Hot Stove Season Ends

Hot Stove Season Ends

The hot stove season has officially ended except for transactions during spring training.  I purchased both the 2017 Bill James Handbook of Baseball and Baseball Prospectus 2017 books.  There was some good information in both of these books that can help us project the 2017 Rockies.  I recommend reading both books as I cannot cover everything in this limited space.

The two popular projection systems varied widely.  Fangraphs’ ZiPS projected Colorado to win 83 games based on cumulative projected team WAR of 35 plus cumulative team plus replacement-level team WAR which is 48.  Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system projected the Rockies to win only 74 games.

Unlike previous spring trainings in franchise history, there are practically no positional battles:  Tom Murphy/Tony Wolters, Ian Desmond/Mark Reynolds(likely to win 25-man spot), DJLM, Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, David Dahl, Charlie Blackmon, and CarGo are the presumptive locks for the position players.  Locks for bench players because of guaranteed contracts are Gerardo Parra and Alexi Amarista both of whom will join catcher and first baseman backups.  That’s four bench players right there and depending if they carry a 12-man or 13-man pitching staff, there might be one more spot.  So the positional players on the fence to break camp with the Rockies are Chris Denorfia and Christian Adames.  It looks like Jordan Patterson will be a victim of the numbers game, but he no doubt will provide depth as the season drags on.

On the pitching side, there appears to be a lot of depth in both the rotation and bullpen.  Some pitchers are obvious while others will have to battle it out.  Early indications have Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson, and Tyler Chatwood in the rotation.  Anything can happen during Cactus League play.  If those four starters hold down their spots, the fifth spot appears up for grabs between Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, and Kyle Freeland.  I heard at the Bud Black Q&A session that Ryan Castellani and Yency Almonte are knocking on the doors if there is an emergency need for them.  I believe the battle will come down to Hoffman and Freeland.  Hoffman has the pedigree (top 50 prospect in most publications) while it has been said that Freeland has nothing left to show in the minors while Hoffman can use a little more seasoning at Albuquerque.

Colorado rolled their dice on the health of the relievers.  Adam Ottovino is the presumptive closer to open the season as he is nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery.  Mike Dunn is not the best healthy reliever available via free agency, but he should bring the veteran presence.  Greg Holland is a high risk/high ceiling signee.  It says a lot about the Rockies front office when they beat out several teams for Holland’s services.  Jairo Diaz is back from the TJ, but he may need a couple of months to get back to 100%.  Jake McGee, if healthy, should be better than 2016 but he is unlikely to see return to his 2014 form.  Jason Motte and Chad Qualls were signed to two-year contracts before the 2016 season as place holders until the contention window opens up.  But the window opened much sooner than expected, so the Rockies may have to eat the sunk cost of both pitchers.  Chris Rusin and Jordan Lyles appear to have the long relief spots.  Scott Oberg and Carlos Estevez gained valuable experience last year.  Miguel Castro and Sam Moll are probably next in line if the bullpen sees attrition.

Baseball Prospectus has Colorado’s farm system ranked at #9.  They were #3 last year but the system graduated a few players to the majors such as Gray, Dahl, and Story.  The Prospectus also had several leaderboards for the various categories.  CarGo and NoDo are top 20 for HRs; Blackmon tied for 16th in runs; DJLM, NoDo, and Blackmon are all in top 20 for batting average; CarGo and NoDo tied for 15th in RBI; Blackmon 17th in stolen bases; nobody in top 20 for OBP; NoDo, CarGo, and Murphy (surprise!) are in top 10 for slugging percentage; Murphy, NoDo, Story, and CarGo all in the top 20 for isolated slugging (whatever that means); Wolters #16 in Runs Above Average (for catchers only); NoDo 9th in WARP for the NL; Patterson (surprise) is #10 for NL’s Rookie WARP; both NoDo and Blackmon in top 10 for biggest WARP decline; there were no pitchers in nearly all of the top 10 statistical categories except for Hoffman #2 in NL rookies’ WARP.

I can’t help but mention Jack Wynkoop once again.  In the summary of prospects further down the pipeline, it quoted, “Don’t scout the statline, but lefty Jack Wynkoop slung a Buehrle-esque mid 80s fastball and struck out 144 batters while walking just 12 in 170.2 innings across two levels.  If I calculate it correctly, that’s 0.63 BB9 walk rate.  And a 12:1 K/BB ratio.   I loved the Mark Buerhle comparison.

Let’s go to my favorite chapter in the Baseball Prospectus book – managers.  It went on and on about the various components of managing the baseball team.   In a nutshell, today’s managers have to work in concert with the upper management due to advanced sabermetrics.  It also had a stat called wRM+.  Quoted from BP: “…created RM and wRM+ in order to better understand the degree to which big-league managers match their best relievers to the game’s biggest moments.”  wRM+ is scaled to 100 ( over 100 good and under 100 bad).  Bud Black had the score of 103.1 which was bettered by only two other managers (Bruce Bochy, of course with his parade of pitchers for each batter in the final three innings and Joe Girardi).  Obviously JB was on to something when he hired Bud Black plus the fact Black had modernized himself as today’s manager. 

