2018-2019 Off Season

Colorado Rockies improved to 91 wins in 2018 against 87 wins in 2017.  This year was perceived as a disappointment even though the paper says they won 91 games and lost the NL West tie breaker in game 163.  Let’s dig in a little deeper as to why 91 wins were not enough in the minds of the seam heads and RWOers.

The pitching staff has come through with flying colors keeping the games close to give the Rockies a chance to win.  It took some adjusting in the first half to finally figure out the roles in the bullpen.  Scott Oberg and D.J. Johnson showed up while Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw, Mike Dunn, and Carlos Estevez disappeared.  Chris Rusin of August/September will hopefully continue through the entire 2019 season.  The rotation was stout with a few hiccups here and there from the back end.

As we can imagine, there is no way the Rockies win 75 games without pitching.  Roster construction was a disaster and that was a major reason for the perceived failure of the 2019 team.  They were the worst offensive team in franchise history.

It began with the front office head scratching moves.  Before I start ranting, they do deserve credit for finally having the best pitching staff who can pitch at altitude.  Good pitching is forecast to continue a few more seasons.

My list of roster construction deficiencies:  (some of my comments may not be accurate but you get the drift)

  1. Ian Desmond – the worst wRC+ of all MLB players.  And blocking everyone at first base.
  2. Signing CarGo late in the spring training.  Blocking yet more players while there were more potentially better free agents out there.
  3. Bench players – Pat Valaika or any Dodgers hitter on their bench?  Carrying three catchers? All of them black holes at bottom of hitting lineup.
  4. Making Gerardo Parra everyday outfielder.  He is much better as fourth outfielder.
  5. Not letting Ryan McMahon, Tom Murphy, and Raimel Tapia get their opportunities.
  6. Standing pat at trade deadline.  Phillies, Brewers, Dodgers, and everyone not Rockies went out and got upper shelf players.
  7. Failure to fire Duane Espy as hitting coach.  Hitting is not about individual mechanics; it’s all about adjusting your expectations to help team.

This is my plan to make the team better in 2019 as an armchair general manager:

  1. Let CarGo go; he’s too old and his long swings can’t catch up to 94+ fastballs.
  2. Let DJLM walk; make Garret Hampson the second baseman.
  3. Put Ian Desmond on bench as super utility player and let McMahon play first base everyday.
  4. Get rid of all catchers and get some new catchers – Yasmani Grandal? Realmuto?
  5. Dahl in CF; Blackmon in RF.
  6. Trade Nolan Arenado to the Oakland A’s to get their boatload of talent similar to Holliday trade to A’s.  Brendan Rodgers at third base.
  7. Shot hear around the world! Sign Bryce Harper to five years and put him in LF.
  8. Fire Duane Espy and hire a hitting coach that understands how we work together as a team.
  9. Release Jake McGee.  See how Shaw pitch in spring training and potentially release him or trade him.
  10. D.J. Johnson will be in the bullpen.  Ditto for Jon Gray.  Peter Lambert move into rotation.  Or Jeff Hoffman.  Bettis in bullpen.
  11. Tell Marquez, Freeland, Anderson you are starters the whole year.
  12. Let Ottavino walk.  I don’t need 100% of runners on first base stealing second base without a throw from the catcher.  GRRRRR.

My plan as an armchair hitting coach:

  1. Learn how to be a fastball hitter from 85 MPH up to 102 MPH.  The idea is to ambush them on the first pitch.
  2. Learn plate discipline and don’t ever expand the zone to help the pitcher.  Make it rare to swing at balls out of the zone.  Put the pressure on pitchers.
  3. Learn how to hit curve balls without taking a step before swing.  My idea is to take a step in anticipation of fastball, but if a soft pitch shows up just delay start of your swing.  No more being way ahead of pitches.  In a side lesson, if you see a ball start low or outside, don’t swing.  I saw countless swings at pitches that looked like balls and then break farther away into an extreme ball.
  4. Learn how to bunt bunt bunt.  Even the great hitters.  The teams are playing extreme shifts giving hitters a freebie hit, yet they swing into shifts for outs.
  5. Increased emphasis on pitchers bunting.  Too many failed sac bunt attempts.
  6. Learn how to put balls in play with runners on third and less than two outs.  About 80% of third base runners stranded with less than two outs killing any momentums.
  7. If the ball is over the plate early in the count, swing at them!  Too many hitters were taking pitches and getting themselves into two-strike counts.  Stats in history of baseball show a very low batting average with two strikes on the batters.
  8. Lastly, while I do emphasize swinging at pitches early in the count, DO NOT swing at pitches that are uncomfortable.  If the pitcher make a good pitch (in on the hands yet it’s a strike), tip our hat to the pitcher and look for another pitch over the plate.  In other words, know when to ambush the first fastball.  Meaning really ambush it, not fist jam into easy outs.  Look at the video of Astros in 2017.  They ambushed a lot of fastballs on the first pitch.

