Rockies release former All-Star Hawpe

August 18, 2010 | 11:39 pm | 23  

The Colorado Rockies have released Brad Hawpe, who cleared waivers unclaimed earlier Wednesday. The move was expected and was made official shortly after the game.

Tracy Ringolsby reports via Twitter that the team wants to give Seth Smith regular playing time and that Hawpe preferred to become a free agent to land somewhere he can regular playing time before becoming a free agent after the season.

Hawpe pinch-hit in the seventh inning and singled in his final at-bat with the team.

The Rockies will recall a reliever before Thursday’s series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Left-hander Matt Reynolds, who’s 1-3 with a 2.62 ERA at Triple-A Colorado Springs, is the most likely candidate.

The Rockies were not planning to exercise a 2011 option worth $10 million to keep Hawpe. If he had stayed with the Rockies through the end of the season and was offered arbitration, the team would have been in line for two compensation draft picks if he declined and signed elsewhere. But after his struggles in 2010, there’s no guarantee another team would be willing to give up a draft pick and offer Hawpe a more lucrative contract than he would receive through arbitration. Hawpe’s best option financially would have been to stay with the Rockies, leaving the team with a glut of outfielders again next season and little payroll flexibility.

In seven seasons with the Rockies, Hawpe hit .280 with 118 home runs and 464 RBI. He was an All-Star in 2009.

23 Comments »

  • robba | August 18, 2010 | 11:56 pm

    steve, might want to correct the spelling of brad’s name.

  • Steve Foster | August 19, 2010 | 12:02 am

    got it, sorry.

  • Timo | August 19, 2010 | 12:16 am

    Thanks for the big hits over the years Brad! Good luck wherever you land. Great (under-appreciated) Rockie.

  • Steve Foster | August 19, 2010 | 12:22 am

    It’s unfortunate that it ended so unceremoniously, but it sounds like the move is the best one for all parties. The Rockies can turn to Smith and Hawpe can look for a place to get playing time while he tries to rebuild his market value before hitting the free agent market again after the season.

  • Doctor_Christopher | August 19, 2010 | 1:19 am

    Said it the other day, thanks for everything Brad. We appreciated all you did and we will miss you. Good luck elsewhere (please not in the NL West). Sometimes we all need a change of scenery to get things turned around.

    Steve, we have now seen Garret and Brad both slope off quickly in their production as the closed in on and passed 30. Are we seeing a return to normality with the end of steroids? Garret and Brad’s decline really does seem more in line with most athletes in most sports. Are the days of the “great 30s” going to become more and more rare? Is this something we are seeing in other teams?

  • David Martin | August 19, 2010 | 1:28 am

    Sad to see him go. He was definitely not himself since the ’09 All Star game, but he was still a huge part of the Rockies going from the laughing stock of the league to a World Series team. His home runs off of Brad Penny when no one else could hit him, and of course the long blast off of Joe Thatcher in the middle of the ’07 run will be fondly remembered in Rockies history.

    Best of luck to Brad. He represents everything about why it is good to be a Rockies fan.

  • GARY | August 19, 2010 | 3:44 am

    Best of luck,to a guy who helped get us on the map.Hope u have great success-just not against us.

  • Norm | August 19, 2010 | 7:06 am

    Sorry to see Brad go. Nest it will be Barmes. When will Baylor go his great hitting instuction has got to be released Atkins and Hawpe.

  • Anonymous | August 19, 2010 | 7:30 am

    Guys do we really have to correct every spelling error in these articles? We all know what’s being said.

  • ProgMatinee | August 19, 2010 | 7:41 am

    Sad to see Brad go the way he did. Gen R is almost completely over. No Hawpe, Atkins, Holliday, Fuentes, Baker. Next to leave will be Cook, Francis, Barmes and possibly Spilly. I think 2 or 3 of the 4 will be gone next year.

    I believe that would clear every player from the 2005 roster except for Helton. I had only casually followed the Rockies before that, but 2005 was the team I initially saw a spark or talent and thought something was around the corner.

  • Jerry R. | August 19, 2010 | 8:24 am

    Brad is a class act. I loved watching his cannon arm gun down runners on the bases. I sat behind his mom and dad during the ’07 playoff run, and they are a great family, great people, unselfish.

    Brad, thank you for the effort and memories.

    I hope you can refind your hitting stroke, you are one of the good guys.

  • JordanR | August 19, 2010 | 8:57 am

    Where’s the Don Baylor responsibility in this situation. Is he or is he not the hitting coach? Hawpe has proven he can hit so when he hits a slump who should help him out of it? Baylor! Not sure I’s bring DB back particularly given their low road BA. (is the Garrett Adkins all over again?)At the end of the day though the old saw still applies, “if you hit – you play.”

    Brad – good luck wherever you land. You are a good solid talent that should help someone win.

  • ian | August 19, 2010 | 9:32 am

    What in the hell happened to Hawpe? How do you go from tearing it up the first half of ’09 and being an all star to being released? Have you ever seen someone lose it so fast?

    There has to be an explanation and I’d like to know what it is. It has perplexed me since last season.

