The Rockies don’t appear to be willing to make a major trade at Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, but interest could pick up in a smaller deal for closer LaTroy Hawkins.
The Rockies won the first two games against the Pirates this weekend by big margins, so Hawkins was not forced into a save opportunity. However, the Pirates are believed to be interested in the 41-year-old right-hander. With the Rockies requiring players that can help them at the start of next season and always searching for young pitching under club control, a deal could be difficult but not impossible.
It would be a case of the rich — in terms of power arms to protect a lead — getting richer. They have righties Jeanmar Gomez and Jared Hughes, lefties Justin Wilson and Tony Watson and righty closer Mark Melancon. And Melancon has proven adept in closing situations recently.
If the Pirates want to beef up their bullpen, it would be in middle relief or possible insurance in case Melancon struggles, is ailing or is unavailable on a given day. Hawkins, who can pitch in any situation and tends to become more effective as the season progresses, could be a fit.
Hawkins could be an upgrade over righty Ernesto Frieri, who has struggled since coming in a trade with the Angels for righty Jason Grilli.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is quite familiar with Hawkins’ ability and leadership skills. Hawkins was part of the bullpen when the Rockies went to the 2007 World Series under Hurdle.
A trade could be a boon for Hawkins. Although he has been effective this year, the struggles of the Rockies have reduced his opportunities to pitch. He has 37 appearances so far. In his career, he had 980 regular-season appearances going into Sunday. Getting t 1,000 is a goal for a solid pitcher who has never been to the All-Star Game. The opportunities can be more frequent with a contender.
But Hawkins enjoys Colorado, and the Rockies believe he has value even if the team doesn’t win this year. The Rockies’ young pitchers have struggled but some have bright futures, and the club believes Hawkins’ work ethic and willingness to lend experience are valuable even if it doesn’t show up in the younger pitchers immediately.
– Thomas Harding
If the day ends in “y,” you can count on a bunch of Rockies injury updates.
Rockies.com will have stories on shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s dry needling procedure scheduled for Monday in Philadelphia, as well as lefty Boone Logan and first baseman Justin Morneau beginning injury rehab assignments Monday. Here’s more:
— The Rockies went into Sunday down two outfielders because Carlos Gonzalez rolled his right ankle at home Saturday, and was still sore, and Drew Stubbs was still recovering from turning his left foot awkwardly while hitting a home run in Saturday night’s 8-1 victory over the Pirates. Both players were in uniform Sunday enjoying Family Day activities. Gonzalez’s ankle was taped heavily. Stubbs was walking normally, but it wasn’t clear if he could handle quick-burst activity.
— Righty Jordan Lyles struck out four and gave up no runs, three hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings on Saturday for Class A Modesto in his first injury rehab start since suffering a broken left hand on June 4.
— Righty Christian Bergman, out since suffering a broken left hand when hit by a line drive on June 20, make his first injury rehab start Tuesday at Double-A Tulsa against Springfield. Bergman is scheduled for about 70 pitches. Because Springfield is a Cardinals affiliate, the game will be played under National League rules, so Bergman will test the injury batting. Bergman said the hand is still sore when performing some movements, but he’s fine catching return throws from the catcher and none of the soreness is debilitating.
— Righty Jhoulys Chacin, out with a muscle strain and a slight labrum tear in his throwing shoulder, reported feeling fine after three plasma-rich platelet treatments. He’ll be checked Monday, and if all goes well he’ll begin a strengthening program, followed by a throwing program. Chacin has said he wants to return by season’s end, but it’s doubtful he can return.
— Thomas Harding
Rockies Tulowitzki does not have no-trade clause; talks are intriguing if not imminent (Also, a look at many possible Rockies deals)
Note to fans: I am having trouble with links in this post, so I’ll do it this way:
I refer to Joel Sherman’s exclusive in the New York Post: http://nypost.com/2014/07/24/mets-to-rockies-lets-talk-tulowitzki-cargo-trades/
And it would be good to review what I wrote yesterday: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/col/colorado-rockies-arent-in-active-talks-about-drew-stubbs?ymd=20140724&content_id=86148486&vkey=news_col
Thanks much. Now, for my blog post …
Contrary to what has been repeated in many reports, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki does not have a no-trade clause — at least not at this point — in his contract.
