The Colorado Rockies’ embattled closer had a great start to the season, and a really, really, crappy last few weeks. It’s time to move him out, one way or another.
The Colorado Rockies made a pretty shrewd offseason move when they signed John Axford this winter; he was the perfect guy on which to take a flyer.
The 32-year-old was coming off a mediocre season split between Cleveland (where he closed for a while) and Pittsburgh (where he was traded for the playoff run) and considering what the Rockies signed him for ($2.6 million), his late-inning work in Denver has been coming pretty cheap.
But, uh, you get what you pay for? As our friends at the Purple Dino Podcast note, Axford has been a special kind of dog crap the last few weeks. In his last 14 appearances, Axford has five blown saves and a 11.12 ERA, a .365 batting average against, and has allowed more than 2.5 runners per inning.
His struggles are all the more in focus considering how dominant he was in the first portion of the season, but come on — how much more do the Rockies really need to use him in the ninth inning before they move along?
Look, there’s two options for John Axford (and, in a totally unrelated area but along the same principle, for Kyle Kendrick): trade him in the next 12 hours, or designate him for assignment on August 1 and move along from Axford to Tommy Kahnle, or Scott Oberg, or Brooks Brown (who’s now on a rehab assignment at AAA Albuquerque) or literally anybody else at closer.
It’s no slight to Ax. He’s a 32-year old veteran, and a guy like him gets how the game works. He’s just been crappy for a few weeks now, and a team that’s already crappy has no use for a crappy 32-year old closer.
If you’re going to see crappy — especially 9th-inning-blown-save crappy — I’d rather see it from a young guy who’s still learning the game and could be really good in another year or two (Kahnle? Oberg?) than a 32-year old who wasn’t going to have a long-term future in Denver no matter how well he did this year.
So, yeah. If the Rockies can’t magically find a trading partner for him in the next few hours, and get something (it’s not going to be anything good), it’d behoove the Rockies to designate Ax for assignment over the weekend, recall Brown, Oberg, Kenny Roberts, or even guys like Simon Castro and Nelson Gonzalez who have been throwing the ball well in AAA Albuquerque, and move on to the rebuild.
The Axford move (and any hypothetical Kendrick DFA) are much smaller pieces of the same pie as a hypothetical Carlos Gonzalez trade: blow it up. Don’t go halfway on the rebuild. You’ve traded Tulo. You should trade CarGo. It’s time to send Axford packing, too. You’re a bad club; what’s the difference between 89 and 99 losses?
If the Rockies are going to blow saves in the 9th inning, I’d rather see Kahnle and Oberg and guys who might factor into the future do it — and learn from it — than a 32-year old hired gun who won’t be here next year, anyways. Start the rebuild, fellas.
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