  • Dan | August 19, 2010 | 9:42 am

    Really sad to see someone with such talent waste it. What is going on. first Adkins, now Hawpe. Suspect Cook and Barmes will be the next. Then Francis wont be renewed. This team had so much potential to end up like this. In this league, you are only as good as how you are currently playng. What you did in the past doesnt matter. When the owners sat tight on thier wallets at the trade deadline, they sent a clear message that the status quo is going to be maintained. Can you say “rebuilding”?

  • Steve Foster | August 19, 2010 | 9:43 am

    You’re right, Prog, about this being the last hurrah for Gen R. Players who played in 2005 who are still in the organization: Helton, Barmes, Quintanilla, Spilborghs (he played one game), Francis and Cook. Helton should be back next year, Spilborghs is a good bet because he’s under contract at a reasonable price and either Francis or Cook will likely be back, but probably not both. Barmes is a good candidate to be non-tendered because he’ll be a bit pricey as a utility player. It’s a little sad, because this is the class of Rockies that helped make baseball interesting in Denver again after some truly awful years. Unfortunately, it’s the reality of being a mid- to small-market team. About five years from now after the 2014 season, when Tulowitzki and Jimenez are in the last year of their contracts and Gonzalez, Stewart, Fowler and Smith are in their final arbitration years, the Rockies will be making some tough decisions and likely will be turning over the roster to another generation.

  • Steve Foster | August 19, 2010 | 10:02 am

    The explanation for Hawpe’s offensive decline is pretty straightforward. One thing that’s lost about his 2010 season is that it actually started out well — he hit .357 in April before he went on the DL and on May 15, the last real high point for him, Hawpe was hitting .370 with four home runs and 21 RBI. Hawpe regularly has struggled later in the season — for his career, his batting average in the first half is 34 points higher than the second half (.294 vs. .260). In only one season, 2008, did his batting average rise in the second half. He has a very complex swing with a lot of moving parts and it’s easy to get out of sync. It makes sense that he starts well, because he has the low-pressure environment of spring training to hone his swing and get it just right. But over the course of a season, a little slump might lead to a little adjustment in his swing, so small that’s imperceptible even to him. But a small adjustment in his swing is enough to create more swings and misses, sending Hawpe into a slump which leads to more adjustments and so on. It’s why he’s such a streaky hitter.

    This move is only partly based on Hawpe’s performance — he was showing a bit of power late last month and with regular playing time might have been able to work past his slump. But the Rockies remain at the edge of the pennant race and have struggled so much offensively as a team recently, that they’re not in a position to wait it out. So the move allows the Rockies to go with the hot bat and gives Hawpe a chance to find a regular playing time elsewhere. Don’t expect Hawpe’s career to decline quite as dramatically as Atkins’ did. Hawpe will find a new home and he will hit.

  • Steve N | August 19, 2010 | 10:21 am

    Thanks for the great info about Hawpe’s decline Steve. I wonder if he ever tried using a lighter bat? The one he seems to favor is very long and heavy at the end. Obviously one has to swing it just right and have a pitch that matches.

    I wish him well!

  • Rod | August 19, 2010 | 11:19 am

    It is sad to see Brad go. He hit some big homeruns for the Rockies and also was considered one of the better defensive right-fielders in the NL at one time. Even though I can see the Rockies point of view on this, I still don’t think Brad is done. The Rockies were paying Brad to be an everyday, 90 RBI, middle of the order player that could serviceably cover right at Coors field and protect Tulowitzki in the lineup. In some ways through no fault of his own, he has been unable to do that this season, and offered little reason to believe that he would rebound and be able to do it next season, so the Rockies had to cut the line, even if that meant they would subject their fans to more Seth Smith.

    Brad’s professional demeanor and willingness to do whatever is asked of him, including playing first base, I believe gives him an opportunity to play everyday. He is similar to Adam LaRoche in that he has a quirky swing that is susceptible to frequent slumps, but he also has tons of power, something I believe he still showed late this season on those rare occasions when Tracy put him in the lineup. I realize financially this was the move the Rockies had to make, but I still question the way Hawpe was managed this season, beginning at the point that he suffered the rib injury and culminating with his eventual release. Hawpe’s numbers prior to that rib injury were decent, so it’s not as if he has been on an Atkins-like slide, as keeps getting suggested.

    I kind of take issue with some of the comments I’ve seen recently that suggest that Brad lost his desire and concentration, or that Baylor failed to fix his swing. All of us that have watched Hawpe play throughout his career know that he has always been one of the streakiest hitters in the game, and it was a hot streak of his in September of ’07 that included a 2 out, 14th inning homerun off San Diego’s Joe Thatcher at PetCo Park which gave the Rockies a 2-1 win, extending the Rockies winning streak to 6 and kicking off a sweep of the team the Rockies were desperately chasing up until the 163rd game was over. From August 6 through October 1 of 2007, Brad hit .297 with 11 HR and 47 RBI.