Going strictly by the contract language (and consulting with sources with direct knowledge of the contract), if traded, Tulowitzki would receive a $2 million bonus from the club he would land with, and only then would a no-trade provision go into effect. That is in addition to the five years and $104 million, plus incentives and escalators, left on his deal.
Now, from the standpoint that Tulowitzki is one of the game’s most-respected players and someone who has been through thick and a lot of thin with the Rockies, it stands to reason that if such a decision were made the club would at least listen to Tulowitzki’s preferences — especially if there were places he didn’t want to go. However, he does not have that right within his contract, and he is not a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the Majors with the last five with the team).
All that said, the chances are low that Tulowitzki would be dealt by next Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. Tulowitzki has said all along he doesn’t expect a deadline deal, and the more likely scenario is he would meet with his family and club officials after the season and get an idea of the team’s direction before deciding whether to press for a trade. Sources around the Majors say Rockies owner Dick Monfort’s position with them is the same as it is publicly — he is not seeking a deadline deal, and there is no guarantee he wants to make a deal even after the season.
Tulowitzki’s being on the 15-day disabled list with a hip flexor strain also complicates the chance of a deal now.
By the way, Major League sources say the Rockies aren’t anywhere close to dealing outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, a sublime talent who has dealt with injuries the last two years.
Given that, current trade rumors are to be seen as laying the groundwork for talks after the season.
Those talks could become really interesting. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote today that the Mets are interested in being players if the Rockies ever decided to deal Tulo or CarGo. Sherman names pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, plus outfielder Brandon Nimmo and infielder Dilson Herrera as players the Rockies like. Given the Rockies’ perpetual need and desire for young pitching, the names Syndergaard and Matz would make it hard for club officials to dismiss if talks were to become serious.
Of course, anything the Mets do is related to the Yankees. Sherman points out that Tulo’s love for Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop who must be replaced, and the fact the Rockies like the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, righty Luis Severino. And the Cardinals have been rumored as a possible trading partner since last winter.
In other developments:
–The same article by Sherman points out that the Rockies have had interest in Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and notes the Rockies have pieces the Yankees want – lefty starters Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson, and catcher Wilin Rosario, who could preserve his bat and mitigate his defensive issues by being a designated hitter or playing another position. But we are told that the Rockies aren’t looking to deal Rosario before Thursday’s deadline.
But expect Rosario to be an offseason topic of conversation. The Rockies have been sticking with him, believing his power hitting can make up for defense that has been a work in progress ever since he was promoted from Double-A in 2011. However, the Rockies may be forced to re-think.
The pitching staff will continue to be young. Left-hander Tyler Matzek and right-handers such as Eddie Butler and Jon Gray (Matzek and Butler debuted this year, and Gray is on the radar) will be in the rotation sooner than later. Righties Jhoulys Chacin and Jordan Lyles have been around, but are in their 20s.
It might be time for a veteran catcher, or one with frontline all-around ability who is special at calling games, to trim the learning curve for the pitchers. Two examples come to mind: 1) Late in his career, Pudge Rodriguez went to the Marlins and later to the Tigers, teams that didn’t have recent histories of winning. He made a major difference to those young staffs, and the result was a World Series win wit the Marlins and a World Series appearance with the Tigers. 2) It’s hard to quantify but easy to appreciate the impact Russell Martin had last year with the Pirates, who ended a 20-year postseason drought with pitchers who needed help reaching their potential.
–The Rockies are in a quandary when it comes to dealing their own pitching. They want young pitching under club control, but what if the best bargaining chips are their own desirable pitchers.
