Cargo Arrives in St. Louis Friday

June 4, 2009 | 9:50 pm | 29  

Carlos Gonzalez‘s time has come.

The left-handed-hitting outfielder acquired as part of the package from Oakland for Matt Holliday will join the Rockies in St. Louis on Friday. The Rockies also have activated right-handed reliever Matt Daley from the disabled list.

To make room on the 25-man roster, the Rockies optioned outfielder Matt Murton to Triple-A Colorado Springs, and designated right-handed pitcher Jason Grilli for assignment, giving them 10 days to move his contract.

The arrival of Gonzalez adds to the plethora of left-handed bats on the Rockies roster. Gonzalez joins left-handed-hitting outfielders Seth Smith and Brad Hawpe, third baseman Ian Stewart, and first baseman Todd Helton.

Manager Jim Tracy is expected to juggle Smith, Gonzalez and switch-hitting Dexter Fowler in left field and center field, ensuring each gets at least five starts a week. Ryan Spilborghs would appear to be in line to become the fifth outfielder.

Gonzalez forced the issue. He is hitting .339 with 10 home runs, 12 doubles, seven triples and 59 RBI in 47 games at Colorado Springs.

“It’s time,” Tracy said of bringing up Gonzalez, who came to the Rockies from the A’s along with closer Huston Street and left-handed pitcher Greg Smith. “At the end of spring I sat in when Clint (Hurdle, former manager) met with the young man, and Carlos has answered all the messages he was given.”

Asked about the crowded outfield, Tracy said, `That will be what I have to figure out. I accept that challenge.”

What helps Tracy is that Helton, Hawpe and Stewart all have strong averages against left-handed pitchers, even though they are left-handed hitters.

Daley has been out for two weeks with a sprained ankle. He pitched two scoreless innings on a rehab assignment at Colorado Springs, and was declared ready to be activated.

With Joel Peralta having pitched well since his call up, Grilli became the odd man out in light of his recent struggles. He has allowed 12 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings his last nine games, including nine earned runs in 5 1/3 innings the last five.

The Rockies will ask waivers on Grilli and if he is not claimed by another team they will send him outright to Colorado Springs, which they hope will provide him an opportunity to regain consistency with his fastball.

“You are talking about a 95-mile-per-hour arm,” said Tracy. “You would like to think you can get it back on line.”

29 Comments »

  • Karl | June 4, 2009 | 10:06 pm

    Tough luck for Murton being the odd man out, but with options, thats the business then it looks like. Good to see him with the two run single tonight.

    Going to be an interesting juggle of those five outfielders. Only a theory, with nothing but an opinion to back it up, but I would think one of the lefties is getting traded in the next thirty days. That’s just a lot of left handed bats on this team. But this year Stewart I believe is still hitting left handers better than rights? and Hawpe has hit everyone this year.

    As for Grilli, his struggles to get the 3rd out in the inning is just typical of his last few outings. Good arm and hopefully he clears and comes back to the team later on, but a 95mph arm, I wonder if someone will try to take a flier on him.

  • Dustin | June 4, 2009 | 10:17 pm

    What is Brad’s salary and contract look like? I would hate to see him traded.

  • Greg Stanwood | June 4, 2009 | 10:18 pm

    Grilli strikes me as someone other teams would be interested in. I am skeptical he clears waivers, but you never know. I am also surprised to see the organization pull the trigger on a Murton/Gonzalez swap, but it’s not like CarGo didn’t earn it…

  • Jack Etkin | June 4, 2009 | 10:30 pm

    Dustin,

    Hawpe makes $5.5M this year and $7.5M in 2010. There’s a club option for $10M in 2011, which would be his first year of free agency, with a $500K buyout. Hawpe can void the club option if he’s traded.

  • Christopher Morton | June 4, 2009 | 10:30 pm

    Hawpe is signed through 2011 I believe at a team friendly salary. He or Marquis is likely to be our lone All Star this year, which would add to his value. The Rocks are shopping him as far as I know, but if someone offers them a great deal, you have to consider it. Unless that happens I assume Hawpe will be here til the end of his contract if not beyond (in what has been a lost two months Hawpe’s growth as more than a streak hitter has been one of the great pieces of news).

    I did wonder though why they didnt send down Fowler. He has done adequate, and everytime I think he is about to go under he makes enough adjustment to keep himself in the line-up. Would some time at AAA help him? He won’t see major league curves and sliders there, so I guess it wouldn’t. Seth is a nice cheap piece that has played well both starting and pitch hitting. They do have a lot of interesting pieces in the outfield, and dealing some of them makes sense to get more talent, but no one is giving away young solid arms these days (I am still intersted to see if Greg Smith, who was a workhorse in the AL might be able to become a #3 or #4 in the lighter hitting NL). You make the deal if it helps the club in the next 2-3 years, which means AA or AAA players, and aside from pitching I don’t think the Rocks have glaring holes to be filled in the minors.

    If our players up in the bigs would hit and catch like they have shown they can, this team can win and be exciting. But it didn’t happen under Clint and thus far the results with Tracy are still mixed.

