Rockies Prepare for 2018 Run

Rockies Prepare for 2018 Run

It was the coolest stove season in MLB history.  Jeff Bridich knew what he wanted to do and completed his most important tasks of the off season.  It was warmer than usual stove season by the Rockies’ standard.  They almost immediately snatched Chris Ianetta to keep the money available for the bullpen.  Bridich went above and beyond the fans’ expectations by signing not one, not two, but THREE back end of the bullpen arms.  Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee each signed a three-year contract so the back end of the bullpen would be set while the window is open for the potentially perennial run at the post season.

David Dahl has returned from his injury and began swinging without limits.  He should be fully ready when spring training starts.  Raimel Tapia, Mike Tauchman, and Jordan Patterson will join Dahl in competing for the fourth and potentially fifth outfielder slots.  Gerardo Parra, Chuck_Nazty, and Ian Desmond are the presumed starters in the outfield.  Desmond and Patterson could potentially shorten an infield roster by having the ability to play 1B as well.

The infielders and utility players are pretty much set with the exception of first base.  The lack of pursuit for a first baseman in free agency tells me that Ryan McMahon’s job is his to lose at first base.  DJLM, Trevor Story, and Nolan Arenado are set as starters.  Pat Valaika is expected to be the utility man.  He could be the only one if Desmond and/or Patterson is on the roster and could play first base.  Who knows if the Rockies could go with five outfielders and five infielders this year?  I think the bench will be stronger with five outfielders without watching in horror Alexis Amarista coming up to pinch hit.  I’d prefer Tauchman/Tapia/Dahl/Patterson as pinch hitters.  The catchers will be Ianetta and either Tony Wolters or Tom Murphy.

The rotation will be the big wild card in 2018.  If they can all avoid the sophomore slumps and stay strong through the dog days of the season, it should be a formidable group.  Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson when healthy are locks in my opinion.  The next three starters will very competitive.  Chad Bettis, German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela, Jeff Hoffman, and Kyle Freeland will battle to fill out the rotation.  Yency Almonte and Sam Howard are on the 40-man roster and will be the emergency starters if needed.

The bullpen for the first time in franchise history is pretty much set.  Spring training performances could cause a change here or there.  Davis, McGee, and Shaw will be at the back end.  The high leverage pitchers will be Scott Oberg, Mike Dunn and Adam Ottavino.  The long relief guy will obviously be Chris Rusin.  That’s seven spots already.  The eighth spot is open for competition with Carlos Estevez having the most experience and Jairo Diaz having the most potential.  Or it could go to a guy that missed out on the rotation such as Senzatela.

I turned in a Purp30 ballot and Purple Row is revealing the players one by one.  The list below is the consensus choice by the PR community with my ballot in parenthesis.  The first five has yet to be revealed but the first five are my presumptions.

  1. Brendan Rodgers (1)
  2. Ryan McMahon (3)
  3. Riley Pint (2)
  4. Colton Welker (5)
  5. Peter Lambert (9)
  6. Ryan Castellani (4)
  7. Ryan Vilade (6)
  8. Yency Almonte (8)
  9. Garrett Hampson (12)
  10. Sam Howard (11)
  11. Tom Murphy (7)
  12. Tyler Neven (14)
  13. Brian Mundell (20)
  14. Jordan Patterson (NR)
  15. Dan Montano (10)
  16. Forrest Wall (13)
  17. Sam Hilliard (16)
  18. Breiling Eusebio (19)
  19. Yonathan Daza (21)
  20. Ben Bowden (18)
  21. Dom Nunez (29)
  22. Mike Tauchman (15)
  23. Will Gaddis (17)
  24. Robert Tyler (HM)
  25. Mike Nikorak (24)
  26. Willie Abreu (HM)
  27. Jairo Diaz (25)
  28. Vince Fernandez (NR)
  29. Chad Spanberger (28)
  30. Tommy Doyle (23)

I had  Jesus Tinoco (27), James Farris (26), Jack Wynkoop (30), and Noel Cuevas (22) on my Purp30 ballot.  I left Patterson completely off my ballot cuz I consider him another Ben Paulsen.  All in all, a lot of pitchers made big moves into the top ten such as Lambert, Castellani, Howard, and Almonte.  That bodes well for the future of pitching at Coors Field.

It is now three weeks before the pitchers and catchers report to spring training.  There are still over 100 free agents that are still looking for a team including CarGo and Mark Reynolds.  Reading about baseball in general, the GMs are trending towards shorter term contracts.  They are tired of being tied down to any contracts longer than four years as most players begin their decline in the final few years of the contract.  Two other factors can explain the slow off season.  One, most teams are trying to stay under the luxury tax line to save money.  Two, next year will be a huge year for free agents with Bryce Harper as the headliner and teams are saving their money for 2019 winter.