The Rockies are listening to trade offers, but the price they’ve set with the Orioles shows that they’ll take only the cream of another team’s crop. But even if they receive pitchers with bright futures, is there any guarantee they’re going to have the present that De La Rosa has?
De La Rosa has been by far the Rockies’ best pitcher at Coors Field, and whether he qualifies as the best pitcher in club history is a growing debate. Dude is 42-14 at Coors Field. And he likes pitching there. After seeing top prospects — lefty Drew Pomeranz, now with the Athletics, is a clear example — flame out at Coors, who’s to say anyone else’s prospects are going to make it?
Maybe the Rockies take the plunge. Or maybe they are better off retaining De La Rosa, who is in the final year of his contract. The $11 million qualifying offer the Rockies would need to make to preserve the right to compensation in case3 he left is $3 million more than he is making. That could give them another year with De La Rosa, or it could be the basis for a longer-term deal for a pitcher who wants to be here.
–Everyone says the Rockies need starting pitching. Heck, the Rockies say it. That being the case, it’s puzzling to see lefty Brett Anderson’s name in possible trade reports, although teams would be sensible to check on his availability.
Anderson missed 16 starts with a broken left index finger, and injuries have been an issue throughout his career. But let’s look at his two starts since coming off the disabled list: 1) Clearly rusty and still with little experience at Coors Field, he gave up five runs in the first inning against the Twins at home in the final game before the All-Star break. But he got through six with just one additional run. 2) At Pittsburgh, lacking his best stuff, Anderson pitched with savvy and professionalism and held a lineup for a contending club to one run in seven innings.
Once again, do you trade this top-end ability for guys whose best may or may not arrive at all or may or may not arrive at Coors Field?
Of course, there is a money issue. Anderson has a $12 million club option for 2015, or a $1.5 million buyout. If the Rockies believe that they’re a good team that has been ruined by injuries, it stands to reason that they pay the money and hope to be healthy next season.
–Well, we’ve laid out how the Rockies are leaning against dealing Tulo and CarGo, are likely to wait until after the season to address the catching situation, and have plenty of reasons not to deal De La Rosa or Anderson. So where do they get the young pitching they crave?
They’ll listen when teams discuss outfielder Drew Stubbs. The Mariners are the hot rumor. Also, the Rockies will listen to offers for righty pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. But there will be debate about how much a team is willing to give up for Stubbs, whose home/road splits and low on-base percentage history are concerning, and Hawkins, who is fit and effective but also 41.
Still, being in a pennant race makes giving up valuable pitching prospects sound like a better idea. So we’ll see. If Stubbs or Hawkins don’t bring offers of top-level prospects, the Rockies still must listen. This year’s injuries exposed a startling lack of starting depth, and they have to get it from somewhere.
— Thomas Harding
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said his left thigh felt the same Sunday as it did Saturday night, when he suffered a cramp in the fourth inning and had to leave the 3-2 loss to the Pirates. And the news wasn’t much better when manager Walt Weiss ran down his injury list Sunday, before the R0ckies’ attempt to avoid being swept by the Pirates.
Tulowitzki was on the lineup as a possible pinch-hitter, but Weiss didn’t see him as an option.
“He’s sore,” Weiss said. “I still consider him day-to-day, but he’s sore. It could be a couple or three days. We’ll monitor it and just check in with him hourly, but I’m expecting it to be another day or two.”
— First baseman Justin Morneau missed his third straight day with neck stiffness, and Weiss admitted he’s worried “a little bit. He’s made some improvement but still not enough to be out there. Anytime a guy is not able to play in two, three, four days, you start to get concerned.”
— The stiff neck that lefty Boone Logan is suffering from also is an issue. It’s not clear if he’ll be available Sunday. “He’s still questionable,” Weiss said.
There was surprise good news. All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon turned his left ankle in a scary fashion Saturday night when he lined into a double play to end the 11th inning. X-rays were clean, and Blackmon wasn’t limping on Sunday.