    Oh well, I am a Rocks fan, and will keep watching and cheering and see what happens.

  • Mike | June 4, 2009 | 10:59 pm

    Grilli has a deal for $800,000 according to Cots and is arb-eligible.

    I’d guess someone will claim him and I’m sure the Rockies know this. He had some good moments for the Rockies, but his career ERA is 4.73…he is replaceable.

  • Mike | June 4, 2009 | 11:35 pm

    Juggling the OF playing time seems a big problem if another deal isn’t imminent. There aren’t 15 starts/week in CF + LF, and I assume Hawpe is still going to play nearly every day. As much as I like Smith and Spilly, I hope they play CarGon and Fowler regularly and let Smith and Spilly spot start for them.

  • Agbayani | June 4, 2009 | 11:49 pm

    Sometimes you start to think that things are turning around and that management is starting to get it, and then something like this happens to let you know that nothing of the sort is happening.

    Premise (inherent in the call-up and the Smith-Fowler-Gonzalez “rotation” in CF/LF plan): these guys are part of our future, and Spilborghs is not.

    Reality: this club is already out of the NL West race, and has no realistic chance at the playoffs.

    Upshot: there is no reason to have two keys to your future success (Gonzalez and Fowler; Smith is considered a lesser cog) accrue MLB service time at the same time. Since both are most valuable as centerfielders, the obvious solution is to let one play here, one in the Springs. So switching Fowler and Gonzalez would make sense; this doesn’t, at least not now.

    Performance: if this club is making any effort to compete this year (rather than going to full-out rebuilding/youth mode), then Spilborghs must play against all LH pitchers. Just look at his career splits. And if Spilborghs is not really part of the future, you’ve got to let him play anyway because he should have a non-negligible trade value. Although marginal as a starting corner outfielder (and still unproven as a full-time centerfielder), he has real value given his proven value as the RH hitting part of a platoon. So you don’t sit him; you play him, and try to trade him when the right offer arises.

    Grilli really has been awful; not just bad results, but really bad pitches. The way he handled an 8-run lead tonight was pathetic. I can’t see anyone claiming him, so the Springs would be a good opportunity for him to get back on track. He’s been this way (radically up and down) for his entire career, so don’t expect him to suddenly become consistently good. But another good streak could start tomorrow, next month, or next year. So he’s worth keeping around in AAA.

  • Matthew | June 5, 2009 | 1:26 am

    I am optimistic about the Rockies after these moves. I predict the Rockies will have a winning record in the month of June.

  • Karl | June 5, 2009 | 6:27 am

    I thought CarGon was a natural right fielder that he would play in left right now. Agbayani, you are going on about him being a center fielder as is Fowler. I am wondering if I have it wrong or have misheard this about him.

    It’s time to see what the future has with them and so getting them all five starts a piece in Smith, CarGon and Fowler each week will be interesting, because I am then wondering if that does put CarGon in center part of the week or will it put Smith there? Still wonder if a trade is not going to happen in the next month.

  • Trip | June 5, 2009 | 7:46 am

    Karl, Tracy Ringolsby stated in a different thread CarGo is not a centerfielder.

  • Agbayani | June 5, 2009 | 9:24 am

    CarGo played CF for the A’s last year, and by any measure (including subjective reports and all fielding metrics) he was above average. Of course, he isn’t as naturally gifted as Fowler in CF, so on this club he projects as a RFer.

    Having thought about the timing some more, I’d suggest that O’Dowd did wait to call CarGo up to avoid Super2 arb eligibility. Which is smart. Bit he could achieve the same thing foe Fowler by sending him down now. Which would be justifiable in pure baseball sense, since Fowler is still raw and (although very promising) he hasn’t exactly been tearing up MLB pitching. My point is that on a losing club all these guys — Smith, Fowler, CarGo (because they’re still developing) and Spilly (because he has trade value, and because he’s the best against lefties by a wide margin) — need to be playing nearly everyday in MLB or in AAA. And this new roster composition makes that impossible to do.

  • Mike | June 5, 2009 | 9:33 am

    CarGon also played CF in the Springs. I don’t see an overall breakdown of games, but he was listed as a CF when I’d occasionally check the box scores.

    I don’t see a problem with playing both Fowler and Gonzalez regularly in the majors. Fowler has been doing ok and perhaps the Rockies development people think his lessons are best learned in the majors vs. AAA.

    Sitting Spilly shouldn’t hurt his trade value, at least not to the extent that you send Fowler down. Teams know what he can do.

  • elimin8 | June 5, 2009 | 10:50 am

    Some have mentioned this, but in order to get value it seems that the people who might have the most trade value right now are Hawpe and Spilly. If they both are sent packing, Murton is still available. I like these players, but given the way the team is playing, I can’t see them doing much worse with the young guys getting more playing time. I’m also wondering what the current thinking is on de la Rosa. It doesn’t seem that they can go much further with him.

  • Mike | June 5, 2009 | 11:55 am

    Yeah, good question about DLR. I wonder what the team’s thinking is, esp. with Morales going through his rehab assignment and Hammel’s strong performance last night.