With my assumptions that the rotation will do their part, bullpen holding up their end of the bargain, and an improved offense (less Ks from Story, Desmond bounce back year, and production from catchers) I project a 90-win team.  The reality is that the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Giants will provide stiff competition for the West pennant.  All the while Cardinals, Brewers, and three West non-winners will muddy up the playoff picture.  Actually, the Cubs may not finish first in the Central as their rotation and bullpen are questionable (unless Chatty gives them a career year which he is fully capable of).

Coldest Stove Season Except for Rockies Bullpen

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.

35 Comments

    • sdcarp

      January 29, 2018

      As a general rule, you shouldn’t drive at night in your purple tinted glasses. But RMH, yours are so tinted at the moemnt, I’m thinking the State of Colorado should slap some daylight driving restrictions on you as well.

      Here’s where I am at the moment (and very important note………the Hot Stove season is NOT over, it’s just extremely delayed this season):

      1. Bullpen is incrementally better.
      2. SP is actually our strength. “Nice” quality (there are no true aces – but solid guys), good mix of LHed and RHed, very good depth, different types of pitchers, almost all figure to be trending upward.
      3. Offense – in the end, no change (yet) from last season. Yes, Dahl may be back. Yes, Tapia may contribute (although I’m skeptical). I do think we’ll see a Desmond rebound. I think Story will equalize somewhere between his 16 and 17 seasons. That’s four (4) solid positives. But we had essentially no injury time for studs Arenado and Blackmon last season. Bridich caught lightning in bottle with Reynolds – that won’t happen again (with Reynolds). Ianetta does nothing to advance our bleak Catcher situation. So, there are an equal number of negatives. WE NEED A BAT.

      Without the addition of a significant bat – I’m doubling down on my 2017 prediction, 81-81.

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        January 29, 2018

        How can you wrong with a name like that?

        Reply
        • Bob K.

          January 29, 2018

          His ERA in the past was just under 10.

          Reply
          • sdcarp

            January 30, 2018

            That was a last name (Pounder(d)) joke. A bad one.

            Reply
            • Bob K.

              January 30, 2018

              Yes, he has been “pounded” in the past rather than “pounding” the strike zone.
              LOL

    • rockymountainhigh

      January 29, 2018

      I’m defying the state laws limiting my driving. Ryan McMahon is the BAT we need! And I’m calling 20 HRs between Murphy and Ianetta.

      Bullpen more than just a incremental improvement. My how you’ve forgotten that we had Jason Motte and Dan Qualls messing up the pen for two months! Plus Otto and Estevez were in high leverage situations. Now they are moved back to low leverage with the emergence of Oberg.

      David Dahl is the real deal. I’m doubling my bet against sdcarp on 90 wins.

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        January 29, 2018

        I love it! (and…………want you to be correct).

        Reply
    • Bob K.

      January 29, 2018

      Spring training invitees:
      Brendan Rodgers – SS/2B/3B
      Garrett Hampson – 2B
      Peter Lambert – RHP
      Ryan Castellani – RHP
      Shane Broyles – RHP
      Brian Mundell – 1B
      Dom Nunez – C
      Sam Hilliard – CF
      Harrison Musgrave – LHP
      Daniel Castro – IF
      Shawn O’Malley – IF
      Brooks Pounder – RHP
      James Farris – RHP
      Austin House – RHP
      Jerry Vasto – LHP
      Anthony Bemboom – C
      Jan Vazquez – C

      https://www.mlb.com/news/brendan-rodgers-among-rockies-spring-invites/c-265514500

      Reply
    • sdcarp

      January 29, 2018

      Lookie, lookie……..Rox talking to Todd Frazier. This could move my prediction dial to 84-77 RMH.

      Reply
      • rockymountainhigh

        January 29, 2018

        Nope, McMahon is better and cheaper. Frazier in the twilight of his career and played very little 1B. Pass.

        Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 10, 2018

      Yu Darvish to Cubs.

      I suppose this could help the Rox in theory. It may knock the Cards and Brewers down a game or two.

      That weird Brewer’s Jimmy Nelson injury last season may weigh big on the 2018 WC race. As you’ll recall (or maybe not), Nelson is a really, really nice, emerging young SP for the Brew Crew and then injured his shoulder RUNNING THE BASES! (a slide). He had to have labrum surgery. An optimistic projection for his return is June. The Brew Crew needs some SPing help. They were in on Darvish. We’ll see what happens to them.