Admittedly, I do have huge Purple Shades on, but I am still projecting 90 wins based changing the manager, a lot more depth on both sides of the ball, and lack of regression by the hitters. I remind you, EdtheUmp that you owe me a case of beer when we hit 90 wins.  Also I am adding in the fact that I believe we will steal a lot more bases than PECOTA projections.  Only Blackmon is on the leader board, but it fails to account for Dahl and Story both of whom has potential for 20+ SBs.  There’s a little bit of speed from DJLM and Desmond that can add 10-15 SBs each.  And Black’s wRM+ is worth three wins in my mind.

For the first time, I will be able to attend the Rockies’ spring training in three weeks knowing what to expect.  This year, I do not have to hope the bench and pitchers have a perfect PAT to get us over the hump.  We already have the 40-man roster and up to two NRIs that will replace deadweights.  90 wins, baby! NL West crown, baby!

rockymountainhigh

Hometown - Champaign, IL College - Northern Illinois University, 1988 Sports Editor for my high school newspaper. Travels frequently - I can be found anywhere in the world.

63 Comments

    • sdcarp

      February 13, 2017

      Nice!

      I’d like to touch on this:

      “Baseball Prospectus has Colorado’s farm system ranked at #9. They were #3 last year but the system graduated a few players to the majors such as Gray, Dahl, and Story.”

      You know you’re in a good place when you graduate Gray, Dahl, and Story and still rank in the top 10.

      Reply
    • Bob K.

      February 14, 2017

      They discussed the Pecota rankings on MLB network and pointed out that in the Rockies case, the Pecota prediction is based on every Rockies regressing from what they did last year. They predict that no Rockies player will improve or be as good as last year. Pecota has a hard time with certain teams. One of those teams Is the Baltimore Orioles where the Orioles have consistently outperformed their Pecota projections. They have the Orioles predicted to have a losing record again this year and the unrealisitic projection of the Rays finishing 2nd in the AL East.

      I do not believe that it is realistic to expect every Rockies player to regress this year nor that the regression (if any) will be as bad as Pecota predicts. I believe that with Bud Black as the manager the pitching staff will improve. It is possible that the hitters could regress simply because Blake Doyle was let go. I wasn’t impressed with Duane Espy when he was the hitting coach before and can remember how well his firing was received.

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 14, 2017

        I subscribed to Baseball Prospectus years ago. They were big on PECOTA. Maybe that’s even their system???? I don’t know. But I thought it was awful at the time. Have really paid attention to it since.

        Fundamentally – it seems like attempting to predict the outcome of a team relying on young, high ceiling SPers is risky business in general.

        Reply
      • rockymountainhigh

        February 19, 2017

        I recently read that Espy had the team among the top 10 in drawing free passes. It is my assumption it’s the reason they decided to go with Espy. Parra will be the biggest beneficiary of Espy.

        Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      February 16, 2017

      MLBN having a series of top 100 players. Story #89, DJLM #63; CarGo #60, and Blackmon #36. Arenado is somewhere in top 20 to be revealed Friday.

      Then I watched MLB Tonight. They had about a 5 minute discussion on the Rockies. They liked the idea that Desmond is playing first base because his wRC+ was somewhat higher than all who played first base. They showed the graphics of lineup and pitching.

      As expected Blackmon, DJLM, Arenado, Cargo, Desmond, Dahl, Story, and Wolters. Interesting they listed Wolters instead of Murphy.

      They showed rotation as Gray, Bettis, Anderson, Chatwood, Hoffman, Marquez, and Shane Carle. No Freeland?

      Listed the bullpen and they omitted Jordan Lyles?

      MLBN summed up saying find way to win.games that you should win, meaning beat bad teams and win one- run games. Once the ball gets rolling Rockies can win 87 or 88 games. They added that Bud Black is not the same manager as he was in SD. Better version today. I like MLBN projection system best. 90 wins baby! BB takes us from 85 to 90 wins.

      I’m going to make a call today – Rockies as a team will be top five in stolen bases.

      Reply
      • Bob K.

        February 18, 2017

        Arenado landed in position 12 with 3 other 3rd baseman listed above him. Arenado outperformed all 3 of them but “he is penalized for playing at Coor’s Field”.

        I liked Billy Ripken’s comment that his 4 gold gloves were the “product of Coor’s Field”.

        Reply
      • rockymountainhigh

        February 19, 2017

        Mike Trout #1. Fabulous. I spent a fortune on his autographed jersey and have it framed. It’s now sitting in my baseball cave.

        Trout and Kershaw have been #1 and #2 last five years with Kershaw getting the #1 spot once. Kris Bryant was #3 so that meant five third basemen in top 12.