“Charlie surprised me when he showed up this morning,” Weiss said. “I thought he was going to be hurt. I saw a replay, and I also saw a snapshot when he rolled his ankle. It was really ugly.
“He’s mad at me because he isn’t in the lineup, which is a good thing. He tried to make a case for being in that lineup. But I actually made the lineup before he got here and knew he’d be available. He is available and Charlie wants to be there. He’s fought hard to be an everyday player, and those guys want to be out there all the time.”
Friday night marked Rockies utility man Charlie Culberson’s first time at first base, and the 4-2 loss to the Pirates was an eventful night.
Culberson had to leap for an errant Nolan Arenado throw in the seventh — it was an error on the third baseman, but Culberson made sure runs didn’t score — and he stretched very length of his 6-foot frame to catch a wide throw from shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the eighth. The runner was originally ruled safe, but replay overturned that call.
Culberson played well enough to earn another start at third base on Saturday, with Justin Morneau out for a second game with a stiff neck. Not only was it his first time at first in the Majors, it was his first games at first in his entire life.
“It was fun,” Culberson said. “The first time I even took groundballs at first was in Milwaukee, that last game, when Stu [Cole, the infield coach and third-base coach] said, ‘Hey, take some groundballs at first.’ I practiced some at first and I filled in Thursday night because Morneau was not there. I was all right.
“I’m still in the infield. It’s a different glove, but it’s OK.”
A middle infielder by trade, Culberson played 27 games in left field when called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs last season.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss gave outfielder Charlie Blackmon a night off from the starting lineup on Friday, figuring he could use a break after his first trip to the All-Star Game.
Weiss could identify with Blackmon. Weiss represented the Braves in the 1998 All-Star Game at Coors Field — where Weiss had played while with the Rockies. Although the All-Star festivities were not quite as all-consuming as now, going back home for an All-Star Game was a busy time for him.
“My plan coming out of the break was I was going to let Charlie Blackmon catch his breath a little bit,” Weiss said. “It was probably a whirlwind for him.
“I went to an All-Star Game when I was in Atlanta and I was older. But I remember Bobby Cox telling me it was a very eventful three days, four days for me back in Denver. When the second half started I wasn’t in the lineup. I kind of took something from that. It actually was real good timing for me.”
— Thomas Harding
Here’s stuff that isn’t fun, though:
— The Rockies scratched Justin Morneau before Friday night’s game against the Pirates at PNC Park because of neck stiffness. It was a problem during Spring Training and maybe once or twice when the season began, but at least it has not been a chronic issue. It’s Morneau’s return to Pittsburgh, where he spent the final month of last regular season and the National League Wild Card game, and Division Series loss to the Cardinals.
Charlie Culberson replaces Morneau. Culberson has never played at first base in the Majors or the Minors.
— Right-handed prospect Eddie Butler’s injury second rehab start (right rotator cuff strain) was postponed from Thursday to Friday. Butler was in Memphis for the game, but his Colorado Springs Sky Sox didn’t make it because of flight issues. Butler will pitch against the Memphis Redbirds at 6:05 p.m. MT. On Saturday, Butler went four innings and gave up three runs on two hits and two walks, with two strikeouts, while pitching for Class A Modesto on Saturday.
— Outfielder Michael Cuddyer (left shoulder fracture) and right-handed pitcher Christian Bergman (left hand fracture) are on the trip and working out. They’ll have examinations when the team returns to Denver Friday to determine their next rehab steps.
— Right-handed reliever Nick Masset (left patellar tendon strain) faced hitters for 20 pitches on Thursday night at PNC Park. If all goes well, he will be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday.
