Baseball’s trade deadline approaches quickly and deals have already been made. The traditional trade deadline is Thursday, and every team in baseball, not just the buyers and sellers, are affected by the event.
The Colorado Rockies are most definitely not selling, seeing as how the team is right in the middle of a very tight divisional race. But that does not guarantee that the team is buying either. As a matter of fact the Rockies have never been buyers. In three playoff seasons one could argue that not a single trade was made that heavily influenced Colorado’s outcome.
1995 - Lost LDS 3-1 to Atlanta. On July 31st, 1995 the Rockies acquired veteran pitcher Bret Saberhagen from the Mets. The Rockies “rented” Saberhagen for just nine starts, finishing with a record of 2-1 and an ERA over six. The Mets piece of that trade was 25-year-old pitcher Juan Acevedo. Acevedo only pitched in 25 games for the Mets, two of which were starts. He would eventually pitch for eight total teams, and returned to Colorado for part of the 2001 season.
2007 - Lost the World Series 4-0 to Boston. Is a trade really worth mentioning if the Rockies piece of it had an ERA over seven? (That is not a typo; ERA over SEVEN)
2009 – Lost LDS 3-1 to Philadelphia. The Rockies traded for three different bullpen pieces right before the deadline: Raphael Betancourt, Jose Contreras, and Joe Beimel. Betancourt is still with the team, and when the 38-year-old is healthy, he is a solid closer. Beimel stuck around for 2010, while Contreras moved on to the Phillies who won the World Series after rolling through the Rockies. Of the four players the Rockies sent away in those three trades only one, Ryan Mattheus, has made it to the majors. Mattheus, as of today, has appeared in 116 games out of the bullpen for Washington.
By far and away 2009 was the most productive year for Rockies deadline deals. But they were moves that solidified the ‘pen. When was the last time Hollywood made a movie about a seventh inning left-handed specialist that pitched to two batters an appearance and only had a one or two pitch arsenal? Let’s see a trade with some fireworks, like Frank Robinson to Baltimore circa 1966 (sorry to Milt Pappas if that is still an open wound).
The most obvious trades have already occurred; the Cubs are trading anyone whose contract expires at the end of the year and is worth prospects. Then the Dodgers, who are always buying, acquired Ricky Nolasco. What is the cost of these midseason trades? Well just last week the Yankees traded away $17 million and a player to be named later for Alfonso Soriano. For the Dodgers Nolasco cost three pitching prospects, none over the age of 26. Back to the Cubs and their stockpiling of prospects. When the Rangers won the bidding war for now former Cub Matt Garza it cost them their former #1 prospect Mike Olt, who was a 1st round draft choice in 2010. That wasn’t all: other brand new North-Siders include Justin Grimm (24 years old), C.J. Edwards (21 years old), and possibly two more players to be named later.
If you don’t get the point, the Rockies just don’t see the worth in letting go potential for a player that may only be with the team for one run at the playoffs, and why would they? The Rockies are building a farm system and trying to do things the right way (reference Cardinals, St. Louis). The majority of the Rockies’ best and most promising farm talent is at the AA level and lower. But one name you may know is Johnathan Gray, the Rockies first round draft choice (3rd overall) just a few weeks ago. Gray is the Rockies #1 prospect and consistently throws 100 mph on his fastball; he is not going anywhere.
As a matter of fact four of the Rockies top five prospects were all first round draft choices in the MLB amateur draft. Perhaps the most tradable prospects in the Rockies top ten would be Corey Dickerson and Trevor Story. Dickerson, an eighth round draft choice by the Rockies in 2010, got himself to the big leagues early by hitting .371 with AAA Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League. Dan O’Dowd has already said Dickerson will not be traded despite a traffic jam in the outfield for Colorado with two of the three starters being All-Stars.
That leaves Trevor Story. First of all who is Trevor Story? The shortstop is the Rockies seventh best prospect according to MLB.com. He was the 45th overall draft choice in 2011, and led the Class-A Asheville Tourists to a South Atlantic League championship last season. Despite Story’s current struggles offensively, hitting just .214 with the California League’s Modesto Nuts at the Class-A Advanced level, he is still very highly regarded as a prospect.
What makes a prospect like Story so tradable? Well in this case there is a road block by the name of Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo is under contract until 2020, and has made it public he wants to play all his games with one team. That is perhaps the only reason to trade the Texas native. But when you consider the injuries to Tulo, it is not too far-fetched that he could be “Wally Pipped” by Story one day.
Unfortunately the strategy of hoarding prospects does not help players like Todd Helton, since most of the Rockies top prospects are projected to reach the Big Leagues in 2015. If the “Toddfather” were still around it would be at the ripe old age of 41. Which is all the reason more for those current Rockies on the 25 man roster to get hot and get hot soon.