Toronto Blue Jays

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Troy Tulowitzki’s greatness is not a Coors Field creation


Any hitter would benefit greatly from playing half his games at Coors Field, which is the most hitter-friendly ballpark in modern baseball history and dramatically inflates batting averages and power numbers across the board.

However, the tendency to dismiss a Rockies hitter’s strong overall numbers because half of them were compiled at Coors Field often misses the mark and Troy Tulowitzki is a prime example.

Tulowitzki has benefited tremendously from calling Coors Field home, batting .321 with a .951 OPS there for his career compared to .276 with an .817 OPS on the road. However, even ignoring those amazing home numbers and looking strictly at his still-strong road numbers would leave Tulowitzki as the best-hitting shortstop in baseball.

First, here are the highest OPS totals by a shortstop since 2013:

.929 – Troy Tulowitzki
.798 – Jhonny Peralta
.752 – Jed Lowrie
.738 – Jose Reyes
.735 – Ian Desmond

And now here’s what that list looks like if you separate Tulowitzki’s road numbers from his overall numbers:

.929 – Troy Tulowitzki overall
.832 – Troy Tulowitzki only on the road
.798 – Jhonny Peralta
.752 – Jed Lowrie
.738 – Jose Reyes
.735 – Ian Desmond

Toss in the fact that most hitters tend to fare better at home than on the road and Tulowitzki’s non-Coors Field performance looks even more impressive. He’s the best-hitting shortstop in baseball regardless of whether you want to make adjustments for Coors Field-inflated production or simply ignore his home numbers completely.

He’ll put up huge numbers in Toronto too.

Why in the heck weren’t the Mets all over that Tulowitzki action?


Second-guessing trades is kind of cheap in that (a) anyone can do it; (b) hindsight is 20/20; and (c) the central conceit of all such second-guesses is that there was some open auction for a player in which anyone could participate as opposed to a handful of texts and phone calls and human subjectivity and emotion and weirdness affecting the outcome. Put differently, saying “why didn’t so-and-so make that deal?!” is fraught with complications because it rarely if ever is as simple as that.

That said, why in the hell didn’t the Mets get in on that Troy Tulowitzki action?

Distilled to its essence, the Rockies gave up Tulowitzki for $50 million or so in salary relief and some not-at-all sure thing pitching prospects, Jeff Hoffman chief among them. Does it not seem to you that the Mets could’ve topped that? Indeed, making deals in which you ship off a prospect, some organizational depth and $50 million is pretty much page number one of the “What a Big Market Team Should Be Doing” manual. Especially when they are only two back in the division and have a desperate, desperate need for someone like Troy Tulowitzki.

Maybe the Mets never had a chance to make that deal, of course. Maybe at some point over the past several months in which people have reported Colorado and New York to be in contact, the communication lines were dropped and the relationship soured. Maybe the Rockies simply didn’t engage the Mets or any number of other teams who could’ve topped that Blue Jays offer, and decided that, for whatever reason, they REALLY wanted Hoffman and REALLY think Jose Reyes was the key to the deal in some way. We can’t know until the GMs in question write their memoirs.

But I look at this deal from Colorado’s perspective and can’t help but think that they could’ve done better. And I look at it from the Mets (and other teams) perspective and think that they could’ve topped it. And I wonder why in the hell they didn’t.

For the Mets, if they had the opportunity and passed, I wonder if it isn’t because the team, despite its market size and revenue, has operated on a small market budget for years now and that they’re content to continue to do so because no one at the league office is willing to call them on it. For the sake of Mets fans I hope that’s not it. I hope it’s just a matter of the Rockies not picking up the phone and calling them for whatever reason.

The Troy Tulowitzki trade might be the strangest deadline deal ever

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 19:  Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies at bat during a 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Blue Jays lead the majors in runs.