— Thomas Harding
I reawakened this blog to highlight some of the panel discussions on the MLB Network Roundtable Show for Saturday, May 10. This release has information on experts on what is wrong with the way young pitchers are developed. Here is the release:
Expert Panel Headlines MLB Network Roundtable: The Pitching Dilemma
On Widespread Pitching Injuries in MLB This Season
Bob Costas Moderates Panel Discussion with Dr. David Altchek, Tom House, Jim Kaat,
John Smoltz & Tom Verducci
Exclusive One-on-One Interview with Dr. James Andrews & Costas
Covers the Current Prevalence of Elbow Injuries in Youth Baseball
May 8, 2014 – With 17 Major Leaguers having undergone Tommy John surgery so far this year, MLB Network assembled an expert panel to examine the prevalence of elbow injuries among MLB pitchers and what it means for the future of the game. In MLB Network Roundtable presented by Delta Airlines: The Pitching Dilemma, Bob Costas moderates a roundtable discussion with Hospital for Special Surgery Co-Chief of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service Dr. David Altchek; pitching expert Tom House; Jim Kaat, who pitched more than 4,500 innings and 180 complete games in his 25-year career;1996 NL Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz, who had Tommy John surgery in 2000 and finished his career as the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves; and MLB Network insider Tom Verducci, who has covered the topic extensively.
Costas also hosts an exclusive one-on-one interview with orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, one of the foremost authorities on Tommy John surgery, to discuss his latest research on the biggest risk factors for elbow injuries among young pitchers before they reach the Major League level.
The one-hour program airs this Saturday, May 10, immediately following MLB Network’s 1:00 p.m. ET telecast of the Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers game, and on Sunday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET. A clip from the program is available here and quotes from the program are transcribed below:
Dr. James Andrews on what causes elbow injuries:
“The basic thing that parents out there and coaches and players alike need to know is if you throw with fatigue at a young age – in high school, for example, or youth baseball – you have a 36-to-1 chance of injuring your shoulder or elbow. … Fatigue could be event fatigue, seasonal fatigue or year-round fatigue, so it’s a big problem.”
“What we really found out is that [high school patients] only had one week off each year from competitive baseball and that one week was – you could guess what – between Christmas and New Year’s. So they’re playing year-round baseball – that’s the number one risk factor in youth baseball.”
“If you take a coat hanger and you bend it enough times, what happens? It breaks clean, and then of course that injury didn’t begin with that last bend, it began with all of those multiple, multiple bends. It’s a developmental ligament and the stress that it will take is only about 80-miles per hour, so our high-velocity throwers in high school – unless they’ve got great genetics – are really suspect to really injure their ligament along the way.”
On what can be done to prevent future elbow injuries:
Tom House: “We’re designed to throw on flat ground. … What happens to kids today? They pitch too much year-round and they don’t throw enough. … They only time they throw is in a practice or a game, and the pitcher’s are [throwing] off the mound. … Let them play on flat ground. Let them throw stuff, throw anything. Stay off the mound except for game day, throw as much as you can on flat ground the rest of the time.”
Jim Kaat: “I had pitched nine innings against [Tommy John] in Chicago and the next day I’m at the mound throwing. Not pitching, [but] exercising. He’s running his laps and he said, ‘What are you doing? You pitched nine innings. You can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Well, I throw every day. It will rust out before it will wear out.’ Well, when he had the surgery, he called me and said, ‘Guess what Dr. [Frank] Jobe told me to do?’ He got his wife in the backyard and played catch every day. Throw a little more – I think that’s one thing that’s lacking.”
On the recent increase in Tommy John surgeries:
Dr. Andrews: “It’s really depressing to go in and see the number of high school kids coming in with this injury. At this point in my career I’m probably seeing more high school kids with a ulnar collateral ligament injury than I am with college and pros.”
Dr. David Altchek: “It’s a constant struggle in terms of trying to treat any of these athletes conservatively with this injury.”
John Smoltz: “A lot of those [success rate] numbers that we see are a little skewed – they make you want to grasp something. They want to say, ‘If you’re going to make it to the big leagues, follow these guys who were successful.’ But I had my surgery after 2,400+ innings in the big leagues [and] I knew how to get back to the big leagues. I feel sorry for the Single-A, Double-A players.”
