When news broke on Monday that the Colorado Rockies were sending Garrett Hampson down to Triple-A Albuquerque, fans and media alike gathered in suspense, wondering if this was finally the time we were going to see Brendan Rodgers get the call-up to the Majors.
Instead, we were given Pat Valaika, a story that many have read and don’t really wish to read again. In 2017, “Patty Barrels” was a fan and clubhouse favorite when he came onto the scene and delivered 13 home runs and 40 RBI in spot duty for the Colorado Rockies and tied for the Major League lead with four pinch-hit home runs. However, he quickly fell off the face of the earth with an abysmal .156 batting average in 2018 and seemingly has fallen even further with an ugly .069 average so far this year (this is after his two-strikeout, 0-for-2 performance Tuesday in Boston after the call-up).
Now although we are likely to see this play out for at least a few more games, because Valaika was hitting the ball so well in Albuquerque lately, there really is not much hope here. I mean, is Valaika suddenly going to be a better option than either Hampson or McMahon at second base?
Most likely not.
Going into action on Friday in Philadelphia, the Rockies are 20-22, and today sit 7.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division lead. It may seem like a big margin, but you have to remember that we are still in mid-May … and this team still has the talent to win a division title once they put it all together.
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However, if the Rockies want to get serious about catching the Dodgers and contending for the NL West title this year, they need to get their best players on the field in their regular lineup. This includes giving Brendan Rodgers the second base job and letting him run with it.
I know this debate has great points coming from each side. Some don’t want Rodgers to fall into the realm that the likes of Raimel Tapia and Ryan McMahon have been in the last few years — and would rather him continue to get everyday at bats down in Albuquerque. And others feel that Rodgers is ready, he’s better than the Rockies’ current options at second base, and that he can’t do much more at the minor league level.
I agree with both sides here, but fall more onto the side of a call-up would be the better choice here. The reason is, Colorado has had very little productivity from their second basemen this year, and should not be married to the likes of McMahon or Hampson starting at that position going forward if they are not going to produce,
Although Rodgers was drafted as a shortstop and has played most of his minor league career there, his spot with the Rockies ultimately looks to be at second, with Trevor Story cementing himself as a franchise cornerstone at shortstop. But could Story’s potential injury on Wednesday night open the door for Rodgers?
The opportunity for Rodgers to find himself a spot in the 2019 Rockies lineup opened tremendously when DJ LeMahieu left via free agency to sign with the New York Yankees this past winter. Yet, a slow start to spring training for Rodgers, coupled with McMahon hitting the cover off the ball during that same time, made the Rockies’ decision easy at the time to let Rodgers start the year in Albuquerque and go with McMahon has their Opening Day starter at second base.
The problem here is, Ryan McMahon has regressed into the same Ryan McMahon we have seen for the past two seasons here in Colorado — an average hitter who comes up clutch at times, but at other times is just invisible. After being the Rockies MVP of Spring Training, McMahon has a .242 batting average with three home runs and 14 RBI in 2019. Zooming out a bit, in 299 career at-bats, McMahon has a .231 average with only eight home runs. The production the Rockies are getting from McMahon does not warrant their apparent marriage to him as their starting second baseman.
Colorado already made a move to get Hampson some more time down in Triple-A, and although they likely won’t be doing the same with McMahon, it might not be the worst idea to let him come off the bench for a bit or possibly get into the mix in the outfield or first base — and at least give Rodgers the chance to prove he is the better player.
With already one of the best lineups in all of the National League — with Arenado, Story, Dahl, Blackmon, Tapia and Wolters all hitting well — the Rockies could cement their status as an NL West contender for the rest of the 2019 season by adding one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball to their regular lineup.
Brendan Rodgers can make a difference right now for the Rockies. It’s time for Colorado to make the bold move and call up their top prospect.
Editor’s Note: Want to read the other side of the argument? Here’s why Rodgers shouldn’t be called up right now.