Colorado Rockies and the Carlos Gonzalez Conundrum
By Kevin Henry
The Colorado Rockies face a crossroads when it comes to Carlos Gonzalez. We’ve discussed some of the issues in a previous article that you can read here. However, CarGo’s recent struggles have amplified the thought process behind the All-Star outfielder, the rest of this season and beyond.
Gonzalez was given a night off on Wednesday in the series finale in Pittsburgh. Raimel Tapia, hitting .105 coming into the game, started in CarGo’s place in right field. The move paid off as Tapia went 4-for-4 in the contest, marking his first ever professional four-hit game. The time spent out of the lineup was well deserved and much needed as CarGo entered the last game of the current road trip hitting 0-for-20 in the five games away from Coors Field. That’s part of a 5-for-55 stretch that CarGo has endured since his last two-hit game on May 25 at Philadelphia.
It’s no longer a question of what can be done about CarGo’s slump. It’s a matter of how much leeway Colorado manager Bud Black is going to give Gonzalez to break out of it.
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Black has already declared that CarGo would not start when the Rockies return home on Thursday night to open a series against the San Francisco Giants. With Gerardo Parra on the disabled list and David Dahl still not close to returning to the Rockies, Tapia could well get another start Thursday night.
Entering the season, with Gonzalez in the final season of a seven-year, $80 million contract, there was a thought that CarGo could be traded at the deadline if he didn’t re-sign with the Rockies in the offseason. However, contract talks stalled and that was the end of the conversation.
In hindsight, those stalled talks may be a good thing for the Rockies. Now 31 and mired in a massive slump for what has felt like the entire season, the days of CarGo in a Rockies uniform may be numbered. It’s almost certain that a long-term contract won’t be in the cards when discussions begin again.
But what will Colorado do with Gonzalez in this current situation? Despite being just one of five players to hit 200 homers in a Rockies uniform, CarGo’s trade value has plummeted throughout the season. Now with a .215 average and 51 strikeouts in 223 at-bats, other teams would likely low ball an offer to the Rockies for CarGo’s services. Knowing Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich’s past comments on how he values Gonzalez, they would likely never even be considered.
If he can’t be traded, Gonzalez will force the Rockies into a decision for the rest of the season. Do they insert him into the lineup and hope that he snaps out of his funk or do they use him sparingly and hope that another Colorado outfielder, like Tapia, step up and pick up the slack in the lineup? It’s a decision that Black will have to make on an almost daily basis.
Next: 5 guarantees for the rest of Colorado's season
The Rockies have posted a National League-high 41 wins heading into Wednesday night. They have been able to overcome CarGo’s slump (as well as Trevor Story’s) thus far. However, with the playoff race ramping up as every day passes, Colorado will have to make a decision about a player who has done so much for them in the past but is currently not producing like the team needs if it’s going to be playing in October.