Adjustments at the Plate
With the Colorado Rockies off to a 20-15 record behind solid pitching and the bats of Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, we should be relatively satisfied. After all, the Rockies have already played more road games (23) than any other team in the league, and the assumption is that the slumping bats will come alive once the thin air and short fences do their thing. But after a team batting average of just .228 and some early struggles that may not correct themselves, here are four moves that Colorado may want to look at…sooner than later.
- Find a veteran hitter to plug at first base. The Rockies passed on resigning first baseman Mark Reynolds and his 30 HRs and 97 RBIs to allow rookie Ryan McMahon the opportunity to blossom. But McMahon and his .180 batting average just got sent down to the minors. How about former Rockies Matt Holliday (19 HRs and 64 RBIs in 2017) or Seth Smith (.258 13 HRs and 32 RBIs) who are both unsigned free agents. Or call the garage sale that is the Miami Marlins. First baseman Justin Bour hit 25 HRs and 83 RBIs last year while batting .289. The Rockies may only borrow him for the rest of the year until he becomes a free agent, but the Marlins are always looking to dump salary.
- Find a catcher that can hit. The catcher’s position is all about framing pitches and saving runs these days, but with Chris Iannetta hitting .222 and Tony Walters at .136, is it really that difficult to look around the league for a veteran back up catcher like Jonathan Lucroy. Or try the Dodgers. Yasmani Grandal, Austin Barnes, and Kyle Farmer are all better hitters than what the Rockies have, and the Dodgers top minor league prospect, Keibert Ruiz, is a catcher as well.
- Speaking of the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig could help the lineup. With Carlos Gonzalez (.213) and Ian Desmond (.188) detriments to the lineup, the 27 year-old Cuban could be the catalyst the Rockies are looking for. Puig is a big name that put up 28 HRs and 74 RBIs last year, but he’s a free agent that the Dodgers are probably not going to go after. Doubtful that Puig would sign long term with the Rockies, but he could help us make the playoffs, pad his stats, and move on after the season. Currently hitting .193 for the Dodgers with no homeruns, the time might be right with limited risk.
- Sign Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro was released by the Seattle Mariners and has apparently moved to the front office. At 44 years of age, 3089 career hits, and a lifetime batting average of .311, Suzuki could close his eyes, have a microbrew in one hand, and still hit better than Pat Valaika (.103), Mike Tauchman (.043), or any other platoon guy we have.
DJ Lemahieu’s return to the lineup will obviously help, and McMahon may figure things out in AAA, but I’m not sure the struggles of Story, Cargo, Desmond, and Iannetta will ever get fixed at the plate. The prudent move is to wait until the trade deadline and watch the waiver wires, but one solid transaction could mean the difference between .500 and back-to-back playoffs appearances.
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