This new post will serve as RWO’s comments thread throughout the hot stove season to the end of 2018.  New post will be up for 2019.  This thread can be used to discuss my armchair ideas.

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Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago

Giants sign Parra to a minor league deal with invite to spring training.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/02/giants-sign-gerardo-parra.html

roxnsox
roxnsox
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob K

Just watch – Gerardo will kill us when the teams meet (hey, that doesn’t mean I want him on our team, but I’ve just got a feeling)

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago

MlB Network’s top 100 Right Now

3. Nolan Arenado
30. Trevor Story
38. Charlie Blackmon
64. Kyle Freeland

https://medium.com/brewernation/mlb-networks-top-100-players-right-now-entering-2019-58a1e6460655

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
Agbayani
Agbayani
1 year ago

Rockies full roster reports tomorrow, and I’m just barely coming to terms with the fact that our offseason consists of … Daniel Murphy in, DJ LeMahieu out? Really? That’s it? (Oh, and Ottavino out, Mark Reynolds in I guess for you compleists out there. And maybe … Gerardo Parra out, in the sense of addition by subtraction.) I really can’t understand why ownership (Bridich?) didn’t see fit to make at least one impact acquisition. My best guess: Ian Desmond (and… Read more »

roxnsox
roxnsox
1 year ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Same old song from the top. “We really like our team….we just need to do a little better executing (fill in the blanks)…we expect (hope?) so-and-so to step up/rebound/mature,” etc.

sdcarp
sdcarp
1 year ago
Reply to  Agbayani

On paper, you’re correct. In “fact,” you’re probably correct. But (to paraphrase you), “if the planets align” and we see a legit Hampson/McMahon platoon at 2nd, a healthy Dahl in LF all season, Tapia splitting time with Desmond in CF, Tom Murphy emerging as half of a catching platoon, Scott Oberg verifies his 2nd half of 2018 and nails down the 8th inning slot, and Jeff Hoffman verifies his offseason “driveline” progress……………….this will feel like a significantly different team (even… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
1 year ago

Shaw: my bounce-back candidate for 2019! Don’t laugh … I called the same thing for Ottavino last spring, so maybe I’m onto something here. Seriously: relievers are like that. Dunn: it would be great to get sort of mediocre lefty reliever work out of him, taking the burden off some other guys. Hoffman: umm, I’m gonna say no on that one. I just haven’t seen any progress out of him, but most importantly, the stuff just doesn’t impress me. Desmond… Read more »

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
Agbayani
Agbayani
1 year ago

Hey, Bridich: you snooze, you lose. Padres sign Machado and immediately project as a team that’s 6 wins better than they were yesterday. (I assume he’ll play 3B, where right now the Padres projected as just barely above replacement level.) I’m not saying we should’ve signed Machado, but really, Yasmani Grandal or someone like that? Was that too much to ask for? The NL West just got better, our 18 or 19 games agains the Padres are no longer a… Read more »

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago

Fuentes to miss spring training.

“Fuentes injured

Corner infielder Josh Fuentes, last season’s Triple-A Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player — and known to the baseball world as third baseman Nolan Arenado’s cousin — sustained a broken left hamate bone and will miss his first Major League Spring Training. Fuentes, added to the 40-man roster during the offseason, was scheduled for surgery on Thursday.”

