Colorado Rockies improved to 91 wins in 2018 against 87 wins in 2017. This year was perceived as a disappointment even though the paper says they won 91 games and lost the NL West tie breaker in game 163. Let’s dig in a little deeper as to why 91 wins were not enough in the minds of the seam heads and RWOers.
The pitching staff has come through with flying colors keeping the games close to give the Rockies a chance to win. It took some adjusting in the first half to finally figure out the roles in the bullpen. Scott Oberg and D.J. Johnson showed up while Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw, Mike Dunn, and Carlos Estevez disappeared. Chris Rusin of August/September will hopefully continue through the entire 2019 season. The rotation was stout with a few hiccups here and there from the back end.
As we can imagine, there is no way the Rockies win 75 games without pitching. Roster construction was a disaster and that was a major reason for the perceived failure of the 2019 team. They were the worst offensive team in franchise history.
It began with the front office head scratching moves. Before I start ranting, they do deserve credit for finally having the best pitching staff who can pitch at altitude. Good pitching is forecast to continue a few more seasons.
My list of roster construction deficiencies: (some of my comments may not be accurate but you get the drift)
- Ian Desmond – the worst wRC+ of all MLB players. And blocking everyone at first base.
- Signing CarGo late in the spring training. Blocking yet more players while there were more potentially better free agents out there.
- Bench players – Pat Valaika or any Dodgers hitter on their bench? Carrying three catchers? All of them black holes at bottom of hitting lineup.
- Making Gerardo Parra everyday outfielder. He is much better as fourth outfielder.
- Not letting Ryan McMahon, Tom Murphy, and Raimel Tapia get their opportunities.
- Standing pat at trade deadline. Phillies, Brewers, Dodgers, and everyone not Rockies went out and got upper shelf players.
- Failure to fire Duane Espy as hitting coach. Hitting is not about individual mechanics; it’s all about adjusting your expectations to help team.
This is my plan to make the team better in 2019 as an armchair general manager:
- Let CarGo go; he’s too old and his long swings can’t catch up to 94+ fastballs.
- Let DJLM walk; make Garret Hampson the second baseman.
- Put Ian Desmond on bench as super utility player and let McMahon play first base everyday.
- Get rid of all catchers and get some new catchers – Yasmani Grandal? Realmuto?
- Dahl in CF; Blackmon in RF.
- Trade Nolan Arenado to the Oakland A’s to get their boatload of talent similar to Holliday trade to A’s. Brendan Rodgers at third base.
- Shot hear around the world! Sign Bryce Harper to five years and put him in LF.
- Fire Duane Espy and hire a hitting coach that understands how we work together as a team.
- Release Jake McGee. See how Shaw pitch in spring training and potentially release him or trade him.
- D.J. Johnson will be in the bullpen. Ditto for Jon Gray. Peter Lambert move into rotation. Or Jeff Hoffman. Bettis in bullpen.
- Tell Marquez, Freeland, Anderson you are starters the whole year.
- Let Ottavino walk. I don’t need 100% of runners on first base stealing second base without a throw from the catcher. GRRRRR.
My plan as an armchair hitting coach:
- Learn how to be a fastball hitter from 85 MPH up to 102 MPH. The idea is to ambush them on the first pitch.
- Learn plate discipline and don’t ever expand the zone to help the pitcher. Make it rare to swing at balls out of the zone. Put the pressure on pitchers.
- Learn how to hit curve balls without taking a step before swing. My idea is to take a step in anticipation of fastball, but if a soft pitch shows up just delay start of your swing. No more being way ahead of pitches. In a side lesson, if you see a ball start low or outside, don’t swing. I saw countless swings at pitches that looked like balls and then break farther away into an extreme ball.
- Learn how to bunt bunt bunt. Even the great hitters. The teams are playing extreme shifts giving hitters a freebie hit, yet they swing into shifts for outs.
- Increased emphasis on pitchers bunting. Too many failed sac bunt attempts.
- Learn how to put balls in play with runners on third and less than two outs. About 80% of third base runners stranded with less than two outs killing any momentums.
- If the ball is over the plate early in the count, swing at them! Too many hitters were taking pitches and getting themselves into two-strike counts. Stats in history of baseball show a very low batting average with two strikes on the batters.
- Lastly, while I do emphasize swinging at pitches early in the count, DO NOT swing at pitches that are uncomfortable. If the pitcher make a good pitch (in on the hands yet it’s a strike), tip our hat to the pitcher and look for another pitch over the plate. In other words, know when to ambush the first fastball. Meaning really ambush it, not fist jam into easy outs. Look at the video of Astros in 2017. They ambushed a lot of fastballs on the first pitch.
This new post will serve as RWO’s comments thread throughout the hot stove season to the end of 2018. New post will be up for 2019. This thread can be used to discuss my armchair ideas.