The Coors Effect

June 18, 2009 11:46 AM

Are the Rockies going to be buyers on the trade market?

Earlier this week, John Perrotto speculated that the Rockies might be a possible trade destination for Ian Snell.  What's that?  The Rockies are involved in trade rumors... and they don't involve the Rockies dumping a veteran's salary in exchange for prospects?

While I'm not personally sold on the Ian Snell rumor, it does make some sense that the Rockies might be buying in the trade market.  After all, the recent winning streak means that the playoffs aren't terribly far out of the realm of possibility.  Also, Dan O'Dowd is in the final year of his contract, and he's in danger of being removed after the season.  A playoff appearance would probably change all of that... so basically, O'Dowd's in a position where he might really want to mortgage the future in order to win now.

Essentially, those two factors combine to produce a situation where the Rockies are going to try to win now, even if it's still kind of a longshot.  We'll see where the Rockies are in a week; if their current winning ways continue, a move for this season seems like much less of a longshot.

Now, I'm not sold on the Snell rumors largely because (a) Snell is fairly expensive -- he's owed $3 million this season and $4.25 million in 2010, with club options for 2011 and 2012, and (b) he hasn't been that good recently.  Snell has dropped off considerably from his 2006 and 2007 seasons, to where he's not really even a league-average pitcher.  And he isn't an improvement over either Jorge or Jason Hammel right now.  Yes, Snell pitching to his potential is better -- but then Jorge consistently pitching to his potential is better than most starting pitchers that might be available in a trade, so that's a moot point.

The bigger point that can be drawn out of this is that if the Rockies are going to be in the market for anything, it's pitching.  It isn't so much that there are any weak links in the starting rotation right now -- Jorge is close, particularly since Bad Jorge has been showing up a lot lately -- as it is that the Rockies simply don't have that much depth.  If a starter or two goes down?  We'd better hope that Franklin Morales gets back to form soon, because the other options aren't very appealing.

On the other hand, I doubt the Rockies will be sellers, even if they do end up selling off some parts.  With the team's current surplus of outfielders, it's still likely that at least one of them will be dealt.  I thought it would be Brad Hawpe earlier, but as the team inches closer to contention, that becomes less and less likely as the Rockies will not want to have to replace his production if they're in a playoff race.  A more likely candidate to be dealt is Ryan Spilborghs, who's a fan favorite but has a skill set that's largely duplicated by Matt Murton.

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