ROX BACK IN PHOENIX; 162 AHEAD
Carlos Gonzalez, No. 5, “Cargo,” is back to lead the 2018 Colorado Rockies, who’ll seek a second straight appearance in MLB’s post-season, hopefully one that will last more the 4/3 innings. Wade Davis is on from the Cubs to close, Brian Shaw comes over from Cleveland to be a righty set-up guy, and southpaw Jake McGee was resigned to join him, as general manager Jeff Bridich made some big waves back in late autumn when the stove was hot, and it wasn’t hot for long. Chris Ianetta returns to the fold after a brief stint in hostile territory to be the every day catcher.
Gonzalez will play right in an outfield that will also include should-have-been MVP Charlie Blackmon in center and the spark plug Gerardo Parra in left. One might expect projections for a former batting champion and 3-time all-star coming upon the peak of his career at age 32 to be something like .340/40/120, yet the RWO forecasts Gonzalez will actually meet his demise some time in mid-May, expiring I imagine from symptoms of pneumonia, progressive kidney failure, creeping dementia, and apathy. Fortunately, 2016 phenom David Dahl will have just about completed shaking-off the rust of a lost 2017 down in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico by the time Gonzalez conks-out for good, minimizing the tragedy of No. 5’s predicted passing.
Bridich’s reacquisition of Cargo resulted in a “ka-ching ka-ching” effect on the Rockies’ projected lineup, relocating Parra from right to left, and the 70 million dollar man without a position, Ian Desmond, from left to 1st-base, which had been Bridich’s plan ‘A’ all along. Desmond will team with rookie Ryan McMahon to make put-outs of the assists fired across the diamond by the all-world defense consisting of the other-worldly Nolan Arenado at 3rd, Trevor Story at short, and steady DJ LeMahieu at 2nd.
Gonzalez, Blackmon, and Parra comprise a similarly imposing outfield defense, and teamed with Ianetta and back-up catcher/infielder Tony Wolters, a young Rockies’ starting pitching staff gets the benefit of that very strong group of veterans backing them up. Right-hander Jon Gray, he of the infamous 4/3 innings in Phoenix, leads the rotation, which will be filled-out by lefties Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland, and right-handers Chad Bettis and German Marquez. Antonio Senzatela makes the team at the long end of a deep bullpen designed to provide additional comfort to the young group of starters.
In between Senzatela and McGee, Shaw, and Davis, the pen will include right-handers Scott Oberg and Adam Ottavino, warts and all, with left-handers Mike Dunn and the exquisite Chris Rusin rounding-out the staff. Beyond the aforementioned McMahon and Wolters, Pat Valaika returns as a menace off a bench that will be completed by outfielder Mike Tauchman, who came to camp with a plan, and executed it to near perfection.
All-in-all, one can’t help from concluding it’s an impressively imposing group that Bridich was assembled for the manipulations of 2nd-year skipper Bud Black, who returns a staff that includes bench coach Mike Redmond, Bob K’s favorite Duane Espy and Jeff Salazar coaching the hitters, with Steve Foster and Darren Holmes coaching the pitchers. Tony Diaz is back to coach 1st, Stu Cole will again be over at 3rd, Ronnie Gideon is the infield coach, and Aaron Munoz is the bullpen catcher. The trouble for all, as sd carp, now posing as the Prophet of Doom, has made painfully clear, is the competition is equally impressive, and widespread as well. Looking around the league, you can say, well the Braves are still doing a lot of stirring and shaking, the Marlins are in the midst of one of their 5-year purges, the Padres are still in San Diego, and the hated Giants are trying to make a “Yankees of the West” approach work in the latter years of their contention window. But otherwise pretty-much everybody else has reason to be thinking meaningful games in September, and it figures to be a brawl.
I think carp’s being a bit harsh, but I too fear 2018 will be a stutter-step backward for the local 9. I’m calling out 84 wins, a game short of grabbing the outside wild card. The key will be besting the rival Diamondbacks, and of course we get to start with that action at 8:10 MT tonight at Chase Field. Gray (10-4, 3.67 in 2017) gets the call against Arizona’s difficult lefty Patrick Corbin (14-13, 4.03 in 2017). Get a leg-up on the Dbacks and make a run at the lordly Dodgers, then maybe more than 4/3 innings of Rocktober are in the cards.
So OK, sit back, it’s on. Don’t get too comfortable, HERE WE GO!