Apr 30, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher Rex Brothers against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
By optioning Rex Brothers to the minor leagues, the Rockies haven’t made themselves contenders, but they are signaling a new way of doing business.
With Rex Brothers optioned to the minor leagues in advance of Opening Day, and the Rockies purchasing the contract of Rafael Betancourt to add to the 40-man roster, a lot of Rockies fans probably jumped for joy.
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When Rex Brothers is on, he can dominate hitters and miss bats.
See: well, his career before 2014.
And when Rex Brothers is bad, he sometimes can’t even throw the ball 60 feet, 6 inches, let alone get an out.
So when Brothers struggled in several straight appearances at the end of Spring Training, everyone got nervous about whether 2014 Rex was back and we were going to have to sit through junk again.
Fortunately, we won’t have to find out, with Brothers heading to AAA, Betancourt apparently making the roster, and the bullpen picture getting more clear by the day.
Aug 5, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher Rex Brothers (49) reacts during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Cubs won 6-5 in twelve innings. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
My initial reaction to Brothers’ demotion isn’t anything against the man, himself.
He’s downright dominant when he’s on and the Rockies will need a good Rex Brothers at some point again soon, so management obviously ought not burn any bridges.
But I do think, in the most esoteric sense, Brothers’ demotion signals a (kind of) new era upon the Colorado Rockies.
Say what you want about general manager Jeff Bridich and his staff, but he’s now done two specific things very differently than his predecessors:
First, he released Jhoulys Chacin.
Then, he demoted Rex Brothers.
Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett almost certainly would have let each guy take their lumps early in the season in the hopes that they’d “figure it out,” or maybe because they’d been in the majors for a while and so “they earned it.”
We all know what would’ve happened with both if that were the case this year; Chacin would’ve gone 1-5 with a 6.50 ERA in his first seven starts before getting the axe, and Brothers would’ve walked 10 guys in his first 10 innings pitched before being shipped to Albuquerque.
Unlike O’Dowd, though, Bridich understands that April losses count just as much as September losses, so you might as well put your best possible team on the field every single day. Chacin, and now Brothers, would not have been able to be that for the Rockies.
Don’t get it twisted – I don’t believe Brothers’ demotion signals the Rockies are in “win-now” mode, because they are not. They will suck this year. They can’t get by the Dodgers, Padres, or Giants.
But it does signal that Bridich is starting to treat this like a playoff team, even if he doesn’t have the pieces to get there now. And that should make Rockies fans happy (you know, as happy as you can get with a team that still could lose 90 games).
Brandon Barnes sent down, too: Brandon Barnes was also optioned today along with Brothers. As our staff writer Andrew Dill notes, it could very well be to get more consistent at-bats while working on his new leg kick.
Congratulations to Rafael Ynoa: I know I’m (jokingly) biased towards Rafael Ynoa and tease about starting his fan club, but honestly, congratulations to Ynoa after being told he will make the 25-man roster.
He outplayed Charlie Culberson last fall when Ynoa got a cup of coffee with the club, and he outplayed Culberson again this spring. Ynoa has earned the spot.
The Rockies have an off day tomorrow, so wherever Ynoa is in Phoenix right now, I hope he’s having a beer (not too many! We’ll need you in a week!) and feeling good about himself for earning a roster spot for his first Major League Opening Day.