    I keep hearing it said that it doesn’t matter what a player has done in the past, only what he has done lately, but in Hawpe’s case I think there is more beneath the surface than this simple rationale. By this argument, about half the team should be gone. I think this situation is 100% about money and not at all about production. The Rockies’ have stuck by Brad through his slumps before and been rewarded. They simply have some fool’s gold in Smith right now, who is under their control for a number of years, and they are operating on the prayer that he can become the player that Brad was. Maybe financial necessity forces them to it, but I really think that his injury, slight signs of age (which have been exaggerated to his detriment) coupled with Tracy’s incessant tinkering and apparent lack of faith in the entire roster have been responsible for his drop in production this season. The Rockies are scapegoating Hawpe because of his contract, but in my opinion the real scapegoat looks and smells like Jim Tracy. Maybe the way Hawpe has been handled comes down from management, and not Tracy himself, but frankly this kind of thing looks bad and resembles too much the Pittsburgh Pirate way. I understand that the Rockies are a small market team, but it seems inconsistent that ownership can represent the team to the fans and players as a contender with championship expectations, and then manage the team every year like hopeless losers. Makes me feel ripped off for buying tickets.

  • Doctor_Christopher | August 19, 2010 | 2:49 pm

    Steve thanks for the breakdown on Brad. I hope nobody thought I was implying that Hawpe or Atkins might have used PEDS (that was not my statement), its just I remember that in late 90s and early 2000s there was all this talk of “40 is the new 30″ (now that I am 40, it is not 30, and sure isn’t 25). I was a competitive runner age-division wise until injuries caught up with me in those years after 30. I don’t think Atkins had significant injuries (that we knew of, guys do play hurt everyday), but Brad sure has been slowed. I think that stories like Brad’s mean that the days of 3+ years for over 30 position player are going to be scarcier and scarcier. That means when CarGo gets his one big shot at free agency, he better get a great contract because the next one won’t be so sure. Look at how Manny has become injury prone (yes, he is 39). Carlos Beltran, who for a few years there was the most exciting player in the NL likewise has become a shadow (hope he recovers). For those of us here who know what happened to our bodies after 30, it makes sense. There will always be greats who stay great post-30, but that should become fewer and fewer.

    Steve, do you and the ITR guys think that with PEDS out of the system that some teams may begin to rush younger players to the majors knowing that their window is shorter now than it used to be? Gen-R was mostly 25+ when they got here, which is a little late in some respects. Today we have CarGo and Dex out there under 25 and already 2 years almost of service time. We have seen this with other teams (Heyward, Stanton, Castro). I just wonder if the “sit and wait” view is going to go away and we will see more and more early 20s players learning in the bigs rather than AA and AAA.

  • Steve Foster | August 19, 2010 | 3:39 pm

    Whether or not PEDs are out of the system — I think it’s debatable whether that’s even true — should have little effect on how teams bring along their prospects. Teams bring their prospects along on their own schedule — some teams rush players as a habit and some, like the Rockies, are a little more methodical. The primary variable in holding back or not holding back prospects is financial. Teams are often disinclined to bring a player up and start the service time clock ticking if a player won’t play regularly. One thing you might see is that if the number of veteran players using PEDs to prolong their careers shrinks and along with it the pool of productive players in their late 30s, teams might decide the production of a 37-year-old making $3 million is not substantially better than the production they would get from a 24-year-old making $400k, and opt for the younger player for financial considerations. But in the cases mentioned above — Heyward, Stanton, Castro and Gonzalez — the players were ready and could no longer be justifiably kept in the minors.

  • Doctor_Christopher | August 19, 2010 | 8:20 pm

    Steve, great stuff as always. Had forgotten the idea of “wasting” pre-arbitration years on years when players sre really not “ready.” Glad the Rocks took the risk with CarGo. He proved he was no AAAA player and the only A that should before his name hereon out is All-Star.

  • Agbayani | August 19, 2010 | 9:07 pm

    An utterly pointless move, releasing Hawpe with about 11 games left before expanded rosters. If I’m not missing something, there’s zero cost savings. The club that picks up Hawpe pays him one month of the MLB minimum. Which is what the Rox will pay the player who takes his roster spot. He’s in his decline phase, but nothing weird about that. Hitters peak on average at age 27. He’s not falling off a cliff like Atkins. The Rox are basing the “Hawpe is done” theory on a streak of poor performance lasting approx 200 plate appearances. That’s way too short a stretch to glean any significant falloff in true talent level. See Olivo, Miguel for the flipside of that story. If they still have playoff dreams, this move is just plain stupid now. If they’ve given up on 2010 (a rational decision), they ought to go all in right now, which means getting some value out of de la Rosa, dumping Melvin Mora and playing Stewart against lefties, calling up Chris Nelson, etc, etc. Dumping Hawpe now seems to be the most illogical of moves when you’ve got a Giambi and a Mora and a Barmes still on the roster.

  • Jon S | August 20, 2010 | 3:56 pm

    Agbayani, I think the biggest factor was that the Rockies had no intention of giving Hawpe playing time the rest of this year. In some ways, yes, you could look at that as them giving up on this year and looking to the future. If they weren’t going to put Hawpe in the lineup, releasing him was a sign of respect to a player who had given them a lot of good years. He might have fit just fine on the 40-man roster, but if he wasn’t going to get any game time that doesn’t really matter much.

    Jon