Tuesday, April 30, 2024

When All Else Fails, Call Someone Up


It's not uncommon for a team facing last place to turn to an organizational prospect to try and help them out of the hole. What is uncommon is the state of one of these teams, and the status of the player he's replacing.

Let's go over the likelier case first, the Colorado Rockies. They're in last place in the NL West. Everyone expected them to be in last place this year, because the other 4 teams set out to compete, and the Rockies...didn't. The one saving grace seemed to be Kris Bryant, and unsurprisingly he's already hurt, as is Kyle Freeland. Their 7-21 record is one of the worst in baseball, and they're already expected to sort of do what they can for the rest of the season.

And while it's not like there's nobody performing well on this team, the standouts are very few in Colorado. Ryan McMahon's once again an excellent performer, hitting .308 with 4 home runs and 16 RBIs, but people are gonna look at McMahon's numbers in a few years, compare them to Helton's and Arenado's, and go 'this guy was really our MVP every year?' Not that he's bad, he's very good, but he's just...Arenado but less so. Ezequiel Tovar is also off to a decent contact start, hitting .284 along with some excellent defense. Tovar has been solid so far for the Rockies since taking over short- nothing monolithic, but he's been steady and reliable. And Elias Diaz might still be one of the best hitting catchers in the game, which is surprising as hell considering he used to be a second stringer for Pittsburgh. But with no reliable homegrown starters, a ton of mediocre hitting and a lot of contracted players not showing up, it can only do so much.

Which does explain why the Rockies called up Jordan Beck, a winning outfield prospect who seeks to be an upgrade at left field. Funnily enough, the left fielder he is relieving is Nolan Jones, who is coming off an incredible 2023 where people thought he'd be a force going forward. I kinda figured he'd struggle to live up to that season, but Jones is hitting .170. Either he gets it together eventually or he was a fluke, sad to say. The reason for the urgency is Jones' back injury, so hopefully he works that out.  Beck, meanwhile, has been smoking it in Albuquerque with a .300 average and 28 RBIs already, so hopefully he can make the leap and help the team out. Even if he does, he'll at least give them a little more complexity, despite still being last place bound.

But the other case is...stranger. The Houston Astros have began this season 9-19, their worst start since 2016. The magic, it seems, is wearing off. With the amount of pitchers that have gotten injured, as well as the amount of games where they just appear outmatched, the Astros have needed to relegitimize themselves. This is the first time they've looked human since before the winning regime, and while people have pointed to a recently-departed GM and an unproven 'better off as a bench coach' new manager, I think the Astros have peaked. I hate to say it, even with Alvarez, Bregman and Tucker still on this team, but they've been better, and they could be headed downhill.

One of the harbingers of doom for this period was the signing of Jose Abreu, who was supposed to give them infield security as well as some 30 homer years. At 37, Abreu has shown them how foolish they were to give him such a strong deal, as he's hit .099 with 3 RBIs and 7 hits in 71 at-bats. That is a DIRE start from a former MVP, and it's honestly really upsetting to see.

So in response, the Astros are going with Joey Loperfido, a 1st base prospect from Philadelphia who turned to the dark side upon being drafted by Houston. Loperfido already has 13 home runs and 27 RBIs in 25 games with the Space Cowboys. Considering that this is 13 more homers than the 2020 AL MVP has hit for the major league club, I'd say he's ready. Loperfido seems like a proven slugger who can pop right in here and get back to what he was doing in the minors. The Astros seem really convinced that he can make something happen for this team, and while it's much more complex than 1 guy showing up [Spencer Arrighetti can tell you that], a revitalization of 1st base could definitely help, it's been 30somethings over there for like 10 years.

It will remain to be seen how much impact these two rookies have on these last place teams, but hopefully they can make something happen longer term. Though in Houston's case I'd be fine for them tanking for a little while longer.

Coming Tomorrow- I'd be madder if a guy who WASN'T talented was hitting home runs off my team. 

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