine that has now caused him to cut that out and drink only one cup of coffee per day.
Brendon Rodgers and Daniel Bard have both been selected as nominees for the 2022 All-MLB Team, which will be made up of the best player at each position, including DH, the best five starting pitchers, and the best two relievers across MLB. Rodgers, who won the NL Gold Glove this season, is one of eight second basemen nominated, along with Silver Slugger winners Jeff McNeil and Jose Altuve. Bard, who finished the year with 34 saves, a 1.79 ERA, and 0.99 WHIP, is one of 16 reliever candidates. Fans can vote once every 24 hours through Nov. 22 at 3 p.m. MT. Winners will be announced on Dec. 5.
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Arizona Fall League
The Arizona Fall League didn’t end quite the way Rockies RHP prospect Balir Calvo was hoping. When he entered the final Salt River AFL game of the season in the sixth inning on Thursday, the Rafters had a 2-0 lead. He surrender three straight hits, including one double, and gave up a walk, being pulled from the game with a 2-2 tie and Desert Dogs on first and second. Cardinals prospect Tink Hence didn’t fair much better for Salt River, hitting a batter, giving up a double, and allowing a sac fly before ending the inning with the Rafters down 5-2. The only other Rockies prospect to play in the game was catcher Braxton Fullford, who went 1-for-3 in the game. He singled in the third inning and came around to score the final Salt River run of the season. Salt River finished the season in last place (out of six teams) with a 12-18 record, while the Desert Dogs (15-13) are one of three teams to advance to the postseason.
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