Yesterday, reports surfaced that the Rockies are shopping All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon, presumably for rotation help. Now, I was previously seen in these parts advocating for the Rockies to trade Justin Morneau, so I don’t want to get type-cast as the guy who thinks the Rockies should trade away all their All-Stars, but seriously: the Rockies should trade Charlie Blackmon.
Blackmon made the All-Star team after posting an .828 OPS in the first half (including 1.074 in the first month of the year), with passable defense in center and the outfield corners. But he also had a second half OPS last season of .698, and struck out just two fewer times in the second half in more than one hundred fewer at-bats. Rockies players obviously have home/road splits that are wider than normal, but Blackmon got on base at a clip of just .270 outside of the thin air last year.
Last year was Blackmon’s first season with more than 300 plate appearances, so there is no real way to talk about his 2015 or beyond with any certainty. He’s probably not as good as his first half, and not as bad as his second. But it would be no great shock if Blackmon never makes an All-Star team again, and that’s the point: the Rockies are actually trying to trade someone at the height of their value.
The Rockies probably would not be able to swing a gigantic return for Blackmon (general managers can use Baseball-Reference too), but right now-for me anyway-the potential return is less important than what the rumors suggest: evidence of a new era in the Colorado Rockies front office. When Jeff Bridich was hired as the team’s first new GM since Clinton was president, it was met with a degree of cynicism, since it was actually just a promotion for Bridich, who has been a part of the front office since 2004. But trading Blackmon would make it clear that the front office has a new direction.
The Rockies don’t trade guys at the height of their value to get pieces they need, they hold onto guys far longer than they should. Take Michael Cuddyer as a recent example: Cuddyer was excellent in Colorado, on a good contract, but for terrible teams. Understandably, reports would circulate every trade deadline about teams calling the Rockies with regard to Cuddyer, followed by the Rockies making it clear they had no intention of trading him. This offseason, Bridich is considered very lucky for getting a first round pick for Cuddyer signing with the Mets in free agency. Blackmon, given his youth and cost is surely even more appealing to both the Rockies and the league than Cuddyer has been recently. He is also fairly marketable for the team, given his trademark beard and pretty good nickname (beards and nicknames: the path into America’s heart is not a particularly winding one, at times) (he is also good at Twitter), which makes the reports of his availability even more encouraging.
Blackmon leaving would also open up more at bats for 2014’s real breakout outfielder, Corey Dickerson, and 2010 first round pick, Kyle Parker (who has succeeded at every minor-league level but struggled to find plate appearances in a crowded outfield after a September call-up last season), especially if Carlos Gonzalez continues to struggle with his health. It would create an interesting problem in centerfield, where Blackmon shared time last season with Drew Stubbs, who still struggles to hit right handed pitching. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have speculated that the Rockies could bring in Colby Rasmus to platoon with Stubbs in center. Signing a buy-low candidate like Rasmus, and bringing him into an offensive environment that will assist a potential rebound makes so much sense I doubt the Rockies would ever do it. Or at least, last year’s Rockies.Next post: Nationals Seize Scherzer in Search of Surer Future
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