clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The case for signing Charlie Blackmon to a one-year extension

Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, August 15, 2023

It’s happening.

The Colorado Rockies are letting the kids play just as they’re coming out from under some veteran contracts, which includes seeing the end of Charlie Blackmon’s six-year, $108 million deal. (This year, he’s making $15 million.) In 2024, the Rockies can reset and begin planning in earnest for their next window.

And I’m here to make the case that the Rockies should bring back Blackmon for one more season.

Here’s why.

He’ll provide leadership

I’m as excited as everyone else about the potential of this young team. Sean Bouchard? Brenton Doyle? Nolan Jones? Elehuris Montero? Michael Toglia? Ezequiel Tovar? Play ‘em all, every day!

But, it turns out, the Rockies — at least the position players — are suddenly a very young team.

And any young group benefits from veteran leadership.

Here’s rookie Nolan Jones, one of the best players on the Rockies’ roster this year, describing the importance of his relationship with Blackmon:

“I got here and he kind of took me under my wing a little bit. I get to watch and learn from him. Charlie Blackmon, the same way. Chuck has been in the league forever and he’s had a ton of success. I think every single pitcher that gets on the mound, Chuck has something for me, so I’m able to pick his brain.”

Budding center fielder Brenton Doyle also cited Blackmon as a veteran mentor who has given him lots of tips on how to conquer the vast Coors Field outfield. Here’s what he told Sam Bradfield about the advice he’s gotten:

“I think one of the biggest thing was ‘sometimes when the balls are in the gaps in normal places, you can kind of take them lightly, but you can’t do that at Coors. Balls travel a little bit more, and the gaps are a little bit bigger, so you have to make sure you’re not coasting the ball. If you think you have it, make sure you get to a spot and start coasting towards the ball and make sure you bust your butt to it.”

Blackmon, then, is acting as a player-coach/mentor for younger players finding their way around. That’s no small thing.

New York Mets v Colorado Rockies Photo by Rachel O’Driscoll/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images

It’s a role Blackmon has embraced. As Danielle Allentuck wrote back in spring training:

Thirteen years later, as he prepares for the first official day of spring training on Monday, things are a little bit different for him. He’s done and seen nearly everything, from playoff appearances to All-Star games to award nominations. He’s the leader of the team, and the one now intimating the next generation. He’s a lock, obviously, for opening day and ranks in the top 10 in franchise history in nearly every eligible category.

Moreover, Blackmon provides a link between the Rockies’ past and its future — and those connections matter. Through understanding the past, we better understand the present and the future.

(To be clear, in the same article Jones stressed that Kris Bryant had been an effective mentor to him, which is good, but Bryant lacks the history that is in Blackmon’s Rockies DNA.)

One other thing: While I’m addressing the issue of mentoring younger players, I also want to take on some of the “he’s-learning-to-fly-on-an-airplane” discourse that sometimes circulates here on Purple Row.

Being a professional athlete is complicated. Consider this interview with Joey Votto about how he travels with the Cincinnati Reds. His process is meticulous and complicated. A professional baseball player heading out on a week-long roadtrip is not like the average person getting on a plane to go on vacation. The athlete is doing a job that requires peak physical performance and receives considerable public scrutiny. In other words, it’s a complicated but necessary part of the job of being a professional athlete.

Charlie Blackmon, among other things, provides a model for younger players as they develop this part of their routines.

To be clear, I’ve never traveled with the Rockies, but I do know just from the time I’ve spent covering the team that the logistics of being an MLB player are substantial. Learning and keeping the schedule of a professional athlete is not instinctive. When Bud Black and Bill Schmidt refer to “flying on the plane,” I suspect that’s shorthand for learning those skills.

He’s still an above-replacement-level player

Blackmon remains a solid player, if not quite his former self. Obviously, we’ve seen less of him given his hand injury on June 10, but he’s still accumulated 0.1 fWAR, despite only having 242 plate appearances. His 96 wRC+ is slightly below replacement level, but it’s also the third-highest ranking on the Rockies’ current roster.

Moreover, he’d fit in well by continuing his current role as a designated hitter who provides occasional outfield relief.

Presumably, he would receive a salary significantly lower than his current $15 million, but it’s easy to see how this would be money well spent.

He’s popular with fans

This clearly shouldn’t be the guiding principle in making an extension like this, but for the front office, it matters, especially during another rebuilding season. In the same way that Blackmon would provide some stability for his teammates, he would do the same for fans. Dick Monfort probably thought that Kris Bryant would become the “face of the franchise.” As it turns out, that duty has fallen to Charlie Blackmon until one of the youngsters assumes the mantle.

Go out to Coors Field, and when Charlie Blackmon is introduced in the lineup or the opening chords of “My Love” play over the speakers, fans become engaged. That matters.

When this season began, I could not feature myself making this particular argument, but now, it seems like a sensible way forward.


Joey Votto asks a question

Speaking of the Reds’ first baseman, he posed this question on Twitter last week, which I pass along to you.


Coors Field Attendance

According to ESPN, 1,778,909 have attended games at Coors Field in 2023 through the Rockies’ 55th home game). That number ranks 13th in baseball. The average game attendance was 32,343.

(Two weeks ago, the average Coors Field game attendance was 32,660.)

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


Faster pace has stars recharged, playing more games |

Anthony Castrovince looks at the positive impact of the pitch clock in its initial season. In addition to speeding up games, players are spending less time on their feet and are able to play in more games. “Any time you’re knocking 20, 30 minutes off every day of being out on the field,” said Matt Olson. “It’s only going to help you as far as rest-and-recovery-wise.” Castrovince also examines questions about the pitch clock’s effect on pitcher injuries. (So far, the data does not support reports of increased injuries.)

How Rockies’ Austin Gomber turned around his season to become team’s best starter | Denver Post ($)

If there’s been a positive twist in the Rockies’ 2023 season, it’s the emergence of Austin Gomber after getting off to a rough start. He acknowledges that talking about the Arenado trade helped. “I felt a lot of pressure to bring value to the trade. I had never really talked to anybody about it. I had never been traded before, but I think there is a difference to just being traded, compared to being traded for a franchise icon,” Gomber said. In addition, he’s been working on some mechanical tweaks as well. For a pitching staff decimated by injuries, Gomber’s emergenc has been essential.


Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!