      I don’t know about you guys (and girls), but I’m hoping JD Martinez doesn’t end up back in Phoenix.

      Reply
    • Bob K.

      February 10, 2018

      I think the Rockies need to trade for J.T. Realmuto. Currently the Astros and Marlins are discussing a trade. The Astros don’t need to get any better. The Rockies do need to improve their catchers.

      Reply
    • Bob K.

      February 11, 2018

      Former Rockies catcher McKenry retires. From MLBTradeRumors:

      “Former major league catcher Michael McKenry retired from baseball earlier this month, Erik Bacharach of the Daily News Journal relays. The 32-year-old McKenry told Bacharach he “had a lot of opportunities to play,” but he’ll instead work as Middle Tennessee State University’s director of player development and, according to Adam Berry of MLB.com, serve as a Pirates broadcaster. McKenry played with the Pirates from 2011-13 and was particularly effective in ’12, when he hit .233/.320/.442 with 1.7 fWAR in 275 plate appearances. He also saw major league action with the Rockies, who selected him in Round 7 of the 2006 draft, and Cardinals. McKenry concluded his playing career last season as a member of Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate, with which he racked up 272 PAs and batted .209/.338/.324.”

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 12, 2018

      Projections, projections — rosters have settled (but with an unusually large number of high profile free agents still out there), an here’s where we stand:
      The low end: Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA: 78 wins
      The middle. Fangraphs now has us at 82 wins
      The high: Clay Davenport (one of the founders of BP) has us at 90 wins, with the Dodgers just a couple games better.
      Another interesting one: a couple old Rockies fans (and really smart guys) who started their own NEIFI stats/consulting service had us at 78.3 wins AFTER the Wade Davis signing. “Best bullpen in the NL” notwithstanding.
      I can’t recall such a divergence of opinion among the various intelligent projection systems. That’s probably a consequence of having so many young pitchers (how many innings do you expect Tyler Anderson to give the Rox? Senzatela? And how to project their performances on such limited MLB samples?) not to mention guys who may be key position players (Dahl/McMahon).
      I know we’ll get our own predictions going soon. And for me, it’s way too early to commit to any number of wins. First I want to see if Dahl can play, and if the young starter arms (or at least 5 of them) look healthy and sharp. We get to cheat like that, unlike the projection systems that are already out there. Right now, if you forced me to take a guess, I’d go with that 82-80 mark, but with an unusually high degree of variance. Would 90 wins shock me? Not at all. Would 74 wins stun me? Not really …

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 13, 2018

        I subscribed to Baseball Prospectus for a few years (years ago). The biggest reason I ultimately ended my subscription was their PECOTA projection system (and their reliance upon it). I thought it was the least accurate major projection system at the time. I felt like it really fell short (accurately) projecting ABs (or IP). Granted…..this opinion is based on dated data. But to this day, I brush off PECOTA based projections.

        Reply
        • roxnsox

          February 13, 2018

          Carp, I’m glad you said this about PECOTA. I saw their standings on MLB Network recently and gagged. 78 wins? 4th place? Ugh 🙂 And Ag, thanks for the further info from other sources. Projecting anything really is a wild card (hehe) at this point.

          I think SO much rests on David Dahl. Fingers and toes crossed for a season like we think and hope he can have.

          Reply
          • sdcarp

            February 14, 2018

            All projection systems struggle with playing time to some extent. But PECOTA really, really struggled with it. I can’t remember a specific example (because it has been a number of years), but perhaps a current example would be projecting David Dahl for 10 HRs, 40 RBIs, 40 R’s with 250 ABs. Yet we know with a solid degree of confidence that if Dahl is healthy, he’ll get 500+ ABs, with 20ish HRs, maybe 75 RBI, maybe 80 R’s.

            I haven’t seen this year’s PECOTA output, but I imagine it struggles with Dahl, Tyler Anderson, German Marquez, Ryan McMahan. Any young player……PECOTA just seems to underestimate playing time. Combine young with injuries….then it’s really bad.

            Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      February 14, 2018

      David Dahl will help if he plays well, but the big difference will be in Ryan McMahon. If he performs like Cody Bellinger awesome. If he performs like crap were in the 70s win projection. Because of McMahon, I have my really nice purple shades on. 88!

      Reply
      • roxnsox

        February 14, 2018

        Yeah! Forgot about Ryan – definitely need him to play and to shine. Does he hit home runs?

        Reply
    • Bob K.

      February 15, 2018

      Tyler Matzek signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. It includes an invite to spring training.