        Reply
        • Bob K.

          February 19, 2017

          Donaldson was #3, Bryant was #4 and Machado was #7 with Arenado at #12 makes four 3rd baseman in the top 12. I can pretty much guarantee that if the Cubs had picked Gray, Bryant would have fallen to the Rockies. If Bryant had gone to the Rockies, I can guarantee you that he would not be ranked in the top 10. He is on a big market team with lots of publicity. He is not a better third baseman than Arenado. He is not better offensively and is much worse defensively. Machado and Arenado are very close but Donaldson is a product of the park he plays in and the line up that surrounds him. Donaldson was not considered a top 10 player when he was in Oakland and he really hasn’t changed much since then other than he is now playing in a very friendly offensive ballpark with players surrounding him making it difficult to pitch around him.

          Reply
          • rockymountainhigh

            February 19, 2017

            I remember that draft very well. Luke Apple and Jon Gray were projected to go 1-2. Rockies picking third was planning to pluck Kris Bryant. I’m glad it happened that way as we needed pitchers not another third baseman.

            Reply
            • Bob K.

              February 19, 2017

              Appel went first to the Astros who have since traded him and he has not lived up to the hype. If the Rockies had gotten Bryant, my understanding was that they planned to convert him to a 1st baseman. Last year O’Dowd made the claim that they intended to convert him to an outfielder.

    • sdcarp

      February 18, 2017

      Quote from Bud Black (regarding naming a Closer) in this AM’s very good Patrick Saunders article:

      “I think that works best, to have that one guy, because that sort of sets everybody else up,” Black said. “It’s fluid every night, but each guy, when the game starts, knows when they are probably going to pitch. …There is comfort in that.”

      Every year, without fail, there are Managers that claim they’ll use multiple RPers as their Closer. Honestly – this multiple Closer strategy makes sense to me on the surface. But it N-E-V-E-R transpires. So I’ll give kudos to Black here for at least being honest and admitting he’ll do what every other Manager will do – even though there will be a half-dozen other Managers that won’t admit it.

      The article on McGee is worth reading. He’s my “bounce back” pick, because I think (or perhaps “hope” is a better word) that his 2K16 velocity decline was health related. As Ag has pointed out, McGee needs (desperately) his velocity to be effective.

      http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/17/rockies-jake-mcgee-knee-healed-expects-rebound-season/

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 19, 2017

      First – Jared, thanks for running the site and keeping this little community together even through what may be some difficult times for you.
      Second – RMH, nice work on keeping us updated on developments and pumping up the enthusiasm. I do think your projections are on the order of a “best case scenario,” which is why I’ll start digging through the various projections to find a reasonable way for this team to get to 85 wins, which in the two-wildcard world = real contender.
      Third – Bob K., regarding Arenado: there’s some really good third basemen in baseball now! Machado/Donaldson/Arenado – not a whole lot to choose among them, so I wouldn’t take this as a knock on Arenado. Of course, he can take that next step forward and separate himself from the pack this year …
      Fourth – Carp, re Miguel Castro: he’s still the guy I liked better in the Tulo deal (I’ve never been sold on Hoffman as more than a mid-rotation guy … hey, whatever happened to our old buddy Donny Dinger who used to get into it with me over Hoffman?). Nothing would please me more than seeing Castro bump Motte or Qualls into DFA land.

      Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      February 19, 2017

      Watching MLBN last week they were talking about pitchers and the injuries. They think it was because they wanted to be in as many showcases as possible and pitch in the off seasons.

      That’s why the Rockies are extremely happy with Riley Pint. He bypassed all the showcases cuz he understands it’s not worth the injury risks.

      I can say the same for Wynkoop. Very low injury risk. I don’t think Greg Maddox nor Mark Buerhle hit 90 too often. Neither has been injured.

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 19, 2017

      A brief note on Chris Rusin: I keep hearing that he’s very good as a reliever, very marginal as a starter. That’s why most guys wind up in the bullpen! In general, moving from starter to reliever usually causes a pitcher to get “better” to the tune of almost one run of ERA (last I checked it was about 0.8 runs per 9 innings). Rusin last year (by fielding independent pitching): 3.99 as a starter, 2.92 as a reliever. We can expect Jordan Lyles will be better as a reliever too even if he is the same old Jordan Lyles. Mostly this is explained by not ever seeing a hitter a 3rd time when working in relief (and for some late inning guys, not even a 2nd time). So while it’s true that it wouldn’t be ideal to have Rusin in the rotation, it’s important to remember that that’s not because you’re “losing” some really effective reliever that you’d otherwise have. So we should all hope that somebody — Hoffman, Freeland, Marquez – steps up and grabs that role this spring. (Oh, and that the other 4 guys stay healthy …)

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 19, 2017

        Couple of things here Ag. First, I’ve read quotes from Black suggesting he’s receptive to using Hoffman/Marquez/Freeland in the Pen as a transitional bridge to the Major Leagues as well as out of need. I’ve written many times on this website that I’m an old Earl Weaver fan and think this strategy should be used more often. So “bravo” to Black for being receptive to this.

