To put the 2014 July 31st trade market into perspective, you could note any of a number of things. You could look at the fact that the Milwaukee Brewers got two minor league players for Gerardo Parra or the fact that the San Diego Padres got two pieces for Chris Denorfia and safely conclude what we had known for some time:
If you were a seller in this market full of buyers, you stood a good chance of getting great value for even the most mediocre trade pieces.
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The Colorado Rockies think they are close to winning soon. Like, in 2015 soon. A team that has the worst record in the National League and is starting to gain momentum as a joke nationally, and they still look at this roster and think: “Nah…we’re good.” Even in a trade market that was decidedly advantageous to sellers, and even with a number of players whom it would have made total sense to trade.
For example, the Rockies had legit interest in closer LaTroy Hawkins. That interest came from the Pittsburgh Pirates in addition to ‘five or six’ other teams, if various rumors were to be believed. A trade for Hawkins would hardly guarantee some huge haul, but there was legitimately value to be acquired for him.
Translation: the Rockies had a chance to get something, anything really, for a closer who is going to be 42 next season and is incapable of missing bats or striking people out in the closer’s role. In the opinion of the author, Hawkins should wear a flashing red sign around his neck that says “This won’t last,” in reference to his success in limited exposure this season.
Did the Rockies make a deadline deal for Hawkins?
Next we have starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa. A fan favorite and a franchise favorite, his situation is a bit more tricky. The Rockies aren’t sure if they can find another guy to tackle the challenges of Coors Field quite like their longtime stud, and so they are more inclined to keep him.
The argument for trading him, of course, was the aforementioned seller’s market. Teams were getting paid a premium for their players and especially their starting pitchers.
De La Rosa, who has a FIP this season of 4.32 but has shot his value through the roof with strong performances in July, was never going to yield a bigger return than he could have on Thursday. The alternative is to keep him, issue him a qualifying offer, and try to extend him as he enters his age 34 season.
So did the Rockies make a deadline deal for their lefty starting pitcher?
For a third and final example, look at Drew Stubbs. In many ways you could argue that the following sentence stands on its own as a reason to say the Rockies should have dealt him:
Stubbs is one of six outfielders whom the Rockies would like to keep on the big league roster.
Like Hawkins and like De La Rosa, there was legit interest in Stubbs. Contending teams, the Seattle Mariners for certain, were ready to trade for Stubbs.
By dealing the athletic Stubbs, the Rockies could have sold high on a promising but inconsistent outfielder with laughable platoon splits who strikes out too much but is having a great season. Truly, a classic “sell high” situation.
Did the Rockies make that trade deadline deal?
I would love to see the Rockies win in 2015. I am all for that if it is a possibility. But you know what? These moves still could have been made.
The closer’s role is a fickle animal, with guys falling apart at a moment’s notice. The flip side of that fact is that teams can replace closers on the cheap relative to other spots on the roster. The Rockies could have explored any number of alternatives while getting a piece or two for Hawkins. Such a trade would do little to prevent them from winning next year.
A team that has the worst record in the National League and is starting to gain momentum as a joke nationally, and they still look at this roster and think: “Nah…we’re good.”
How about De La Rosa? All I will say is this: I have a feeling that we are headed for a painful season or a number of painful seasons with De La Rosa, in which we wonder what happened to him and ultimately regret the fact that this front office failed to plan for his regression as a pitcher in his age 34, 35, or whatever other seasons.
In this market, with his recent performance, and with the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, and Kansas City Royals legitimately interested, they could have sold high or at least explored the freaking possibility of doing so. They didn’t. I hope I am wrong about all of this, because De La Rosa is one of my favorite Rockies, but I have a bad feeling that the Rockies will regret this one.
Finally, there is Stubbs. Like the “This won’t last” sign for Hawkins, Stubbs ought to have a “Candidate for Immediate Regression” sign around his neck. The track record of inconsistency is there, but teams were willing to overlook that in a deadline deal. Instead the Rockies chose to keep one of their six outfielders, just like they will try to choose to keep Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer. Poor Corey Dickerson…
Truly, the Rockies’ front office thinks they can trot out this exact same team in 2015, with maybe a player added here or there, and win. That included these very tradeable players.
That is a scary and depressing thought indeed, but hey, maybe they’ll end up being right. What better option do we have than to cheer for them and hope that is the case?