This has been an up-and-down season for the Rockies, who began 3-12, climbed all the way to 40-34 and have since nosedived to 46-50. The multiple rotten stretches the Rockies have stumbled through this year may prevent them from earning a third straight playoff berth, but for now, they’re a still-manageable 3 1/2 games out of wild-card position in the jam-packed National League. However, that doesn’t seem to be of much solace to general manager Jeff Bridich, who admitted to Thomas Harding of MLB.com that the Rockies are playing “really bad baseball.” Bridich added that the Rockies’ horrid performance over the past several weeks could complicate matters leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
“It all needs addressing,” Bridich said of his roster, though he doesn’t see “any quick fixes” and suggested he’s not gearing up to purchase outside help right now. While Harding notes Bridich bought at the previous two deadlines, which helped the team get to the postseason in each case, the GM was frank in saying this year “feels different” compared to those seasons.
“Just watch us play,” Bridich said. “We get a good outing from our starter and we’ll find a way to lose that game through offense or the bullpen or defense. We’ll get a lot of offense one game and our bullpen will come blow it or defense will blow it, or combine. There’s a different way each night, it seems. When that’s your reality in all parts of your team, it’s a tough go to fix all that in one small time period of the year.”
Problems are indeed prevalent for the Rockies. Despite having to pitch half its season at Coors Field, Colorado’s staff was legitimately effective last year. Among their starters, Kyle Freeland finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting, German Marquez was a strikeout machine, and Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray and Antonio Senzatela offered fine complementary performances. This year, with the exception of Gray, everyone from that group has taken noticeable steps back. Meanwhile, the Rockies’ bullpen has felt the absence of Adam Ottavino, who signed with the Yankees in the offseason, and fellow veterans Wade Davis and Seunghwan Oh (whose season is now over because of an elbow injury) have been dreadful. The bullpen’s lone bright spot over a large sample of work has been Scott Oberg, who has posted a 1.35 ERA/3.06 FIP in 46 2/3 frames.
As Bridich suggested, the Rockies’ position player group has also fallen flat. Despite the presences of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and David Dahl, the unit’s the fifth worst in the league by fWAR (5.2). Colorado has scored the majors’ fourth-most runs (527), but according to park-adjusted metric wRC+ (85), only five offenses have been worse. In the field, the club has been run-of-the-mill at best in errors (15th), Defensive Runs Saved (20th) and Ultimate Zone Rating (22nd).
Thanks to the Rockies’ team-wide issues, they may be more inclined to sell or stand pat than buy in the next two weeks. The trouble is, if the team wants to ship players out, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of realistic trade chips. Oh, catcher Chris Iannetta and infielder Mark Reynolds are the Rockies’ only impending free agents, but there’s little to no trade value in any of those cases. While the Rockies would likely jump at the chance to get any of the big contracts of Davis, Ian Desmond, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw off their books, that’s not happening. Daniel Murphy has been hot of late, though he’s a soon-to-be 35-year-old with almost $18MM in guaranteed money left on his contract through 2020.
On the other hand, Story – who has two years of arbitration eligibility left after this one – would bring back a haul in a trade. But it’s almost impossible to imagine the Rockies dealing the 26-year-old this summer, especially considering they’d like to extend him. Gray and Oberg, who also come with arbitration control through 2021, would be easier to give up than Story. However, it would take a “truly special” return for the team to trade either of those right-handers, according to Harding.