Rox Caravan Ends at Coors Field

Rox Caravan Ends at Coors Field

I went to the Q & A session hosted by the Rockies at Coors Field.  I came away with higher expectations of the team and impressive answers to some excellent questions.  I will paraphrase the various things said at the session and then follow that with my interpretations and impressions.  The 90-minutes sessions were divided into three 25-minute groups where the participants rotated among the three conference rooms.

Story is completely recovered and 100% healthy & working out as normal without restrictions.

Black spent considerable time talking about pitching as the audience peppered Bud with questions mostly “ignoring” Story.  That was to be expected somewhat.  Clearly the FO is no longer meddling in the on-field management.  Bud says there is an understanding between Jeff Bridich (JB from now on in his article and BB for Black) that there is a red line between them, but they will continue to communicate on team transactions.  Gone are the days of Bill Gievett telling the manager to use the piggyback system for pitching.  In short, JB and BB will talk about what tools they need to make the team better while letting each other do their own jobs.

BB hinted that he will give most players the green light to steal on their own trusting their intelligence and awareness of context during the game.  If that is the case, the team will probably have more stolen bases this year.  I am comfortable with the idea of stealing on your own so the other team can’t steal signs or figure out the likelihood of running.  Story and Black were ribbing each other about stealing and if caught would be pointing the fingers at each other.  That told me that the players are clearly comfortable with BB and not worrying about being thrown under the bus.

BB stated that since Gray, Bettis, Anderson, and Chatwood had the most innings and experience last year they are likely to be four of the five rotation starters.  He mentioned that Hoffman, Marquez, and Freeland are the candidates for the fifth spot and they all are likely to contribute this year as the rotation is not expected to be the same five the whole year.

BB not going to mingle in the mechanics of pitchers.  He will manage the mental part of the game and let Steve Foster/Darren Holmes be responsible for pitching mechanics and hitting coach be responsible for the swing mechanics.

BB and Dick Montfort drove in the car 1 1/2 hour each way to Greeley (to attend some function) and chatted baseball.  BB was clearly comfortable with Dick and feels that he will not be meddling at all.  Dick seemed to be comfortable with JB and BB and no longer feels a need to meddle according to BB.

BB says Wolters and Murphy will be the catching tandem and he does not expect one of them to catch 140 games like Yadier Molina or Matt Wieters.  It will depend on match ups and hot hands.  There will be no “personal catcher” for certain pitchers.

BB had a long rousing applause when he was introduced.  He started off saying he was clearly happy to be here in Colorado and was grateful for fan support from Albuquerque to Utah to Grand Junction and anywhere the Rockies Caravan stopped.  He talked about his resume and how it helped him prepare for today’s game in Colorado.  He’s seen both the traditional style and the sabermetrics style and he knows sabermetrics is part of baseball game today.

Gray was asked about the catchers – Wolters is so smart and very creative and Gray knew Murphy from the days in the minors.  Gray says Murphy is the hardest working man in the workout room and a very detailed oriented person. Both catchers are great in the clubhouse.

Ottavino feels very normal and working out preparing for the new season.  The last 2-3 weeks of 2016 felt like 100% so he prepared during the winter like he had no injury to overcome.  He has talked with Greg Holland about what he has gone through during the  TJ recovery.

I personally directed a question to Steve Foster and asked him how he will balance analytics with gut feelings.  I cited an example of a LH-batter has very good even splits against RH and LH pitchers but a lefty specialist gets brought in and it was a waste of time in my opinion.  Foster answered that analytics will definitely be a part of matchup decisions.  Good!

Foster emphasized as always that he wants pitchers who has tough mental make up who don’t care where they are pitching.  But he also understands that fastballs in the mid to high 90s will play anywhere including altitude.

Sam Moll, Miguel Castro, and Matt Carisiti will likely be needed at one time or another in 2017.

Yency Almonte and Ryan Castellani were prominently mentioned as the next SPs to hit Coors even as early as 2017 if they are needed.  Zach Wilson says even MLBN has not heard of them yet, but soon they will.  Woo hoo!