Now, I don’t mean they lead the league in runs by the usual amount, whether it’s 5, 10, 20 or whatever. The Blue Jays LEAD the LEAGUE in RUNS. They’re scoring 5.28 per game. No one is within 70 runs of them. The second highest scoring offense in the league averages 4.65 runs per game.

Of course, far less impressive than the Jays’ offense is their pitching. For that reason, they were supposed to be all over all of the big-name pitchers available this week. Maybe Cole Hamels was out of reach, but Jeff Samardzija was a popular choice. The Padres’ horde, Mat Latos of the Marlins and Mike Fiers of the Brewers were also being talked about.

And if the Blue Jays did go get a bat, it figured to be an outfielder. Preferably one who hits left-handed. 111 of the Jays’ 130 homers this year have come from right-handed hitters, and while they’ve gotten solid production from every spot, the positions on the team with the lowest OPSs to date are left field and center field.

Then there are the Rockies. The Rockies always need pitching. Their most effective starter this year has been 28-year-old Chris Rusin, a Cubs castoff with a 3-4 record and a 4.13 ERA in 65 1/3 innings. Overall, their starters have a 5.12 ERA, which ranks 29th in MLB ahead of only the Phillies. They’re dead last with a 1.52 WHIP and a 1.8 K:BB ratio.

The other thing the Rockies always seem to need to do is to get cheaper. They don’t really like spending money. They’re not very good at it when they do.

None of this would seem to be a likely recipe for a Troy Tulowitzki-for-Jose Reyes trade. To say this one came out of nowhere would be an understatement. No one would have guessed the Blue Jays were in the market for a shortstop. And no one would have imagined that when the Rockies finally traded Tulo, it would be for a player who has a higher annual salary.

Still, as these things tend to do, things seem to make more sense the deeper one digs.

First and foremost, while this will always be referred to as the Tulo-for-Reyes deal, that’s not at all what it’s about. This was a Tulo-for-Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro deal. The Rockies landed two prime arms in return for giving up the game’s preeminent shortstop and taking on a modestly overpaid replacement. A third, as yet undisclosed, prospect is also involved, and the Rockies also parted with veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Reyes was not the focus. The trade would have made more sense on the Rockies’ end if it was just Tulo for the young right-handers, but then, the Blue Jays couldn’t have made that deal without somehow shedding Reyes’s salary in the bargain.

It probably comes as a surprise to many, but Reyes is making more than Tulo right now, just not for quite so long. He’s earning $22 million per year through 2017, with a $22 million option or a $4 million buyout for 2018. Tulo makes $20 million per year through 2019, $14 million in 2020 and then $15 million or a $4 million buyout in 2021. There’s also a $2 million trade kicker on Tulo’s contract. At a minimum, the Jays are absorbing an extra $52 million here, while also picking up three more years of control.

So, Reyes essentially had to be in this deal if the Rockies wanted the prospects. What remains to be seen is whether they’ll hold on to him for a bit or if they’ll flip him right away, opening up shortstop for a quality prospect in Trevor Story. Trading Reyes for a couple of prospects, probably eating some salary in the process, is probably the way to go. In Hoffman and Castro, the Rockies got two guys with top-of-the-rotation upside, though it needs to be noted that the former is coming back from Tommy John surgery and the latter couldn’t hack it as a major league reliever this year. Hoffman has the better chance of fulfilling his potential. Castro, though, has an incredible arm, and even if can’t make it as a starter, he could turn into a fine closer.

For the Blue Jays, well, this was all about making it back to the postseason, even if it materialized in a way that no one expected. Tulowitzki is a better hitter and probably a better defender than Reyes. He is injury-prone, but so is the guy he’s replacing. He’s a clear upgrade. He’d also seem to be a luxury purchase when there are still necessities required. Losing Hoffman and Castro is a big blow to the farm system that they’re going to have to dip right back into in an effort to upgrade their rotation. I’m going to withhold my judgment on whether it was the right move until seeing whether the Jays come away with a quality starter prior to Friday’s deadline.