    DLR is relatively cheap ($2M) and has another arb year left after this, so I’d be surprised to see them give up on him completely, they’d probably move him to the bullpen.

    (BTW, Hammel’s extreme home/road performances were brought to my attention last night…10.89 runs/9 at home, 2.79 runs/9 on the road; all 4 of his 6+ inning starts were on the road. There’s no reason for his split to be that extreme, and I suspect both sets of stats would even out a bit if he stays in the rotation. But sheesh, I hope the road stats are more indicative of his overall ability.)

  • Dave | June 5, 2009 | 12:10 pm

    Tracy, what’s the story with Mike McCoy down at the Springs? His offense has been phenomenal, even better than Carlos Gonzalez – fewer home runs and rbi’s, but more doubles, better average, much better on base percentage – walks more than he strikes out – maybe that’s it, wouldn’t fit in on this Rockies team! If he can field a lick, how is he not better than any other second or third base alternative the Rockies have available?

  • Mike | June 5, 2009 | 12:24 pm

    Barmes has been playing well at 2nd–he’s no Chase Utley, but his performance certainly doesn’t scream to be replaced by a 28 yr old AAA player. There’s already not enough playing time at 3rd for Stewart and Atkins. McCoy has hit well at the Springs, but consider the 2,226 at-bats that preceded that stop.

  • Dave | June 5, 2009 | 2:03 pm

    Let me see – ah yes, his average has climbed to .266, on base percentage a sparkling .326, walked 12 times all year, but struck out 36, caught stealing 3 out of 8 – yeah, he’s tearing them up, just the bat handler I want hitting second. A nice guy and fine defender, but since we’re giving other people a look, how about a guy who through 2,226 at-bats has always put up better numbers than that?

  • Tracy Ringolsby | June 5, 2009 | 2:41 pm

    I would say he is more along the lines of Spilborgh in center field, decent, but not the overall package you want in a center fielder, like a Fowler. He is better suited to the corners, but could be pushed to center, just like Ellis Burks was.

  • Mike | June 5, 2009 | 2:53 pm

    how about a guy who through 2,226 at-bats has always put up better numbers than that?

    Ha ha. I guess the backup QB really is always the fan favorite.

    McCoy’s averages over those AB’s are .265 / .347 / .352. With his Springs resurgence it’s up to .270 / .368 /.362. How is his fielding?

    Sure, we don’t like that Barmes fell down the stairs and doesn’t draw walks. Maybe McCoy suddenly found himself at age 28, but he looks like he’d be doing a lot to match poor, crappy ole Barmes. Do you really think he’s worth risking a Jason Nix-like adjustment period to find out?

  • Mike | June 5, 2009 | 2:55 pm

    RE. Tracy on CarGon’s CF ability:

    The other thing is, with Coors Field’s deep alleys, it doesn’t hurt to have guys with good range in the OF corners.

  • Robb | June 5, 2009 | 3:09 pm

    I liked Grilli, the past few outings notwithstanding. He was solid last year and the first month of this season. I would trust him out there more than I would Embree. While the Rocks have no chance at the NL West, I really believe they could contend for the wildcard. They are 9.5 games out as of today, which isn’t crazy with 100+ games left. Granted, they will have to get to 86-88 wins, but I believe they can do it. At the very least I am not ready to concede the season just yet.

  • Joseph | June 5, 2009 | 3:39 pm

    Robb,

    I am with you. Nobody should be conceding anything. From July 1 to the end of the season they will have 49 home games vs. 36 road games. If they just play the Doug Moe + / – to a 0 they pick up 13 games on .500, which adding the current record put them 2 games over. If they could just quickly get their stuff together and have a good June they could get into the thick of the wild card race or who knows maybe even the division should the Dodgers falter.

  • Robb | June 5, 2009 | 3:54 pm

    Thanks, Joseph, for the backup. However, I really don’t think they can catch the Dodgers. It is wildcard or nothing this year; which I would take, no question about it.

  • Bob | June 5, 2009 | 4:11 pm

    If they make the wild card now they will be contenders to win the pennant as they would have to be the best team playing from here on out!

  • Karl | June 5, 2009 | 4:23 pm

    If and big IF, this team can win more than 1 or two at a time, they could get the momentum rolling and see where that leads them. If they don’t stop the 2-3 game losing streaks all the time though, they are going to only win 60ish. I really thought this team would win 88-95 games this year. To do that now, they have to play .667 ball the rest of the way.

  • Derrek | June 5, 2009 | 4:34 pm

    I hope the Rox do make a run but it’s really hard for me to believe they have any chance of that with their horrible pitching. The starters are way too inconsistent and the bullpen is not good outside of Street. Pitching is the key and the Rox don’t have pitching.

  • Mike | June 5, 2009 | 5:40 pm

    I don’t think the pitching is any worse than the hitting when park effects are taken into account. The starters are actually slightly above the league average.

    Anyway: CarGon starts tonight in LF.

  • JR | June 6, 2009 | 8:52 am

    I hate to see Spilly get pushed out. For what it’s worth, I watched him play admirably at first base while he was with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.