JB came into my conference room in the last group of three.  Great and tough questions were directed at JB and I expected him to kind of dance around the tough questions, but no he was honest and forthright.  The big question was about how the FO has meddled with the organization quite a bit (paraphrased by me).  JB – in 2014 when he took over he wanted to change the  direction of the organization and asked Montfort to give him more money and flexibility.  (my interpretation – apparently Dick was convinced by JB’s plan of attack for the future and gradually gave him complete control).  JB says Montfort is totally hands off (or nearly to that effect).

Another question fired at JB that all purple seamheads wanted to ask – what are you doing to change the perception that pitchers don’t want to come to Coors?  Greg Holland took the microphone away from JB and said I’ll answer that question.  JB was beaming and proud of his latest acquisition (Holland).  Holland basically said it comes down to the product on the field.  And the Rockies were putting shoddy products year after year on the field especially on the pitching side.  Holland says he chose to come to Colorado (other than the relationships he already had with Foster & Holmes) because he believes Colorado now has a quality winning product especially on the pitching side.  Bigger grin from JB.

Holland talked about himself a little bit; the main theme was he is here to win today.  He has no interest in building up stats that would help him look good.  All he wants to do is win.  He’s not thinking into the future.  One game at a time and his only mission is to win now.  Losing is not in his vocabulary.  Dunn is the same way except he’s not as vocal as Holland.

JB and Zach Wilson talked about the first baseman position.  They prefaced their comments saying that Todd Helton’s shoes were quite big to fill.  The first thing they look at is the glove noting  how Helton makes the defense better especially at Coors behind the pitchers.  In my opinion, that explains why they chose Ian Desmond over the other available first basemen on the market thinking his glove will play a lot better than the marquee first basemen on the market.  They mentioned that Ryan McMahon and Brian Mundell are being looked at and developed to possibly play the position in the future.

Foster (if I remember correctly) says he is aiming high.  He says if the Rockies pitch well as expected, we can go to the World Series.  Yah, I like this attitude.  Gone are the days of “losing is the norm attitude.”  Foster and Holland have similar convictions – aim high.  That explains why Foster & Holmes were JB hires and retained when the rest of the coaching staff (except Stu Cole) were let go.  Indirectly, JB is aiming high as well.  Now Montfort can sit back, relax, and enjoy the Coors Field atmosphere.

I have read comments here and on Purple Row and elsewhere that the off-season job done by the Rockies was not all that great.  After attending the Q&A yesterday, I think the pundits are delivering low blows.  I’m aiming for 90-wins.  We have a really good depth in both the rotation and bullpen.  SPs – Gray, Bettis, Chatwood, Anderson, Hoffman, Marquez, Freeland, Almonte, Castellani, Senzatela. BP – Ottavino, Holland, Dunn, Diaz, Castro, Moll, Rusin, Lyles, McGee, Motte, Qualls, Estevez, Gopherg, and Rayon Gonzalez.  At my count for the BP, that’s 14 and 10 for the SPs.  Do I see any scrap pickups? NO! (except Qualls).

Then there’s our lineup – I project that CarGo will be the only one regressing as his long swing slows down a little bit (plus his inability to hit away from the shift; I read the 2017 Bill James Handbook and CarGo is hurt tremendously by the shifts as in top five.  Some guys say Chuck_Nazty and DJLM will likely regress; but I say if they do regress it will be small and the difference will be more than made up with the addition of David Dahl and Ian Desmond to the lineup.  Not to even mention Tom Murphy despite the high K rate (still way better than Hundley).  I think the only work we have left is to strengthen the bench.  I advocate Mark Reynolds (still available and he’s better than Raburn) or Jordan Patterson.  I don’t need the PAT theory to cross the 90-win barrier.  I need PAT only for the bench to take us from 90 to 95. (breakout season from Cardullo?  LOL)

Rox organization raising the bar high (as in WS)

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.

40 Comments

    • sdcarp

      January 29, 2017

      Great stuff RMH – thanks.

      I wrote a comment in the Hot Stove thread the other day regarding Holland and his Rockies connections. Virtually every national writer I’ve read think Holland will bolt for greener pastures after this season. Mark it down…..if he returns to health, pitches well in the 2nd half, and the Rockies are competitive, he’ll stay in Denver.

      Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      January 29, 2017

      I agree he’ll be more likely to stay rather than bolt, but it’ll probably be expensive. If I understand his contract, he’ll have the player option for 2018 for $15M if he vests this year. $15M for a relief pitcher is expensive, but he will have the option to see how the Rockies are doing in 2017 and 2018. A great deal for both sides. If by any chance he sticks around for 2019 and beyond, we’re talking about Scott Borass.

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        January 30, 2017

        One more interesting thing about Holland and his contract that I’ve only seen mentioned once:

        If he pitches well, but the Rockies suck, it’s a very tradable contract in July.

        Reply
    • roxnsox

      January 31, 2017

      Thanks, RMH! Interesting. Clearly they’ve sold you, and that’s an OK barometer for me. I will forever have the “caution” flag up in my mind, having had high hopes and hard falls many times before, but … wheeeeee … the high hopes do seem somewhat justified this year, and here we go.

      Reply
    • Doc

      February 1, 2017

      Excellent job, RMH. Thanks. Sounds like the ship’s been righted at long last. I put on my purple glasses last fall when I read how the Rockies players had bonded as a team. Talk about clubhouse chemistry all you want, but I believe that’s a tremendous difference maker. Best thing to happen to this club was replacing WW with BB.

      Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      February 1, 2017

      Eddie Butler traded to Chicago Cubs:

      The Colorado Rockies have traded former top prospect Eddie Butler to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for relief pitcher, James Ferris, the club announced today.

      Rockies also get $255k slot money for international signing.

      Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 1, 2017

      I posted this on PR when EButt was DFA’d. In my mind, it came down to Rusin/Lyles/Butler for the DFA. IMO – Butler was the one chosen to be DFA’d because he still has the Prospect pedigree from the not-so-distant past. So I saw him as the tradable commodity of the three. This is the Kahnle situation version 2.0, and even somewhat similar to the Marquez inclusion in the Dickerson trade. Bridich is at his best picking low minors, off-the-radar guys. So we get a AA level relief pitcher that didn’t give up a HR in his first 126 IP as a professional. We also get some international slot money.

      I wish Butler well. But he wasn’t going anywhere with us – so I like this deal.

      Reply
      • Bob K.

        February 1, 2017

        It is really nice to see the Rockies get something in return for DFAed players. When O’Dowd was in charge it seemed like they were always releasing them or losing them on waiver claims without getting anything in return.

        Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 1, 2017

      Rox sign Mark Reynolds to a MINOR LEAGUE deal. Ag has opined that this was the way to go. I’m stunned Amat the 1B market has cratered this Hot Stove season. There must be something seriously wrong with Chris Carter.

      For the record – I’m a fan of all minor league deals.

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 1, 2017

        Oops – meant to say “at how the 1B market has cratered.”

        Damn IPhone!

        Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      February 1, 2017

      Write this down – Mark Reynolds will break camp with the Rockies. Good defense and great RH bat of the bench. Rockies can use entire ST to see who the odd man out is from the infield. Adames?

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 1, 2017

        He’ll start 3 days a week at 1st. That allows Desmond to roam about the diamond and truly maximize his value.

        I think this deal has been in Bridich’s back pocket all along. It was dependent on signing Holland. Had we missed on Holland, we may have gone after a bigger name at 1st. Napoli? Carter? But Holland + Reynolds is way better than Joe Blanton + Carter.

        Remember the article that gave the Rox a Hot Stove D+ grade? I agreed, but upped it to C+ after Holland and said it could go to B+ if we could get Desmond off 1st three days a week. Mission accomplished.

        Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 1, 2017

      RMH, great write-up here! There was a hint of spring in the air over the weekend, and it brought out the big time optimism. And guess what? I’m not going to be that guy – the guy who has to rain on the Rox Caravan parade. Let’s just leave it at this: we agree that the Rockies can be competitive this year.
      Mark Reynolds: nice to see that. And they kind of have to keep him. I’ve been having nightmares – the booming voice of old PA announcer Alan Roach announcing, “Pinch hitting for the Rockies, Alexi Amarista.” And some LOOGY specialist is warming up in the opponent’s pen. Maybe I’ll be able to get some sleep now.
      Chris Carter: Carp, I’ll tell you what’s seriously wrong with him: he sucks. Oh, I still wanted him here, but he does suck. He’s supposed to be Japan bound. Hide your ramen, Japan! This is a sign of how complete the saber takeover of MLB front offices is. Even a few years ago there were some old school GMs who would’ve said, “How can I pass up 35 HRs?” Now they all say, at the same time, “who wants a 110 RC+ first baseman who plays lousy defense?” Nobody cares about counting stats anymore. Or maybe they still do in Japan?

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 2, 2017

        Ag…..I see this deal (Reynolds) bumping Desmond by 1 WAR minimum. Perhaps a bit more – even though it’s all schematics. IMO – some of that “bump” should be assigned to the bench, even though technically it’s not bench. I guess what I’m saying is the traditional SP+RP+Everyday Lineup+Bench sum of the parts analysis for the 2017 Rockies will be tricky (in a good way) because of Desmond.

        Reply
    • Bill

      February 2, 2017

      A little off-topic but it was reported today that Caleb Joseph, back up catcher for the Orioles, “lost” in arbitration. Joseph batted in the 170s with 0 (that’s right zero, none, zilch) RBIs and still got more than a 33% raise from $523,500 to $700,000. He did not lose he just won less than the desired million dollars a year. I know professional sports is not the real world and I don’t usually care about the salaries but can’t he get at least 1 RBI?

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 2, 2017

        A little less off topic, our boy Boone Logan signed today with the Indians for 5.5M 2017 dollars. That’s a bit less than I would have guessed.

        Reply
    • rockymountainhigh

      February 2, 2017

      Ag, I’m laughing at your comment about Amarista being announced as a PH. If BB is smart, he’ll send….drum roll…Chris Rusin!

      Reply
    • Bob K.

      February 2, 2017

      Non-roster invitees

      Left-handed pitchers: Kyle Freeland, Sam Howard, Harrison Musgrave, Jerry Vasto

      Right-handed pitchers: Matt Carasiti, Ryan Castellani, James Farris, Johendi Jiminian, C.C. Lee

      Catchers: Anthony Bemboom, Dom Nunez, Chris Rabago, Jan Vazquez

      Outfielders: Noel Cuevas, Chris Denorfia, Rosell Herrera, Michael Tauchman

      Infielders: Stephen Cardullo, Daniel Castro, Ryan McMahon, Mark Reynolds, Rafael Ynoa

      http://roxpile.com/2017/02/02/colorado-rockies-announce-non-roster-players-for-spring-training/

      Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 3, 2017

      Call me crazy………………..I’d claim Byung Ho Park.

      Reply
      • Bob K.

        February 3, 2017

        Overall, Park posted a disappointing .191/.275/.409 batting line with the Twins. He is guaranteed $9.75MM over the next three years which isn’t bad if he could actually hit. He did hit .257/.339/.578 before he hurt his wrist. He is expected to clear waivers.

        Reply
        • sdcarp

          February 3, 2017

          Bob – we should send them Chad Qualls. That means were only picking up about 5M, and they’re saving about 5M.

          Reply
          • Bob K.

            February 3, 2017

            If it was up to me, I would give them both Qualls and Motte.

            Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 3, 2017

      I told you – I’m crazy!

      9-10M for 3 years of a guy with his upside is a cheap risk in baseball economics.

      Reply
    • Agbayani

      February 4, 2017

      Boone Logan: he’s somewhat better than Dunn, and he comes with a shorter commitment and lower average annual salary. Oops. There’s been a higher injury risk, but still, I’d have re-signed him for a year instead of Dunn.

      Park: Carp, I’m with you on that one, assuming that the posting fee/signing bonus thing is already fully paid (not pro-rated over the years of his contract). Despite being huge, the defensive reports on him are pretty solid. He really wasn’t as bad as his BA suggests. I’d love to see that kind of power at Coors.

