Remember during the offseason when Bill Schmidt promised that the Rockies would not block their young players? “[W]e’re going to give our guys opportunities,” he told David Laurila in early December.
That sounds like a general manager committed to letting the kids play.
Since then, however, the Rockies apparently have had a change of heart, going on to sign a number of free agents to one-year contracts. It’s an old strategy that sometimes works (e.g., CJ Cron) but often does not (e.g., Matt Kemp, Matt Adams, Taylor Motter, and Chris Owings).
Let’s save the free-agent pitchers for another day — most have not yet had enough opportunities to show what they bring to the Rockies, and pitching raises a very different set of issues. But it’s worth considering what the free-agent position players have contributed so far.
All of this comes with the caveat that it’s early, and we’re still in small-sample-size territory, so, clearly, this could change.
During the offseason, the Rockies signed three position players, each with a wildly different salary:
- Harold Castro — 1 year @ $1.3 million
- Mike Moustakas — 1 year @ $720,000
- Jurickson Profar — 1 year @ $7.75 million ($1 million bonus with 400 PAs)
Moustakas, then, has the least expensive contract, and the amount is not insignificant, while Profar is the player in whom the Rockies have invested the most.
With this in mind, consider what these players have brought in terms of offense and defense. (All data is current as of the end of the Phillies series and does not reflect the first game of the Cleveland series.)
The Rockies made clear during the offseason that they were looking for improved offense in 2023. Here’s what the free-agent signings have produced to this point, according to FanGraphs:
So far, Profar has seen the most playing time — by a lot. He’s had just over twice the plate appearances of Castro and Moustakas. His ability as a switch hitter made him especially attractive to the Rockies; however, at this point, his versatility has not emerged as an asset.
(That Castro has had almost as many PAs as Moustakas came as a surprise.)
None of these players have been stellar at the plate. That said, Moustakas is clearly having the better year offensively with the highest wRC+ of the three. Even then, however, he is well below league average. He’s doing this at a fraction of the cost.
Castro’s offensive numbers, however, fall significantly below those of his free-agent teammates. A player with a -37 wRC+ probably does not belong on an MLB team.
Just to reiterate, none of these players has made a significant impact in terms of offense.
The Rockies were also interested in Profar for his defense, and he has seen more defensive innings — by a lot — than have Moustakas or Castro. (This is no surprise.)
Plus, he’s made some pretty terrific catches, like this one against the Phillies on Friday:
Impressive, indeed. But is it enough?
Here are the numbers, again as shown by FanGraphs.
Surprisingly enough, Harold Castro and Mike Moustakas have been the more effective defenders though they have seen few defensive innings.
Jurickson Profar, however, has -2 DRS, and his Def is -2.3. In other words, to this point, he has not been an effective defender, and he has had opportunities.
Clearly, this could change. Presently, however, it is difficult to argue that the Rockies’ free-agent position player signings have made positive contributions to the team or that this has been a wise use of team resources, both in terms of money and player development.
On Monday, the Rockies made official something initially reported by Black Street Banter:
We have it on good authority, once again, that there is gonna be a callup tomorrow.— Blake Street Banter ⚾ (@blakestbanter) April 24, 2023
Welcome Brenton Doyle to the purple pinstripes this week!
In 12 games at AAABQ, Doyle has 1 2B, 5 HR, a 1.036 OBP and he brings his 2022 GG with him.
Let the kids play!#Rockies pic.twitter.com/ArwJkEkbtD
Good for Brenton Doyle!
Now the Rockies need to play him (as they did Monday night) rather than give in to the temptation to play Harold Castro — a point Kenneth Weber made yesterday.
The Colorado Rockies are not good — there’s no way to “That’s baseball!” away a 7-17 record. Moreover, as Kenneth explained, “The stop-gap veteran formula clearly is not working, yet the organization seems dedicated to it.”
At least on the position-player side, the data is clear. The Rockies need to let the kids play — and not do to Brenton Doyle what they did to Nolan Jones last weekend by calling him up and then not giving him any playing time.
BTW, did you know that Jones continues to absolutely set Albuquerque on fire? Here he is last Thursday:
And his slashline? It’s .359/.447/.781 with an OPS of 1.229.
The yard-sale philosophy of signing inexpensive free agents on a one-year contract isn’t working.
Rockies, we’re begging you: Let the kids play.
We learned last week that a coalition headed by the Miller family and Larry H. Miller Co. is attempting to bring an MLB team to Salt Lake City. Charlie Monfort, speaking at an event on the University of Utah campus, expressed his support. “I would love nothing more than to see another team here in Salt Lake City,” Monfort said. “It’s a baseball town.” He also recommended a name for the proposed franchise. Take a guess, and then read the article to see if you got it right.
Thomas Harding spoke with Justin Lawrence about his sweeper, a pitch MLB has only begun to recognize. Lawrence asked Brittany Haby to request that MLB reclassify his pitch a sweeper, and MLB complied. “I just thought it would look cool on the board,” Lawrence said. Harding goes on to define the pitch and describe its evolution in Lawrence’s arsenal.
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