It’s time, Charlie.
No, not time to hang it up. There’s still a lot of pop left in Charlie Blackmon’s bat. It’s the glove that needs to find a spot on the shelf.
Time for Chuck Nazty to become a full-time Designated Hitter.
Now that the DH has come to the National League, and the Colorado Rockies have the outfield gloves to patrol the vast spaces at Coors Field, there’s a perfect role for the team’s elder statesman. Problem is, he’s reportedly still resistant to the idea of being a hitter only. Blackmon still wants to play in the field. The field just doesn’t want Blackmon any longer.
Truth be told, Charlie should have become a DH several seasons ago. His outfield defense has taken a precipitous drop the past few years, and he’s now a well below average defender (which is the textbook definition for a DH.) Even though it’s later than it should have been, it’s not too late for Charlie to bite down hard on his pride and relinquish his spot in right field.
The Rockies acquired Kris Bryant, and he will presumably handle most of the duty in left field. Young Sam Hilliard is the prototype for a centerfielder in Coors Field: Tall, rangy and lightning fast. He’s got the strong arm and outfield skills to flourish there. Newly acquired Randal Grichuk can play any of the outfield spots, so he’s the natural replacement for Blackmon in right. Problem solved.
Only it’s not going to be that simple, unfortunately. Blackmon has earned some say-so in the matter, and he stubbornly still wants to play the field.
He’s got to watch video and see what the rest of us see: A guy who played centerfield at Coors Field for a lot of years and put a lot of miles on his legs and doesn’t have the needed defensive skills any longer. Blackmon doesn’t run anywhere close to the way he did even four years ago. In a recent spring training game against Kansas City at Talking Stick he was almost thrown out at home while trying to score from second base…on a double.
Pride is a sometimes damaging trait, even when it’s been well earned. Blackmon has the right to feel the way he feels, but you just wish he could look at things a little more objectively, instead of feeling like the DH spot isn’t being “a real baseball player.” You’ve got to wish he would just do what’s best for the ballclub.
David Ortiz – a full time DH – was just elected to the Hall of Fame. Not saying that Chuck will get to Cooperstown, but his accomplishments from this point forward won’t be diminished in the least if he’s “just” the Rockies DH. He’d be helping improve his and the Rockies chances of getting back to the post season. That’s what should matter the most.
Be sure to catch Mark Knudson and Manny Randhawa on the Park Adjusted Rockies Podcast each week, available on all major Podcast platforms.