May 20, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Rex Brothers (49) throws in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Colorado Rockies stashed Rex Brothers at AAA Albuquerque to start this season, but considering injury and suspension problems elsewhere in the big leagues, should the club look to ship him out of town?
Two pieces of news caught my eye today as I scanned the web for baseball-related stories: Atlanta Braves’ left-handed reliever Andrew McKirahan has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 80 games because of a PED violation, and the New York Mets on Sunday lost both Jerry Blevins (left-handed reliever) and Travis d’Arnaud (catcher) for at least several weeks due to bone fractures.
Well isn’t that interesting. If there’s two things the Rockies have a surplus of, it’s… left-handed relievers and catchers.
Before any hypothetical trades get made, though, the pertinent information that got the wheels turning in my head. First, from MLB.com’s Mark Bowman on McKirahan’s suspension and the Braves’ barren bullpen:
"Atlanta is currently quite thin in the bullpen. Shae Simmons underwent Tommy John surgery in February and fellow right-hander Arodys Vizcaino received an 80-game suspension earlier this month because he tested positive for a banned substance (stanozolol). Hart said the club would search externally for a left-handed reliever. But with attractive options likely limited at this point of the season, lefty relievers Ian Thomas or Donnie Veal might soon get promoted from Gwinnett’s roster.“You’d like to think you have an endless supply of pitching, but at some point, all of this cuts into your depth,” Hart said. “Getting that depth piece will be the challenge for us in the short term.”"
Next, from MLB.com’s Joe Trezza, on Blevins’ forearm fracture:
"Alderson said Alex Torres will be asked to handle more high-leverage duty against left-handed hitters. Torres replaced Blevins on Sunday and threw a wild pitch before striking out lefty-swinging Christian Yelich to end the threat.But Alderson hinted that Torres, who has struggled since being acquired from San Diego, may not represent a long-term solution.“We have a couple of lefties still at Las Vegas that are potential replacements,” Alderson said. “Although we lost Jerry, we still have far more depth than we had in, say, mid-Spring Training, because the development of a couple of guys and the fact that we still have Alex Torres.”"
And finally, from CBS Sports’ R.J. White, on d’Arnaud’s fracture:
"Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud was removed from Sunday’s game against the Marlins after being hit by a pitch. He was then diagnosed with a fractured right hand after being examined, WOR 710 AM reports. d’Arnaud was struck on the hand, and after being checked out by the trainer, he came out of the game… d’Arnaud was replaced by Anthony Recker after suffering the injury. Recker could be in for extended playing time while d’Arnaud is on the shelf, or the team could promote Kevin Plawecki to serve as the team’s regular catcher and keep Recker in a reserve role."
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Both the Braves and Mets are playing well, and both are now missing key left-handed relievers (and for the Mets, a catcher) for the next month or two while each club figures out if they are a contender or a pretender.
Obviously, as I’ve written about here, the Rockies have three big league-capable (well, when Rex Brothers is on) left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster.
I can’t imagine Christian Friedrich or Boone Logan (especially with his contract) being shipped out to Atlanta or New York (but, what the hell do I know?), but I’m interested in the possibility of Brothers.
Perhaps either the Braves or Mets could use a lefty like Brothers in the bullpen, and the Mets could certainly be interested in Wilin Rosario behind the plate, if only for a few weeks, thereafter putting him in a platoon or bench role.
The biggest downside to this purely speculative trade talk, though, is the return the Rockies would get for Brothers. At present, it’s nothing.
The way he’s throwing the ball in Albuquerque (six hits, six walks, and a wild pitch in just four innings) doesn’t indicate he’d be ready to contribute to a big league bullpen any time soon. And any trade involving Brothers wouldn’t get back players of consequence in the area the Rockies need the most help: pitching depth.
Simply put, he’s not valuable enough to use as a bargaining chip to get back any solid big leaguer or intriguing prospect. But that all could change if he starts throwing the ball better in Albuquerque.
Surely, this speculative exercise was likely one couched in futility, and the chances of the Rockies trading a struggling Rex Brothers are probably slim to none considering his value has cratered. But, if he can find his lost touch just a little bit over the next few weeks, certainly some front offices would call general manager Jeff Bridich to discuss Brothers’ availability this summer.
Nevertheless, it’s worth watching the rest of baseball as injuries take place, especially among catchers (for Rosario), and relievers (considering the Rockies’ bullpen depth), to see if Bridich has a little A.J. Preller in him as the summer begins.