        Second – I’ve promised myself that I’m done being a Lyles apologist. But damn it, I can’t quite kick the habit. The one (and only) redeeming quality I saw in Lyles last season was extremely good velocity in short stints, or in the 1st inning of his handful of ill-fated starts. The guy has a live arm…..but has a Matzek “like” head. Perhaps pitching in relief, just throwing one pitch (two max) and just facing a handful of batters will simplify things for him. It better….he’s at the end of his rope. In an ideal world, Lyles will be good enough in ST to trade (and help the 40 man roster “crunch”).

        I’m sort of guessing we’ll ultimately align Gray > Anderson > Chatwood > Bettis > 5th starter. We begin the season with 14 consecutive games. So we’ll need a 5th starter immediately. A case can be made for Rusin (and Freeland) in the 5th slot simply because they’re left handed and therefore help balance the rotation. But…..I agree with you. Ideally, one of Hoffman/Marquez/Freeland takes command in ST and wins the 5th spot with authority.

        Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 21, 2017

      As if RMH’s enthusiasm for the 2017 season needs to be stoked any more, FanGarphs Eno Sarris came out with his 10 bold predictions for 2017 today. Lo and behold, he’s a high as RMH on the Rox:

      “2. The Rockies will finally have the pitching to make the postseason.
      At the top of the rotation, the Rockies may have one of their best pitchers ever this year. Jon Gray was already pretty good (15th in K-BB% last year), and then he learned how to throw his slider two ways, and then he started throwing the curveball more, and now he has a new changeup grip. He’s exciting as a young ace with velocity, an elite slider, and the makeup to continue striving for a better, more complete arsenal.

      But this is more about the lesser-known names behind Gray. Tyler Anderson doesn’t have a ton of pitches, but his cutter/four-seam/change combo has proven itself to be major-league worthy at least. Chad Bettis only has average velocity, but his four-pitch combo has kept hitters off balance enough to call him a viable starter, as well. Tyler Chatwood may only have the two fastballs and a slider, but he throws the curve sometimes, and his sinker is all world. All three are adept at getting ground balls, and the rotation just put up their second-best rate since they started tracking that number.

      Even better is the fact that they’ve finally put together a decent group beyond that top four. Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez were just ranked the third- and fourth-best prospects in the organization and given 55 future-value ratings by Eric Longenhagen, suggesting they could become above-average regulars. Both pitched in the major last year and are joined by erstwhile Denver starters Chris Rusin and Jordan Lyles. All in all, the group looks like the sixth-best in the league for depth.

      Oh, and they’ll all play up just a little because the Rockies could have the best pitch-framing catcher tandem in their history.”

      Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      February 22, 2017

      I’m grinning ear to ear. But Ag as usual is going to rain on my enthusiasm. LOL.

      Who’s going to Arizona and when? I’ll be there 4th through 11th. EdtheUmp will be there Friday and stay through most of the month.

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 22, 2017

      RMH, you gotta admit I’ve shown remarkable discipline in not raining on your enthusiasm … at least so far. And that will continue for a while, although I did see Greg Holland on a local TV spring training spot talking (not entirely convincingly) about how he isn’t concerned about velocity, he just wants to feel good and make his pitches …

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 23, 2017

        He’s making Charlie Blackmon look good at the moment (3 HRs off Holland in BP yesterday).

        I’ll be in Phoenix this weekend. March schedule is just too busy to go down during “prime time” Spring Training this season.

        Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 23, 2017

      I’m actually envious of you, Carp. I never get to go to spring training until the tail end, when all the interesting players have been sent off to minor league camp and teams are just setting their rotations, etc. I hope you can give us a scouting report on Holland when you’re down there. I have a feeling he’ll be starting the year on the DL, then a rehab assignment, then maybe some semblance of his former self by June?

      Reply
    • roxnsox

      February 24, 2017

      I’ve never been able to go to Spring Training! I look forward to scouting reports and anecdotes from you who will. Also, I realized I haven’t seen Jairo Diaz on any of the projected rosters – is he not ready after surgery, or…..?

      Reply
      • Bob K.

        February 24, 2017

        Jairo Diaz will most likely start the season on the 60 day DL.. His time frame should be similar to what Ottavino went through last year.

        Reply
    • sdcatp

      February 25, 2017

      DEEP in the backfirlds with what is likely the Lancaster group. Brendan Rodgers is bad ass!

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 25, 2017

        Ha – now that I’m in the shade and can see what my fat fingers typed, make that “backfields” and “sdcarp.”

        Full report, mostly spelled correctly, tonight.

        Reply
    • Bob K.

