This week, the Rockies traveled to San Diego and Arizona and managed to win a game at each stop, going 2-4. The end of July brings the trade deadline and MLB has seen several big moves already with Hanley Ramirez joining the Dodgers, Ichiro going to the Yankees, and Cole Hamels inking a $140 million extension with the Phillies. The Rockies are clearly sellers and have already moved the disappointing Jeremy Guthrie with more trades surely on the way. This week, we discuss a few of the less obvious trade targets and if they should stay or go.
True or false: the Rockies should trade Matt Belisle.
Brendan:False. Belisle is worth more to the Rockies than what he would bring back in a trade. For a historically terrible pitching staff, Belisle has put up outstanding numbers: 2.25 ERA (207 ERA+), 1.212 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 2.5 WAR (!). With a stat line like that, it is no wonder that teams have been inquiring about his availability. He has been the most consistent guy out of the bullpen for the Rockies and would be first in line to take over for Betancourt should he be traded. Furthermore, he is only 32 years old and is under contract through next season with an option for 2014. Belisle has been the best reliever for the Rockies all year, and is an essential ingredient to the rare Rockies win that cannot be easily replaced.
Kevin: They should trade him. His stock is about as high as it has ever been, and the Rockies need to capitalize on that. The only thing keeping his value from being higher is that, despite being the best pitcher in the bullpen, he doesn’t close games. Either way, late-game relievers are traditionally overvalued at the trade deadline, and the Rockies should try to take advantage of the and pick up a nice piece or two in exchange.
Ned:False. The bullpen has been outstanding this year. In fact, it is the only thing that will keep this team from smashing the 1962 Mets 120 game loss record. Matt Belisle and John Roenicke have been the two workhorses of the bullpen this season, especially with the planned heavy use of the pen resulting from the four man rotation program. Bullpen pitchers, other than “shut-down” closers, rarely have much trade value. Matt Belisle might be an exception to this general rule, but he probably wouldn’t command equivalent or greater value than what he delivers to the team. With the tenuous state of the team’s overall pitching, the GM should not trade the anchor of an exceptional ‘pen in exchange for prospects. But wait, isn’t this the same genius who traded our all-star pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez, for four prospects last year? How has that worked out, Mr. O’Dowd? Am I the only fan who is tired of always “building for the future” by trading-off proven players, especially pitchers, for prospects? The Rockies have not been able to build from their own farm system thanks to over a decade of failed drafts. When a team can’t build from its own farm system, it needs to try to build from other teams’ farm systems. Does this sound like the Rockies?
Keep or trade: D.J. LeMahieu?
Brendan:Trade him. I first heard Joel Klatt suggest that the Rockies should look to move LeMahieu on his morning radio show, and I think it makes a lot of sense. LeMahieu has shown flashes of potential, but he is an asset that needs to be cashed in sooner rather than later. The emergence of Josh Rutledge and the continued development of Trevor Story make LeMahieu expendable and enables the Rockies to deal from a position of strength. LeMahieu is not a good enough prospect to yield much in return by himself, but including him in a trade with an established player (like Cuddy or Betancourt) could entice the other team to let go of a better prospect. Second base has been a long standing problem for the Rockies, and it is strange to suggest that a prospect like LeMahieu should be traded, but his value is likely maxed out right now and the Rockies should act swiftly.
Kevin:Might as well keep him. He won’t return anything of value (neither Casey Weathers nor Ian Stewart are valuable pieces), and he fits a nice role as a back-up player shifting between Colorado Springs and Denver. His hitting needs to improve, but his glove work has been very good. I just don’t see the Rockies getting anything in return for him that would make it worth trading his (limited) value.
Ned:LeMahieu has proven himself as a nice player—he is a professional defensive player, and has a promising bat. But, he has no trade value during the summer, and therefore won’t be traded. In answer to the question, in the unlikely event the Rockies could get a legitimate prospect in return, they should move him. The team seems to have a surplus of quality middle infielder prospects, and LeMahieu wouldn’t be missed. Rutledge has looked very, very good at short. In fact, if Rutledge is a good as he has looked over the past several weeks, it is time to move Tulo to third base. While such a move would be controversial, I envision Tulo as a third baseman having Mike Schmidt’s power and Brooks Robinson’s defense. He would not need to range as far at third which should give his leg muscles a break. Tulo’s career could be lengthened and his leg health benefitted significantly by the move to third.
Stay or go: Ramon Hernandez?
Brendan:He should go. For all of his defensive sort comings, Wilin Rosario is going to be the #1 catcher for the Rockies for the next few years and the Rockies no longer need Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez was useful at the beginning of the year to take some of the pressure off Rosario, but his extended stay on the DL forced the Rockies hand with Rosario, and he has proven to be a gifted offensive player that is here to stay. Mentoring young players is not a good enough reason to hold onto a veteran like Hernandez (Jamie Moyer?!) and backup catchers are always available. The Rockies are fortunate that Hernandez is healthy in time for the deadline, and if there is any interest, he should be moved before the inevitable return trip to the DL.
Kevin: Don’t trade Hernandez. Again, his production this year has probably reduced his value to the point where the Rockies would not get anything worthwhile for him. He needs to stay because he serves a good role as a mentor for Wilin Rosario, who still has a ways to go as a receiver, but has shown enough promise to be the everyday catcher. Hernandez will be making $3.2 million next year, which is not a very big impact on the payroll. He can be a very good backup catcher. I suspect that a healthy year next year would improve his production, and he’d be a much better trade piece next year after another season of mentoring Rosario. Keep him around.
Ned: When the Rox signed Hernandez in the off season, it looked like an essential acquisition after they traded Chris Iannetta for batting practice pitcher Tyler Chatwood. The plan was that Hernandez would handle the bulk of the catching duties, hit at little better than Iannetta, and tutor young catching prospect Wilin Rosario. Injuries to Hernandez changed that plan dramatically. Looking at the season, the Hernandez injuries forced the team to use the young Rosario whose sieve-like catching further weakened the poor pitching. This year’s team is a disaster, and it will not recover from its death spiral. I vote for selling Hernandez (if there is anyone who is interested in buying) and continue to limp along with possibly the worst receiver in the major leagues.
Have a different take? Let us know in the comments below.
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