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Grading the Colorado Rockies at the trade deadline

Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Okay, Rockies fans, today’s the day.

After spending the last week refreshing MLB Trade Rumors and checking X/Twitter, this afternoon after 4:00, baseball fans will have a clearer sense of their team’s plans going forward. We can anticipate the expected (e.g., Jack Flaherty and Michael Lorenzen will finish the season on different teams); the unexpected (e.g., Max Scherzer is a Texas Ranger?); and the hellish (e.g., the Los Angeles Dodgers tried to acquire Nolan Arenado and may still get Justin Verlander?).

The trade deadline promises to be, well, a lot — and we wouldn’t miss a minute of it.

As for the Colorado Rockies, they know what they need to do: acquire pitching and move players who will be free agents at the end of the season. They’re off to a promising start after trading Mike Moustakas, Pierce Johnson, CJ Cron, and Randal Grichuk.

Now they need to finish the job.

First, let’s grade how they’ve done so far, and I’ll say this at the outset, anything that moves a soon-to-be free agent and brings back pitching gets a high score from me.

  • Mike Moustakas to the Angels for Connor Van Scoyoc (RHP)

I’ve written before about this trade, and my thinking has not changed: In Moustakas, the Rockies paid the league minimum for a veteran player. Most of us probably expected Moustakas to be sidelined by injuries or DFA’d. Instead, the Rockies parleyed him into a trade for a 23-year-old, High-A pitcher.

With the Dust Devils, Van Scoyoc had a 2.76 ERA in 62 innings and a 51.2% GB% — and we know how the Rockies feel about ground-ball pitchers.

Since joining the Rockies Van Scoyoc pitched 24.1 innings with Spokane for an ERA of 3.33. He gave up one home run, walked five, and struck out 22. On July 28, Van Scoyoc pitched his first game for the Yard Goats, which did not go well (eight earned runs on eight hits and three walks). But the jump to Double-A is generally a tough one, so let’s expect things to even out.

Grade: A

  • Pierce Johnson to Atlanta for Victor Vodnik (RHP) and Tanner Gordon (RHP) — Vodnik, a 14th-round pick in the 2018 draft, started this season in Double-A where he earned a 3.10 ERA in 40 23 innings. His strikeout rate is good (32.6%); his walk rate is less good (14.5%); and the Rockies have sent him to Hartford. In 3.0 innings, he’s struck out four, walked one, and given up one hit.

As for Gordon, a 2019, sixth-round pick, he’s moved between Double-A and Triple-A earning a 5.86 ERA. He’s got a K% of 20.5% and a BB% of 6.8%. (See him in action here.) He made his Yard Goats debut on Sunday, allowing two runs on five hits across 5.2 innings. He walked two and struck out six with the Yard Goats winning 5-2.

Note to file away: Both players will have to be added to the 40-man roster or be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft.

Grade: A

  • CJ Cron and Randal Grichuk to the Angels for Jake Madden (RHP) and Mason Albright (LHP) — The Rockies continued to accumulate young pitchers with Sunday’s trade.

A fourth-round pick, Madden played in High-A, earning a 5.46 ERA over 64 13 innings. The walk rate (12.9%) is not good, but the stuff is for real. Also, he’s only 21. (See more here.)

As for Albright, the lefty has a 3.62 ERA over 79 23 innings in High-A. He has a 25.7% K% and only a 6.0% BB%. Although he has four pitches, they are all still developing. (See him in action here.)

Grade: A

So far, not bad, Bill Schmidt. Not bad at all.

Now let’s consider what the Rockies need to do — and I write this knowing that my column may well be obsolete before it publishes, which will be fine. (We’re all friends here, but not enough that I’m willing to sit up all night updating this if any new trades drop.)

The Rockies need to move the following players:

  • Brad Hand — He has probably not had the season he’d hoped for. In 35.0 innings, he’s earned an ERA of 4.63, which is above his career average of 3.67, but it’s safe to assume the Coors Field is responsible for some of that inflation. As a lefty with playoff experience, the odds are good that contending teams are interested.
  • Jurickson Profar — Like Hand, this has probably not been the reset season he’d hoped for (78 wRC+), and his defense has not been good (-9 DRS). However, he has fairly consistently gotten on base and might be valuable to a team looking for a switch hitter.
  • Brent Suter — What a season Suter has had — and with half his games at Coors Field (2.85 ERA in 47.1 innings). Patrick Saunder reported that the Rockies had spoken with Suter’s people about an extension, but so far, there’s been no action on that front. If Suter plans to leave, the Rockies should make the most of this opportunity.

I do not expect the Rockies to trade Charlie Blackmon, Elias Díaz, Ryan McMahon, or Daniel Bard.

But, it’s the Rockies, so who knows?

I predicted the Rockies would make six trades. So far, they’ve done four. I’m going to stand by that. And if I’m wrong, I am confident you’ll let me know about it in the comments.

Okay trade deadline, we’re rested, caffeinated, and ready. Let’s do this.


Coors Field Attendance

According to ESPN, 1,665,684 have attended games at Coors Field in 2023 (the end of the Athletics series, their 51st home game). That number ranks 12th in baseball. The average game attendance was 32,660.

(Last week, the average Coors Field game attendance was 32,313.)

As a benchmark, in 2022, the average game attendance at Coors Field was 32,467.


Rockies’ Nolan Jones hits balls harder, farther than anyone in MLB. Now he’s just got to take the next step | Denver Post ($)

As Patrick Saunders reports, Nolan Jones is having himself a season. “Entering the weekend, Jones had hit nine home runs with an average exit velocity of 109.3 mph and an average distance of 438 feet,” Saunders writes. “Both of those measures ranked No. 1 in the majors among players who’d hit at least eight home runs.” The next step in his game will involve reducing strikeouts and becoming more consistent.

The constant evolution and determination of Rockies pitching prospect Dugan Darnell | Rockies Blog

Reliever Dugan Darnell is working his way through the Rockies system. “He’s got wipeout stuff,” Rockies Pitching Coordinator Doug Linton said. “He’s got a splitter that can get a punchout anytime he wants to. It’s a plus pitch. It’s filthy.” Jack Etkin outlines Darnell’s winding path through professional baseball.

It turns out that catchers are rarely traded because of the the relationships they build with a pitching staff. Matt Martell describes the chemistry that develops between pitchers and catchers. Notable are appearances by old friend Jonathan Lucroy Adam Ottavino.


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