      “Lefty Tyler Matzek has signed a minors deal with the Mariners, per an announcement from the California Winter League. It includes an invitation to MLB Spring Training. Once a top prospect, Matzek had been unable to overcome anxiety problems and a related collapse in his control. Though he worked to a 4.05 ERA in 117 2/3 MLB frames in 2014, Matzek issued more walks than strikeouts at all levels over the following two seasons. He was released by the White Sox after participating in camp with the organization last spring.”

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 16, 2018

      I’m not about to pay for a BP subscription even if PECOTA made sense, but I’m really not gonna pay for garbage like projecting Arenado at 3.5 WAR this year. There’s no sensible methodology that would reach that result. He’ll be 27 (and given recent player aging curves, perhaps it’s fair to say he already peaked), coming off (by PECOTA) 3 consecutive 6.5+ WAR seasons. So they’d have to somehow be predicting that he’ll miss 70 games or something. Why? Who knows. Like I said, it doesn’t make sense.
      I do see that Clay Davenport (he took BP’s skills with him when he left) has fixed his projections. Rox are no longer a 90 win team, but they’re at 86. In his system, Arenado projects as a 6 win player. Makes perfect sense. Really, you don’t need a fancy formula for this one. Surprises? Story projects at 3.8 wins. Clay’s system must love his defense. It also loves DJ. In fact, he projects probably the best 3B-SS-2B combo in MLB. Dahl: 0.5 in PECOTA, 1.1 in Davenport. Dahl (by PECOTA) generated 1.3 WAR in 2016 playing roughly half time. It makes sense to project him as a half season player; it’s the midpoint of “maybe he’s perfectly healthy” and “maybe he really can’t play anymore.” Clay also has McMahon as an 500 PA guy, generating 2.1 WAR. Sounds, again, like a reasonable midpoint projection. He seems a bit too optimistic about what a 70-ish IP reliever gives you, projecting Wade Davis at 2.6 WAR and Shaw at 1.9. But he’s also pretty conservative on the Gray-Marquez-other young starter projections. All in all, I’m starting to convince myself that the 86 win projection is pretty sensible. If we weren’t in the NL West it’d look even better … 18 games each against the Dodgers, Dbacks, and (probably) resurgent Giants ain’t easy. There’s only the Padres to beat up on (and some years that doesn’t go so well for us)

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 16, 2018

        FWIW – I’m buying Story and Desmond bounce back seasons.

        Reply
    • Doc

      February 18, 2018

      On Tampa’s release of Cory Dickerson, Evan Longoria went on a rant–sounds like he’s pimping him for the Giants squad.

      “It’s really hard to come into a clubhouse and expect to win when you give away your best players,” Longoria said. “Corey was our best player last year. He was better than me. Logan Morrison hit 38 home runs, but overall, Corey was our best player.

      Reply
        • Bob K.

          February 18, 2018

          The games I saw Dickerson playing left field for Tampa last year showed a huge improvement over how he did when playing for the Rockies.

          Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 19, 2018

      Happy (former) El Presidente Day!

      Finally, some Hot Stove action, huh????

      Corey Dickerson…..I did some research to see just how bad he is in the OF and lo and behold, he was actually the #2 AL LFer in “range factor” in 2017, behind only super athlete Justin Upton. His arm strength has never been good, so he’s not a RF candidate, but the “awful defensive” tag is not deserved. One other note on Dickerson…..yesterday I saw one of those fun anonymous player “A” vs. player “B” stat comparisons from 2017. Of course A and B had very similar stats. “A” was the $140M man Hosmer, “B” was DFA’d Dickerson.

      Eric Hosmer and the Padres. Once again, the Padres do something weird. I don’t see how this moves the dial much for them…..but it does make the NL West once again just a bit more difficult. Here’s my thing if I’m Bridich…..I pick up the phone and call Preller. I (sarcastically) congratulate him for tying up all that money, and casually ask about Hunter Renfroe. Sure, it’s a long shot, but what the hell.

      Seems as though Ian Desmond is prepared to play 1st, but anticipates mostly LF (based on some sort of Patrick Saunders exchange). That’s the best use for Desmond.

      I absolutely, positively love the talk of Chuck Nazty moving to 3rd in the batting order.

      It really seems like the door is open for Dahl and Ryan McMahon.

      Spring Training -I’m still trying to sync a short Phoenix escape with my work schedule (actually thought about going this weekend just to watch practices…..but didn’t work out). I want to check in on Dahl and McMahon. I want to kick around the backfields of the A’s and Reds (both have underrated Farms). I want to see the CWS play (Moncado and company).

      Reply

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