Opening Day is April 3 against the Brewers and it can’t come soon enough. To help cope with the pain of a baseball free life, Rox Pile will be counting down the 100 greatest Colorado Rockies in franchise history.
This list isn’t completely arbitrary but it does not rely strictly on numbers. Other factors will include major contributions, team culture, fan appreciation and overall importance to the club. This order is in no way definitive. It is meant to spark conversation. Let us know your thoughts at @RoxpileFS on Twitter. Let the countdown begin! Let baseball start soon.
95. Jason Hammel
It’s hard to think about the trade the Rockies made for Jeremy Guthrie after the 2011 season. They let go one of their best starters in Jason Hammel and not to mention a stabilizing force in the bullpen in Matt Lindstrom. To be fair, Hammel was coming off the worst performance of his Rockies career that year when he went 7-13, the first time he had a losing record with the club. But he still pitched over 170 innings and had a better ERA than the year before. It was way to much to give up, especially for Gutherie coming off a 9-17 record in 2011. The Rockies most likely made this trade to have Gutherie eat up massive innings. (He pitched 208 innings in 2011.)
It went down as one of the worst trades in franchise history. As a sign of things to come, in his Orioles debut, Hammel took a no-hit bid in the 8th. Gutherie was the highlight of the worst pitching season in LoDo in 2012. He pitched 90.2 innings with a 6.35 ERA and a 3-9 record before being shipped off to Kanas City where he eventually won a title.
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The trade wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t give up so much. Hammel signed with the Rockies in one of the best trades the club has ever made. In 2009 he was traded from Tampa Bay for prospect Aneury Rodriguez who never pitched for the Rays. To be fair again, Hammel was pretty pedestrian with the Rays pitching only 78.1 innings in the year the Rays reached the World Series. He did not pitch in the 2008 postseason.
The next year was a completely different story for Hammel. He pitched almost a hundred more innings than the year before and spotted a 4.33 ERA, a 10-8 record and a chance to pitch in the first home game of the NLDS in 2009 against the Phillies. Only behind Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Cook. Hammel started that game three well but ultimately gave up four runs in a one-run loss. He might have not been the best pitcher of the Rockies ever had but he gave a semblance and a hope that he could round out the rotation and make the pitching a compliment, not a detriment to their team. Not completely because of his trade, but that changed after Hammel left.
Hammel went on to have success with his best season of his career coming his first year with the Cubs in 2014. After a trade to the Oakland Athletics he returned with the Cubs where he won 15 games with a 3.83 ERA for the team who won the 2016 World Series. (Note: He did not pitch in the 2016 postseason.) Hammel has pitched in five different postseasons with four different teams. His 4.0 WAR with the Rockies didn’t go unnoticed and he brings back fond memories of when the Rockies were competing in the postseason.
The rumor mill points to Hammel being a good fit to return to the Orioles now that he is a free agent. It wouldn’t hurt for the Rockies to consider him for their rotation even if it is to mentor the Rockies’ young pitchers on what it takes to reach the postseason.