Rockies Mailbag: Who’s on the trading block? What grade do the Rox deserve?

Rockies Mailbag: Who’s on the trading block? What grade do the Rox deserve?

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Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies- or MLB-related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

We’re well on our way to being sellers this year. Who do you think might be on the trading block at the deadline?

— Mark, Arvada

Mark, as you know, the Rockies have often been reluctant to make trades. But general manager Bill Schmidt threw a changeup last summer when he traded veterans: first baseman/designated hitter Mike Moustakas, relievers Pierce Johnson and Brad Hand, first baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Randal Grichuk.

So, I’ll be interested to see what the Rockies do in late July. Their most coveted player would be third baseman Ryan McMahon, but I don’t see them trading “RyMac.” Second baseman Brendan Rodgers remains a possibility, but I don’t know if they would get a lot for him.

With veteran catchers Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings performing well, I could see the Rockies trading one of them.

Schmidt has been reluctant to trade prospects, but he’s not ruling it out. Perhaps the Rockies could create a combo package.

The Rockies, of course, are always looking for starting pitching. Yet that presents an interesting dilemma. German Marquez (due back from Tommy John surgery before the All-Star break), Cal Quantrill and lefty Austin Gomber are all scheduled to become free agents after next season. If the Rockies’ brass honestly doesn’t think the team can win next season, would they consider trading those pitchers?

For example, suppose a team made an excellent offer for Gomber. Don’t the Rockies have to listen? Then again, maybe the Rockies think they can be a playoff team in 2025.

Should the Rockies look to extend Cal Quantrill?

— Steve, Albuquerque, N.M.

Steve, your question nicely piggybacks on our first question. Quantrill didn’t choose to come to Colorado; he was part of a trade with the Guardians. But he’s become a popular teammate, and he’s pitching well. He seems to like Colorado, but he’ll also be looking for a career contract when he becomes a free agent after the 2025 season.

It’s a tricky situation. Plus, he said something interesting after his last start.

“What’s really important to me is playing for a winning franchise,” he said.

He wasn’t taking a shot at the Rockies. He was saying that winning is more important than his individual success. But Quantrill might not want to stick around if the Rockies don’t improve significantly.

Still, if Quantrill continues to pitch well and his right shoulder stays healthy, the Rockies should investigate an extension through 2026 or ’27.

What letter grade would you assign the Rockies for their results and efforts at this point of the season? And what needs to happen to receive a better grade? And coming up at the one-third mark of the season, what, if anything, has been positive about this year’s Rockies club?

— Ed Helinski, Auburn, N.Y.

Ed, if you had asked me that question three weeks ago, my grade would have been an F. No question.  And while the Rockies are on pace to finish 58-104, there have been some positives over the last few weeks. The starting pitching, especially lefty Austin Gomber and right-hander Cal Quantrill, has been terrific in May.

The team is playing excellent defense. There are some bright spots on offense, namely third baseman Ryan McMahon (.288/.370/.490 slash line, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs), shortstop Ezequiel Tovar (.283/.316/.461, seven homers, 23 RBIs), catchers Elias Diaz (.304/.349/.437, four homers, 23 RBIs) and Jacob Stallings (.323/.408/.508, three homers, 13 RBIs), and center fielder Brenton Doyle (.269/.316/.461, seven homers, 23 RBIs).

As I predicted, the bullpen has been a disaster, costing the Rockies a bunch of games, many times in heartbreaking, crazy fashion.

The Rockies’ offense, especially veterans Kris Bryant and Charlie Blackmon, must be more consistently productive to enhance the team’s grade.

For now, I’ll give the Rockies a D.

When are the Rockies going to fire Bud Black? How can a former pretty decent pitcher be so bad at managing a bullpen? PLEASE. A Magic 8 Ball could choose which pitchers to bring in and be better than Black. What else do you need a manager for anyway? I guess somebody has to explain all the blown leads to you, the media.

— Edward Benjamin Jr., Denver

Edward, I knew this question was coming from somebody. So thanks. I think.

First of all, Black is not going to be fired. Will he decide not to return as manager next year? That’s possible. It’s also possible the Rockies won’t extend his contract.

Black is not perfect. No manager is. There have been times when Black has pulled a starter too soon and handed a close game over to the bullpen — with bad results.

I also think fans would appreciate more candor from Black when we — the damn media — ask him questions after the bullpen blows a game. But Black’s not wired that way. He’s always going to protect his guys.

Regarding the bullpen, let me toss a question back at you. Who would you suggest he use in the late innings? I’m all ears. If there is a savior in the relief corps, I’d love to know who it is.

Black has tried Justin Lawrence, Jalen Beeks, Tyler Kinley and Jake Bird in late-inning roles. They have all melted down more than once.

Are the Rockies good enough at developing hitters at the major league level? The last contention window was opened by players who significantly outperformed their minor league numbers (Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado), but our current batch of young hitters is a mixed bag of those who have improved (Ryan McMahon, Brenton Doyle and Ezequiel Tovar to a degree), those yet to reach their potential (Brendan Rodgers and Elehuris Montero) and those yet to find traction in the majors (Michael Toglia, Jordan Beck and Hunter Goodman) — to say nothing of the severely sophomore slumping Nolan Jones.

— Isaac, Fort Collins

Isaac, that’s a fair critique. In recent years, the Rockies have not done a very good job of developing their hitters. I’m a bit mystified as to why.

From everything I’ve been told, Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens is a smart, respected big-league hitting coach. The Rockies also have some astute hitting instructors throughout the organization.

It could be that the organization has picked the wrong players in the draft. Toglia, a first-round pick, is still toiling at Triple-A because he hasn’t been able to make the grade in the majors. Rodgers is hitting for a decent average, but he’s never become the impactful hitter the Rockies expected him to become. Those are two first-round picks that have been disappointments.

It’s a little early, but who do you think will be our All-Star Game representative this year? I see four possibilities: Ryan McMahon, Elias Diaz, Austin Gomber and Cal Quantrill.

— Miles, Commerce City

Mile, isn’t it crazy that we’re discussing so many potential All-Stars for a team with a .358 winning percentage? You picked four strong candidates, but I’d add a fifth: shortstop Ezequiel Tovar.

Realistically, the Rockies will only land two players on the National League team. This is how I’d rank them: McMahon, Gomber, Diaz, Tovar and Quantrill

But as you said, it’s still early.

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