The race is on – for the Rockies to trade Troy Tulowitzki before his next major injury.
Colorado’s shortstop has hit the disabled list with thigh, thumb, wrist, groin, trunk and hip injuries during his career, and with more than 35 issues listed, the phrase “no longer being updated” appears in red on his player page at Baseball Prospectus.
With financial red ink being the larger concern – Tulowitzki is making $20 million this year and is owed $98 million from 2016 through 2020 – rookie general manager Jeff Bridich would be wise to deal his one-time franchise player for whatever he can, as quickly he can. Wait for a market to develop any more than it has and risk having a potential deal blow up in your face. Or worse yet, Tulo’s face, because that’s a body part which can be injured too.
The San Diego Padres, with a rookie GM of their own in A.J. Preller, need a shortstop and have been known to spend wildly. Known since December, anyway. Maybe a match can be made.
The days of difference-making raking shortstops like Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez playing in their prime simultaneously seem like ancient history, as opposed to just history now, and we’re getting closer to a return to the position as a defense-first dynamic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, in a vacuum, but it does limit the selections for personnel executives.
Look at this list. How many sticks do you see among the top 10, or even the top 20? And how many general managers do you think are delighted with their shortstops?
Jose Iglesias’ offense is self-correcting as we speak, but he’s a wiz (that word is chosen for a reason, by the way, #Ozzie) with the glove and he’s exactly the type of shortstop to get you to and through October. Detroit is beyond set. Among the contenders, the Cardinals with Jhonny Peralta and the Giants with Brandon Crawford are too. Ian Desmond and Wilmer Flores are a mess on defense, Jimmy Rollins is hitting his weight only because he’s a little guy and San Diego could use a whole new infield, which the last I checked includes a shortstop.
The demand outweighs the supply, by a fair margin, which means that teams looking to upgrade at short can either overpay with prospects, take on salary and injury risk in someone like Tulowitzki (who may also require minor leaguers) or stand pat. Grin and bear it, essentially.
Despite his 2015 struggles Tulo is still a top shortstop with the bat, comparatively speaking. With the glove too. Bridich is already being called a neophyte in Denver and the pressure to do the right thing with Tulowitzki must be overwhelming. Paralyzing, even. This is hardly flip-a-coin type stuff.
But if Bridich is a neophyte at 37 years old today what do we call his predecessor, Dan O’Dowd, who at 41 on December 8, 2000 signed Mike Hampton to an eight-year, $121 million deal which is on almost everyone’s worst-contracts-of-all-time list?
It was also O’Dowd who four months later gave Todd Helton a nine-year, $141 million extension for his age 29-37 seasons, and saddled his club with both Tulowitzki’s 10-year, $157.75 million 2010 deal and Carlos Gonzalez’ seven-year, $80 million deal in 2011.
Colorado needs to be a bit less generous and a tad more farsighted going forward. Let’s see what Bridich can do before we start affixing labels, shall we? My guess is, a trade comes earlier than the conventional wisdom, with Tulowitzki going with dollars for less than the acquiring team’s best prospects. Before disaster strikes in the form of a thigh, thumb, wrist, groin, trunk, hip or quad.
Writers have been comparing Mike Trout to Bryce Harper since at least 2012. I didn’t see the point at first, because although both were promising young players, and both outfielders, why the rush to pit them against each other?
And why the rush for a Mays/Aaron or Mays/Mantle-like comparison, both of which have been going on for generations, and involving nothing but first-ballot Hall of Famers? Trout had all of 123 at bats at the major league level prior to 2012; Harper zero, with 422 in the minors.
Who knew what would become of Bryce Harper in 2012? The most objective of us had no idea what might become of the Nationals’ right fielder as recently as a year ago. It wasn’t much of a comparison anyway. Trout was the across-the-board better player for three years running. By plenty, and in every way imaginable. You don’t need specifics from a pundit. Decide for yourself: Trout versus Harper.
The whole thing used to seem silly. But no longer. The tide began to turn under the bright lights of October, 2014. While both the Angels and Nats were eliminated in Division Series play, Trout was a miserable 1-12 (.083) with an RBI and a caught stealing. Harper OPS’d 1.251 with three booming home runs and four RBIs, impressing as a team leader with the way he carried himself in and around the dugout.
Today Harper leads baseball in WAR, a host of other categories, and is on a pace for something in the neighborhood of 60 homers and 150 RBIs. Trout is the consensus best in the sport and the reigning American League Most Valuable Player. He might win another one in 2015. I’m not here to tell you who the better player is currently or in the long-term. But at least now it’s a conversation worth having.
Huge game this afternoon at 3:45 Eastern. Los Angeles at San Francisco, Clayton Kershaw versus Madison Bumgarner as the Giants go for a three-game sweep.
Kershaw is 14-6 lifetime against the Giants, with a 1.51 ERA in 202 innings over 28 games, including 27 starts. He’s 8-2 with an 0.97 at AT&T Park in 92 2/3 innings over 13 games, 12 of them starts.
Bumgarner is 12-5 against L.A. lifetime, with a 2.46 ERA in 120 2/3 innings over 19 games, including 18 starts. This marks the third meeting between the two pitchers this season, with neither earning a decision on April 22, and MadBum outdueling Kershaw in a 2-1 Giants win on April 28.
I wouldn’t dare try to convince you of one ace’s superiority over the other. We know that Bumgarner has been the better postseason pitcher and looks good now. As with Harper surpassing Trout in terms of greatness, at least for a moment in time, perhaps San Francisco’s left-hander is passing the Dodgers’. It kind of feels like he is.