As a Colorado Rockies fan, I was not too thrilled on November 12, 2008. The Rockies had just traded away their stud left fielder Matt Holliday to the Oakland Athletics for oft-injured pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith. They also acquired a 23-year-old outfielder named Carlos Gonzalez that kept getting sent back and fourth between the A’s and Triple-A Sacramento.
I knew the Rockies weren’t going to be able to sign Holliday long term after he rejected a five-year, $84.5 million contract before the start of the 2008 season. And like most star players on small market MLB teams, they get traded away before they leave via free agency. I was very disappointed in the Rockies organization that they couldn’t ante up the cash to keep Holliday.
Holliday’s stint in Oakland lasted only 93 games before he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Holliday managed to hit .313 with 24 homeruns and 109 RBIs with both ball clubs in 2009. Carlos Gonzalez spent some time down in Triple-A Colorado Springs, but played in 89 games for the Rockies where he batted .284 with 13 HR and 29 runs batted in. This trade looked very lopsided to say the least.
Nearly two years later, I have been eating my words everyday. Matt Holliday has been putting up decent statistics in his first full season with the Cardinals, (25 HR, 88 RBI) but his .302 batting average is the lowest of his career since his rookie year in Colorado where he had a .290 average.
Meanwhile, Carlos Gonzalez is having a breakout year in 2010 batting in front of all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Gonzalez not only has a chance to win the Triple Crown, but also the National League MVP. CarGo leads the National League in batting average (.337), RBIs (100) and his 32 homeruns is good enough for third behind Albert Pujols and Adam Dunn in the NL.
Some skeptics might say that Gonzalez is benefiting from the rarified air of the Rocky Mountains and Coors Field, but they can’t deny that CarGo is a legit five-tool major leaguer.
The Rockies should be prepared to sign Gonzalez long term sooner rather than later. Gonzalez is making a measly $406k to MLB standards and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2012 and won’t be a free agent until 2015. With baseball super agent Scott Boras now representing Gonzalez, its certain he will get a colossal contract.
Lets just hope that history doesn’t repeat itself and the Rockies lose out on CarGo like they did on Holliday. Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot and this is the Colorado Rockies shot at redemption.