      My #5 starter (assuming everyone stays healthy) sleeper is still Freeland. I think Marquez could benefit from a little more minor league time, and to be honest I wasn’t really impressed by Hoffman, either stats-wise or eyeball test-wise. By all reports Freeland is a lesser pure talent, but he’s (1) reportedly quite polished for his age; (2) left handed; (3) less likely to benefit than the other two from another stint in the minors.

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 4, 2017

        Can I add a #4 to Freeland? 4. He’s compared to Tyler Anderson. Not a bad comparison.

        Think about this Ag (and others) – we’re debating Hoffman vs Marquez vs Freeland as # 5 starter. A couple of years ago, we were debating Kendricks vs Hale vs Nicasio. 2017 is a much more appetizing debate.

        Reply
    • Bob K.

      February 6, 2017

      MLB 2017 Fantasy player Review

      5. Nolan Arenado
      13. Charlie Blackmon
      39. Trevor Story
      47. Ian Desmond
      65. Carlos Gonzalez
      78. DJ Lemahieu
      112. David Dahl
      135. Jon Gray
      225. Tyler Anderson
      339. Greg Holland
      346. Chad Bettis
      378. Adam Ottavino
      396. Tom Murphy
      413. Tony Wolters
      446. Tyler Chatwood
      469. Gerardo Parra
      530. Chris Rusin
      533. German Marquez
      587. Carlos Estevez
      589. Jake McGee
      648. Mike Dunn
      725. Jeff Hoffman
      736. Alexi Amarista
      752. Mark Reynolds
      797. Cristhian Adames

      http://m.mlb.com/fantasy/preview/y2017

      Reply
      • sdcarp

        February 6, 2017

        As a long, long, long time Owner in very old, established auction league……….I’ve found the fantasy publications are much more relevant than most people want to believe, for a different reason than most people want to believe.

        I’d like to have a dollar for every time someone has told me “real baseball isn’t fantasy.” Well DUH. But the fantasy publications are all about setting their subscribers up to win, so they tend to not be biased. In fact, they do a great job of researching and properly including the non-marque teams and players. The Owner that won our league last year did it by thriving off Brewers, Twins, and Reds. He purposely stayed away from the marque Clubs and the increased auction $$$$ associated with these players. Fantasy magazines (now websites and apps) get this.

        Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 7, 2017

      It appears as though the RWO site has been hacked by the Putin and the Russians. How cool is that???

      Reply
      • Bob K.

        February 8, 2017

        It’s a shame that it doesn’t appear that anyone is doing any maintenance on the site.

        Reply
        • jaredean

          February 9, 2017

          sorry guys, my life has taken a massive upgrade in time needed to maintain just my very existence so, sadly, other things have had to suffer a bit – like the site…i dumped a ton of time/$ into the “update” of the site and had a horrible experience with that because i went against my better judgement and outsourced it (twice) and got burned (twice) instead of doing it myself – i just didn’t have the time…Third time i was able to find a great dev guy to work with and we threw this site up and it isn’t perfect, but it is what it is…

          i’m VERY excited for the new season, but i’m not going to lie – if it wasn’t for RMH this site would be a massive ghost town. I love you guys and love the site, but i honestly haven’t had time to really work on it or post to it in so long i feel supreme amounts of guilt!!! I don’t mind keeping it up and going and doing the IT part of it, but i can never go back to the pre/post/article cycle from the early days – it would quite literally kill me 🙂

          Reply
          • julieG

            February 11, 2017

            Glad you could put the time and effort you have into the site. I really appreciate it!

            Reply
    • Doc

      February 9, 2017

      Appreciate all you’ve done Jared; no apologies necessary. Without you this site would not have existed, much less survived. I’m sure this year’s team will spawn a lot of interest and with it, additional donations to RWO which will allow you to afford additional help. Take care of yourself, man.

      Reply
      • Bob K.

        February 12, 2017

        That’s great!!

        Thanks for cleaning up the site and everything you do to make this a great site.

        Reply
    • sdcarp

      February 13, 2017

      WOW…..looks much better. Thanks Jaredean (or whomever).

      Reply

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