Tom Verducci: “As more people get the surgery – we know that’s happening – that means that more people don’t come back.”
DENVER — Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca has asked to be reassigned and the club granted him the request on Tuesday, MLB.com has learned.
The Rockies have yet to make a formal announcement. Sources with knowledge of the situation said Apodaca, pitching coach since 2003 — the first full year that Clint Hurdle managed the Rockies — made the request. Apodaca, 63, has yet to address the situation.
Apodaca, who remained the Rockies’ pitching coach after Jim Tracy took over during the 2009 season, was in street clothes in the Rockies’ coaching office while bullpen coach Jim Wright oversaw Juan Nicasio facing hitters at Coors Field. Nicasio is coming back from a strained left knee.
The Rockies rank last in baseball with a 5.29 ERA and the team is 28-44. Since last week, the club has gone to an unusual four-man pitching rotation under which starters are limited to 75 pitches. It’s an idea that has been discussed for several years at several points by the front office. Extreme difficulty pitching at home and short, ineffective work by the starters, brought about the implementation of the idea a week ago in Philadelphia.
Results have been mixed. Jeff Francis has had two strong starts in victories, but Alex White has pitched himself to a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Christian Friedrich (who was to start Tuesday night against the Nationals) lost Friday against Texas in his first start under the new system, and Josh Outman couldn’t make it through five innings despite being given an early 10-run lead in the team’s win at Texas on Saturday.
Currently, there are three injured starting pitchers – lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last year; righty Jhoulys Chacin, who struggled before a nerve issue in his chest was discovered, and Nicasio. Additionally, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was the Opening Day starter but he struggled so much in 11 starts (3-6, 7.20 ERA) that he was moved to the bullpen, where he has pitched well in long relief.
In another surprise move, the Rockies apparently have called up star Double-A lefty Edwar Cabrera, who had earned an invitation to the Sirius XM Futures game during All-Star weekend and last year led all of Minor League Baseball with 174 strikeouts. Cabrera is in line to start Wednesday against the Nationals.
Under Apodaca, the Rockies went to the World Series in 2007, had five 10-game winners in 2009 for the first time in club history and set club ERA marks in 2007 (4.32) and 2010 (4.22). The team has struggled on and off trying to find a way to thrive at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Since 2002, the baseballs have been stored in an atmosphere-controlled chamber to keep them from shrinking and becoming slippery in the mile-high atmosphere.
Apodaca previously served as pitching coach with the Mets and the Brewers.
More to come on MLB.com.
DETROIT — Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will fly to Philadelphia on Monday for further evaluation of an injury in the left groin area that has kept him out of action since May 30, the club announced Friday.
Dr. William Meyers, a surgeon with extensive experience in sports hernia injuries, will look at Tulowitzki’s two previous MRI reports plus conduct his own evaluation. Meyers performed a sports hernia surgery on Rangers star Josh Hamiltion in November 2011. Meyers also has operated on football players Donovan McNabb and Jeremy Shockey, and hockey player Tomas Holmstrom.
It’s not certain if his injury is a sports hernia or which of the many types of sports hernia it may be and, if it is a sports hernia, it’s not a certainty that Tulowitzki will have surgery. Rockies head trainer Keith Dugger said Friday the club is acting on a recommendation to have another opinion on what is causing the pain and discomfort in the left groin area.
Tulowitzki’s current diagnosis is a left groin strain. The injury has bothered him since the first series of the year. Tulowitzki began an injury rehab assignment Wednesday at Triple-A Colorado Springs but left after three innings when he felt pain in the area. Sports hernias are diagnosed almost exclusively in high-level male athletes, and usually occur with athletes who battle chronic groin pain.
The Rockies will play in Philadelphia Tuesday through Thursday. Tulowitzki’s evaluation will occur on the Rockies’ idle day on Monday.