      February 25, 2017

      Looks like Story is back in form. Rockies lead 6 – 3 in top of 4th with no outs. Story hits solo home run followed by walk to Parra and triple by Wolters.

      Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 25, 2017

      Spent the day at SRF. Eyewitness account and thoughts:

      Found my way over to the back, back fields early and watched a group that is likely (mostly) bound for high A, AA. Prime, Mundell, Rodgers, etc. Rodgers has the “it” factor. Dynamic, fast twitch athlete. Great hands. Fielded everything soft in front of him bare handed. Quick bat. Surprising power. Not physically imposing. He’s not going to be a big guy. Seemed very at ease. Personable. Already a leader at 19?

      The game:

      Standouts:

      Ian Desmond. Looks great at first. Fielded the position with ease, including one difficult grounder. Still cat quick. Stood next to Goldschmidt a couple of times (I think he was 3-3, so he had some QT with Goldy) and he’s almost as big as Goldy.

      Jordan Lyles. Crazy, I know. Came in, threw 12 pitches between 95-82. In total command. In front of each hitter. I was psyched he only threw 1 inning. Clear sign he’s in RP mode. That’s his best chance.

      Tony Wolters – need I say more? He’s also been in the weight room.

      Miguel Castro – not as “in command” as Lyles, but electric. Hit 96, but made a couple of guys look silly at 82.

      Trevor Story – like Wolters, he’s been in the weight room. Just looks at ease.

      Antonio Senzatela – quick, efficient, poised. Hit 95 on the stadium gun several times.

      The overmatched – Moll, Vastro, Carasiti, Mark Reynolds. Moll has a nice, low maintenance, compact delivery. But just doesn’t seem to the have the velocity or deception to make it work. Carasiti doesn’t fool anyone. He had a couple of LOUD outs.

      The DBacks – they have 5-6 real frontline players. Goldy, Pollack, Lamb, Drury looks really good, Ahmed defensively. But really drop off after those top guys. Their BP doesn’t look promising either.

      For those at ST, the minor leaguers typically get Sunday’s off. So little or no backfield action tomorrow. I’ll probably head to Surprise for the KC/Texas game, and then catch the Rox @ Glendale (LAD) Monday.

      If you have questions……..ask!

      Reply
      • rockymountainhigh

        February 25, 2017

        If you have a chance I want to see how Castellani and Almonte look.

        Also check out Jordan Patterson. Does he look the same as Ben Paulsen or is he an upgrade? And please evaluate Ryan McMahon and see if he’s good enough to move up to Albuquerque.

        Reply
        • sdcarp

          February 26, 2017

          I think I’ll head to Glendale today (instead of Surprise). Almonte is scheduled to pitch. No McMahon. Patterson played. The guy is huge. Looks to stiff.

          Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 25, 2017

      Carp, I love it – RWO has its own scout in place at SRF! A couple questions:

      – Senzatela: obviously the big thing is he’s healthy, getting 2 inning right out of the box. Last year in spring training he showed a live arm/good fastball movement, but kind of average velocity (looks like that’s come up a bit) and absolutely no usable second pitch. I think he buried a couple sliders in the dirt just to show he had one. I know he’s probably working on fastball command, etc., now, but I have to ask – did he flash anything else?

      Lyles: also good to see the velocity up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a perfectly decent bullpen guy.

      Moll/Vasto: they probably saw mostly late innings scrubs. Neither is likely going to be anything other than a backup LOOGY candidate this year (in case McGee goes all 2016 on us), so my question is … pedestrian stuff, but is there any deceptiveness in delivery, etc., that would tell you “this guy may play in MLB as a lefty specialist?” I haven’t seen either guy pitch, so I’m curious.

      Keep ’em coming, Carp! Can’t wait to get down there (school breaks come way too late) and to get this season underway …

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 26, 2017

        Senzatela – hit 95 several times, but didn’t show the ridiculous 95-82 differential speed that Lyles and Castro did. But he did look very easy throwing 95.

        Absolutely, positively no deception in Molls delivery. None. Vasto no much different.

        I’m telling you, Lyles and Castro were the stars yesterday. Castro has the highest ceiling of anyone in the Pen. But he’s raw. Still skinny as a rail. When he threw an 82 mph change after a low 96 mph fastball, it was comical. He Tapia both exude a little bit of Latin “attitude” that I like.

        Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      February 25, 2017

      Didn’t anyone noticed Parra had a free pass! I know it’s one game but did he look patient at the plate?

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 26, 2017

        Not really RMH. Seemed like Parra. At one point, Parra was on first, and the pitcher threw over. Parra dove back in easily. He whipped his dirty hand on Goldy’s pants leg. I think it annoyed Goldy.

        Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 26, 2017

      Today’s Report from Glendale:

      Pat Valaika is an interesting guy. Drafted in 2013. Has come through the system playing some combination of SS and 2nd and recently 3rd. He’s played 3rd the last 2 days and looks very comfortable defensively. Valaika can pass as Story’s brother. He’s a little thicker than Story. Generates good power from the waist down (gluts/quads/hamstrings). Homered today. Has a nose for the game. Good instincts. In my opinion, he’s as viable as Amarista/Reynolds for a utility role. Keep an eye on him.

      I don’t want to hear anyone say we have a crowded 40 man roster as long as Rafael Ynoa is on it.

      Rox had multiple scouts with guns at today’s game in Glendale. All were keenly in tune to each pitch Jose Quintana threw. Just saying. BTW – Quintana looked pro.

      My first time at Camelback Ranch. Love it. Free parking. Free program. Cheaper tickets than SRF. Very low key. Very not what I would expect for a 50% Dodgers owned facility.

      No stadium radar gun. Based solely on eye test, I’d rate today’s SPers Carle > Musgrave > Marquez. That’s right. That will likely start a little tizzy. Talk amongst yourselves. After those guys, a parade of RPers. Estevez looked great. Johendi Jiminian and Austin House combined for a rough 8th inning. Rayon Gonzalez pitched the 9th and looked OK at times, but had a balk (correct call). Joe Dirt (Brendan Rodgers) pinch ran for Story in the 6th, stayed in, and doubled in the 8th. As noted yesterday, he has the “it” factor in spades.

      It seems as though there’s been an urgent pitching memo sent (and received). Work quick, be efficient, no walks. Carle gave up a walk, but was ultimately hurt by a Ynoa throwing error. Otherwise, pretty clean game by our pitchers. Even the rough Jiminian/House 8th could have been saved had Wes Rogers made a great catch in CF. He couldn’t, and was correctly not charged with an error……but it was a makable play. Also, Mike Tauchman had a HR mistakenly called a double.

      Back at Glendale tomorrow for the Rox/Dodgers game. But I’ll spend the AM on the SRF backfields prior to heading west across town.

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 26, 2017

      Carp, keep ’em coming … First, I have to ask: you say it went Carle > Musgrave > Marquez. Why? Is it a question of how “polished” they are (in which case your rating wouldn’t be surprising), or was it a question of exactly how good (overrated?) Marquez’s stuff may be?

      Second, going back to the LOOGY derby: I tend to look at guys like Moll and Vasto differently than I’d look at a Marquez (guy who projects by most as a #2/#3 starter), or even a Jairo Diaz (stuff to be a setup man/closer). These LOOGY candidates are either guys who were drafted/signed as starters or at least full-inning bullpen guys (Moll) who showed a significant problem in the low minors (usually inability to put away righties), or they’re under the radar guys like Vasto who never demonstrated the talent to take a prominent role, but who raised a few eyebrows with notable success (generally vs. lefties) in the lower minors. So we’ve got one of each. I like the LOOGY prospects with something quirky in a delivery or a certain pitch that makes them weirdly effective vs. lefties, so I’m a little disappointed to hear that you didn’t see that in either Moll or Vasto. Oh well. The thing with these guys is sometimes they’ll develop something that makes them stand out. It annoys me to no end that the Dodgers seem to have found one of those in Grant Dayton, who was pretty dominant as a lefty specialist in a short stint last year. He had a completely undistinguished minor league career before they scouted/traded for him … they would have to be good at this scouting thing IN ADDITION to having a huge payroll just to make life as a Rockies fan a little more frustrating still.

      Valaika: who knows, maybe a late bloomer. A lot of these guys fill out physically later on. I’d rather see almost anyone than Ynoa or Amarista for that matter, but Bud seems to have a man crush on Armarista so I think he’ll stick.

      Tapia: On a similar point (and please excuse me since I know I’ve said it before) – there’s a really good chance that a Tapia type c. 20 years ago would’ve been juicing/would’ve filled out/would’ve suddenly developed real power to go with those impressive contact skills. But it’s a good thing that doesn’t happen much anymore. But the truth is Tapia always brings to my mind that old saying, “You’ll never walk your way off this island.” Swinging at everything/never drawing a walk is o.k. if you can drive those pitches you somehow manage to get the bat on. Not so good if you spray them around for singles. Also not so good if your speed somehow doesn’t translate into being a really good outfielder who can handle CF, or a guy who gets a lot of hits but doesn’t seem to have basestealing skills. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m still a Tapia skeptic.

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 26, 2017

        Ag – regarding the first question, my ranking is based on “stuff” and perceived velocity (no stadium radar gun). Carle looked the best of the three (but is probably the least polished). Musgrave’s velocity also looked really good – especially coming from the left side.

        Regarding Tapia – I think you’re on to something. I question if he’ll be able to take the next physical step, and I also perceive a little lack of maturity that may hold him back at this level. Quintana hit him in the first inning, and honestly, it looked like Tapia pouted the rest of the game. Perhaps I’m interpreting his body language incorrectly. If so, I apologize.

        Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 26, 2017

      Interesting. I’m looking forward to the World Baseball Classic (Quintana will be on Colombia’s team). It’s been a little uneven the last couple times after a widely ignored but really fantastic debut back in … 2005 I guess? Our old friend JDLR is on Mexico’s team again, and of course Arenado and McGee represent the USA. Rox (and everyone else) scouting Quintana … if they get him, all of a sudden this season turns from “we really shouldn’t be out of it by July” to “hey, maybe there’s really something happening here.”

      Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 27, 2017

      Today’s Report:

      Great access at SRF early this AM. Watched the pitching group do a general warm-up. Very loose, cohesive group. Motte/McGee/Estevez/and Castro looked as though they were especially having fun.

      Watched Senzatela throw a bullpen. He looked great, and seem enthused when complete.

      Caught the last few pitches of what was no doubt a short batting practice thrown by Jairo Diaz. He and Darren Holmes talked extensively afterwards. He came away looking very enthused and got some serious thumbs ups from teammates.

      Watched a pitching group take BP. Bettis and Chatwood have good bat control. Tyler Anderson has a live bat, but really has no idea where it’s going! Rusin average. Kyle Freeland – not so good. Anderson just seems to be having fun. He’s focused. Attended the afternoon game, even though he wasn’t on the roster.

      Caught the end of the major league batting practice. Parra threw some balls to a little kid afterwards (maybe his son?). It was great.

      Watched the minor leaguers for about 30 minutes. They were really just getting started as I had to leave to go across town to Glendale.

      I’ll say this about practice – as opposed to previous years I’ve attended – the vibe seems more positive. Loser. I’ll stop short of “swagger.” But it feels a little different.

      The game at Gendale:

      Dodgers – Cody Bellinger passes the look test. Logan Forsythe will make them a better team. Yasmani Grandal is not defensively impressive. Joc Pederson – for a young guy – hasn’t gotten bigger. Puig is Puig. Had a bloop single that was a miscommunication between Amarista and Denorfia (should have been an EASY out). Puig’s grandma could have made it to 2nd, but Puig loafed to 1st.

      Bud Black is going to love Wolters. TFW stopped everything in the dirt, threw out a runner attempting to steal 2nd, and had a HR. Ho-hum. As noted 2 days ago, TFW has also been in the weight room. It looks like he could do to 10 squat reps of a Yugo.

      Gray was fairly sharp. Hit Cory Saeger on inside pitch. They’ll see a lot of each other a lot this year.

      Hoffman today was better than Marquez yesterday IMO. He did have 1-BB, also had some bad defense behind him. Oberg had to get his 6th out.

      Jake McGee – changed speeds relentlessly. 1-BB. Looked good. Sorry – no stadium gun.

      Sam Howard – 2 IP. Only one hard hit ball. Under-the-radar impressive.

      Ryan McMahon, like Cody Bellinger, passes the look test.

      Jordan Patterson had HR, but looks stiff to me.

      Pat Valaika – 2 more hits.

      CC Lee – sort of fits the Asian stereotype pitcher. Looked good. Decent velocity from a small, low effort windup/delivery.

      Matt Carasiti doesn’t fool people.

      Bud Black has a “presence” that WW just doesn’t have. I could sense it this AM in interactions with players. I saw it in the line-up card exchange with umpires pre-game. Black controlled that entire conversation. Not sure this is tangible. Definitely isn’t measurable. But it’s real, and noticeable.

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 27, 2017

      For today’s essay question: is Jordan Patterson is not so good looking clone of Seth Smith, or is he Ben Paulsen’s brother from a different mother? Discuss.

      Lefty corner outfielders.
      Age 24 AAA seasons:
      Smith – 17 HRs, .909 OPs
      Patterson – 14 HRs, .856 OPS, and that was in a somewhat lower run scoring environment (2016 vs. 2007; Albuquerque vs. Colorado Springs)

      Patterson: pretty significant platoon splits, .734 vs lefties, .903 vs. righties
      Smith: minor league splits aren’t available for such ancient history, but we all know he was pretty much a platoon player his entire MLB career.

      Now Seth Smith actually overperformed in MLB based on his minor league stats. So maybe this is Patterson’s ceiling, not his realistic projection.

      Because check out Paulsen. We’ll have to go to his Age 25 season to get the AAA comparison:

      18 HRs, .867 OPS
      .641 OPS against lefties, .946 against righties. So in retrospect … even a better platoon 1B candidate than Smith or Patterson?

      My guess: 1 in 3 chance Patterson is the second coming of Seth. But a 2 in 3 chance he’s Big Ben’s baby Jordan. Wouldn’t it be nice if he could emerge this spring, take over 1B in a platoon with Reynolds, and free Ian Desmond to send Gerardo Parra packing for a player to be named later and a tiny bit of salary relief?

