After Saturday’s historic game that saw the Colorado Rockies losing to the Los Angeles Angels 25-1 (with an unforgettable third inning), it seemed like the events of the day had run their course.
That was not the case.
At 10:30 that night, the Rockies announced they had made a trade.
The Rockies announced today that they have acquired Minor League RHP Connor Van Scoyoc from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for INF Mike Moustakas. https://t.co/QEUrgmU2bP— Rockies Club Information (@RockiesClubInfo) June 25, 2023
Read more about the deal here, but in retrospect, what seemed at the beginning of the season like the Rockies repeating their history of signing an inexpensive veteran has proved a good decision on Bill Schmidt’s part.
How did Mike Moustakas become a Rockie?
He accepted an invite to Spring Training coming off some challenging years with the Cincinnati Reds that involved injuries and, ultimately, being DFA’d.
The Rockies signed Moustakas for the league minimum with the Reds on the hook for the remainder of his $22 million salary as well as the $4 million buyout of his $20 million club option for 2024. (As a reminder, in 2019, he signed a four-year, $64 million contract.) Given that his 12-year career has resulted in a slash line of .247/.308/.434 and six seasons of at least 20 homers, it seemed like a safe bet on the Rockies’ part.
Moustakas reported to camp slimmer, healthier, eager to show that his MLB career was not yet finished. While there were concerns he would take playing time from younger players, the Rockies’ logic was clear. In him, they saw a lefty bat who could provide depth at as a DH as well as play first and third. Although Moustakas had not spent much time at first, the Rockies believed his experience at third would prove an easy transition.
Back in April, Moustakas said of the signing that he was grateful to continue his career in Colorado. “The city’s phenomenal. The fans are great. It’s a great team, a great clubhouse. Everybody in this organization has been unbelievable, not just to me but to my family as well, so it’a a pretty special place.”
How did he do with the Rockies?
He was probably better than you think.
Moustakas appeared in 47 games and had 136 plate appearances. During that time, he slashed .270/.360/.435 with four home runs. He had a wRC+ of 101, which ties him with Randal Grichuk for fourth-highest on the Rockies roster. His BB% of 12.5% led the Rockies. In fact, you can see him here walking in a run during the Cincinnati Reds series.
Defensively, Moustakas had a DRS of 2 at first base and a -1 at third, so he was, overall, a defensive positive and adapted well to first base
In short, he was a plus player, but not remarkably so. However, he did show he was able to stay healthy.
His other value came, however, in the clubhouse. Younger players routinely pointed to Moustakas for helping them make adjustments.
Before the Saturday blowout, Moustakas delivered the trade news to his soon-to-be-former teammates in a meeting Bud Black described as “emotional.”
“He was a great sounding board for his teammates, a great sounding board for the coaches,” Black said.
“He’s a ball player, and he wants to continue to help.”
It was one of those trades that involves a player simply moving his things from one clubhouse to another. One Saturday night, Moustakas was wearing a Rockies uniform (#11); on Sunday morning, he looked as if he’d always been a Los Angeles Angel (#8).
For his part, Moustakas, while excited for the future, described the move as “bittersweet.” “They gave me an opportunity to come back to Major League Baseball this year, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.” He added, “I’ve made some really good friends, and I’m going to miss those guys a lot.”
A lot of hugs for Mike Moustakas as he was traded across the field to the #Angels. Man, did he make a huge impact on this org in a short amount of time. Moose told us this morning how much he loved his time with the #Rockies as you seeing him telling Bud Black, “thank you.” pic.twitter.com/H30a4nJWfD— Kelsey Wingert-Linch (@KelsWingert) June 25, 2023
He also praised the Rockies organization and predicted exciting days in the future.
“Obviously, we didn’t play as well as we should have and wanted to, but that’s a great group of guys, and it’s going to be a good team here in the future. So I’m excited to see what they’re capable of here pretty soon.”
Ironically, Moustakas found himself on the losing team both Saturday and Sunday.
By Monday, however, he seemed to have found his stride. Moustakas got his first hit as an Angel and was at the plate for the wild pitch that brought Mike Trout home with the winning run against the White Sox.
Moustakas joins former Rockies Carlos Estévez and Tyler Anderson on an Angels team trying to make the playoffs.
What’s in it for the Rockies, then?
Think about it. The Rockies paid the league minimum in signing Moustakas, got slightly above replacement-level value for him as well as a clubhouse presence, and were able to trade for a young pitcher, Conor Van Scoyoc. (Black said on Sunday the Rockies had been watching Van Scoyoc since he was in high school and through his minor-league career.)
Ironically enough, like Moustakas, Van Scoyoc had his own experience of simply walking across the field to change teams.
While Mike Moustakas switched clubhouses in Denver, I watched Connor Van Scoyoc walk across the Avista Stadium concourse to join his new team, the Spokane Indians.— Doug Taylor (@TrulyDougTaylor) June 25, 2023
Van Scoyoc was scheduled to pitch for the Tri-City Dust Devils against Spokane tomorrow. A bizarre scene. https://t.co/Mr2dlBbo65
Whether Van Scoyoc will work out we don’t yet know. But we do know that the Rockies need pitching. In signing and then trading Mike Moustakas, the Rockies made a cost-effective move that perhaps better prepares them for the future.
Give Bill Schmidt credit for this one.
Yanquiel Fernandez is headed to Seattle for the Futures Game.
Yanquiel Fernandez is repping the Rockies in the @SIRIUSXM #FuturesGame!— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) June 26, 2023
Fernandez began the season with Fresno (A), was promoted to Spokane (High-A) and is currently playing for the Hartford Yard Goats (AA). pic.twitter.com/plUJugFZKR
Coors Field Attendance
According to ESPN, 1,110,657 have attended games at Coors Field in 2023 (the end of the Angels’ series and the Rockies’ 38th home game). That number ranks 14th in baseball. (Last week, the average Coors Field game attendance was 29,227.)
As a benchmark, in 2022, the average game attendance at Coors Field was 32,467.
If there’s an exciting team in the National League right now, it’s surely the Arizona Diamondbacks, a young team leading the NL West. Patrick Saunders discusses decisions the D-back made to put them in their current position. They were bold in making moves (e.g., DFAing Madison Bumgarner and trading Dalton Varsho); they cultivated an effective farm system; they’ve developed talent (e.g., Corbin Carroll who signed at extension at the beginning of the season); and they’ve spent wisely. So far, it’s paying off.
David Laurila’s weekly catch-call column is a highlight of my baseball reading week. This issue, however, is especially interesting due to the inclusion of comments from two Rockies. The first is Ryan McMahon who describes one of his favorite home runs — a walk-off against the Dodgers back in 2018. The second comes from Charlie Blackmon who discusses his approach to analytics and his district of park-adjusted data.
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