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 28, 2017

        Ag – there’s a mildly spirited debate going on over at PR regarding just “who” Jordan Patterson is, and will become. The name Ben Paulsen has come up, Seth Smith hasn’t. Someone is throwing around the “young” version of Charlie Blackmon.

        I don’t see it (with my eyes). I see maybe some sort of cross between Paulsen and Drew Stubbs (minus the speed, minus the RHed-ness). I’ve been trying to think of a non-Rockies comp and just can’t come up with one.

        Also, based on what I saw, Desmond is at 1st, and will be at 1st everyday. And….he’ll be good. Really good. The best way to move Desmond off 1st some will be to have Ryan McMahon really blossom at 1B in ABQ during the 1st half of 17. If that occurs, and Parra struggles, we’ll revisit this in late June.

        Here’s today’s essay question for you – find a comp for Pat Valaika. I thinks he’s as likely as Patterson to make the Club. I’ve been scratching my head over this one as well. Jedd Gyorko @ StL is who I come up with in a pinch.

        Guys (and girls) – get excited. This group is good.

        Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 28, 2017

      Patterson – the reason I think he’s more likely Paulsen than Seth Smith is the strikeout rate. Seth managed to produce the same power in AAA striking out about 14% of the time as opposed to about 23% for Patterson. And from a scouting perspective, that had to do with Smith shorter/quicker swing. But I haven’t given up on Patterson by any means. A guy with a reasonable chance of being a solid platoon corner player is still a decent prospect.

      Valaika – Carp, I’ll defer to you here since you’re actually seeing him play. Obviously the Rox coaching staff sees something in him that isn’t showing up in minor league performance, where he’s been pretty unremarkable. From a pure stats perspective, I’d be pretty skeptical about him having any kind of impactful MLB career.

      On an unrelated point – the team building thing kind of reminds me of those rookie hazing days of Jeff Francis/Matt Holliday, etc. And that turned out pretty well, didn’t it … this is clearly the best crop of young talent we’ve seen since those days, and the players seem to know it.

      Reply
    • sdcarp

      March 1, 2017

      We’re not even a week into Spring Training games, but it’s already apparent the level of pitching (and competition for spots) is at higher level than previous Springs. Attending practices in person – I was immediately impressed by the volume of pitchers that passed the look test. Granted….the look test is subjective and doesn’t mean squat when the guy toes the rubber. But I like the trend I’m seeing.

      Reply
    • roxnsox

      March 2, 2017

      Every year lately, as Opening Day prices rise, I sigh and say “This is the year that Opening Day Tradition dies.” Every year, I give in. After all, I’ve missed ONE Opening Day in 25 years, and it’s one of my very favorite things in life. And I’m still physically able to do it, which will not always be the case, and still semi-financially able (which will not always be the case after I retire in a year or two, unless I go hungry part of that month 😉 So – just got my tickets in my usual/favorite area (left, field level). Feeling pretty fine. Maybe even a little extra fine, with all the rising hopes.

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        March 2, 2017

        Good for you! That’s quite a record, 24 out of the last 25 years. I’ve NEVER been to an Opening Day. I’m a big sissy. I typically sit out the first month and allow it to warm up a bit.

        Reply
        • roxnsox

          March 3, 2017

          Yeah, I just can’t bring myself to break tradition. The joy and energy in and around the park are really something. And the weather has been fine probably 20 out of 24! We left early only twice that I recall, once from Mile High with snow flurries and wind 🙂

          Reply
    • sdcarp

      March 2, 2017

      RMH – we expect good training reports from you Sir. Have fun in AZ.

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      March 2, 2017

      Opening Day: trying something new this year. Club Level, down the line (cheaper/available). Went last year in the upper reserved RF area – near the party deck – and wound up inadvertently photo bombing about a dozen 20-somethings trying to take selfies at the party deck. I felt … old. And crushed. So maybe the controlled entry to Club Level is something I’ve aged into. And I’m perfectly fine with that. A couple drinks, maybe that big ass stuffed baked potato, a bunch of seniors around to make me feel relatively young. Sounds good.

      Reply
      • roxnsox

        March 3, 2017

        Ag, I really like the Club Level seats. Sometimes sit up there in the summer – great view, no mobs for the food or restroom. And I’d NEVER go near the Party Deck – LOL. I do love the third-base line best. I’ll wave at you up there somewhere!

        Reply
    • sdcarp

      March 3, 2017

      RMH – first Phoenix homework assignment. Get out to the practice fields and see if Desmond is shagging any fly balls in the OF. If Dahl’s back injury is serious enough to push into the regular season, we could see some LF Desmond and 1B Reynolds action.

      Reply
      • rockymountainhigh

        March 3, 2017

        If you ask me, I think the door swung wide open for Chris Denorfia if not Tapia. I like Reynolds of bench better

        Reply
      • roxnsox

        March 3, 2017

        Oh no…. what happened to Dahl? Ugh.

        Reply

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