Agbayani
Agbayani
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob K

Too bad for Fuentes … I was kind of hoping he’d have a big start and somehow make the roster, if only because (1) he’s worked hard to get to this point, and (2) if cousin Josh is on the team, maybe Nolan would give us a home town discount.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
1 year ago

My homework assignment for RMH (and anyone else going to Spring Training): Looks as though my schedule won’t allow a trip to Phoenix for the first time in years. If I were going, I’d be watching for this: 1. Jeff Hoffman. I’ve seen the Driveline videos. I think the velocity increase is legit. I think he’s motivated. Can he be consistent with control/command? If so…..he’s “in” somewhere (5th SP, or BP). 2. Justin Lawrence. An under the radar guy that… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
1 year ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Carp – excellent questions. Justin Lawrence is intriguing … from what I’ve seen, he’s got a sidearm or 3/4 delivery that may be really effective against righties, a role that needs to be filled with Ottavino gone. 2B: I’m hoping McMahon nails it down. The lineup would still be too lefty-heavy for my taste, but Bud could still alternate lefty/righty everywhere but the top of the order, something like: Blackmon Dahl Arenado Murphy Story McMahon Desmond Catcher I’m kind of… Read more »

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago

Its really early but Shaw gets the loss today by giving up 2 runs on3 hits and 2 BBs in 2/3 inning. Of course it was McGee who gave up a run to let the score get tied in the previous inning.

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob K

Nice. Black can be maddening at times, but he’s the (near) perfect Manager for the Rockies due to his pitching expertise.

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
Reply to  sdcarp

It would help if he can just get over his failure to use the youngsters properly and learn how to win in the post season.

Agbayani
Agbayani
1 year ago

Some random observations as spring gets underway: – Padres: I can’t find the exact quote now, but a baseballthinkfactory commenter looked back at the top-rated minor league systems over the years. Conclusion: something like 13 out of 14 teams with top rated systems made the playoffs within two years. The Padres have the top-rated system now. Discuss. – Tulo: HR! He’s back! I’m a lifelong Yankee hater, but I’m rooting for the guy. Just for the occasional flash of what… Read more »

roxnsox
roxnsox
1 year ago
Reply to  Agbayani

I too root for Tulo to show transcendent flashes. It all went too wrong for him in various ways. Just keep the fabulousness to teams that don’t hurt the Rockies (hard to imagine; what division do we play this year? or who do the Yanks play in the NL?) or the Red Sox (’nuff said, sorry to the Sox haters).

sdcarp
sdcarp
1 year ago

For the record, I’m super excited, and mildly surprised by this. I didn’t want the Rockies to be left standing empty handed at the alter in Nolan opted for free agency – so I have been receptive to trade talk. But this is the best solution for the Rockies. Now – I say pursue extensions with Marquez, Freeland, and Dahl ala’ what the Yankees did yesterday with Aaron Hicks.

roxnsox
roxnsox
1 year ago

Whatever it takes/took to hold on to a future Hall of Famer! The team and fans NEED to see Nolan in a Rockies uniform, dazzling us and helping to keep this team in contention. I feel that he has the humility/character and work ethic along with the gigantic talent. The team and fans need a core player and star. This is great. I’ve said before that I worried about cuckoo money/length contracts, but this one is worth it.

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago

“Rockies: Terrin Vavra, SS (Rockies’ No. 14)

The son of Tigers coach Joe Vavra, Terrin was the Rockies’ third-round pick in the 2018 Draft. All the guy does is hit, including his .302/.396/.467 line during his pro debut in the short-season Northwest League. Look for him to hit his way up the ladder, with some sneaky pop, while playing multiple positions.”

roxnsox
roxnsox
1 year ago

The Rox were on TV vs. the Angels and I saw some good stuff, but a few glaring (to me) fails among bubble players: Jeff Hoffman and Carlos Estevez pitching, and Ramiel Tapia fielding – I don’t think he did anything at the plate, either. McGee wasn’t too sharp. It’s early, etc., etc. It’s easy to criticize, and a little bit easier still on guys that are and have been questionable. One of the only true statements in life: We’ll… Read more »

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
Reply to  roxnsox

Tapia makes too many mental errors. They should have traded him for anything anyone would offer.

Agbayani
Agbayani
1 year ago
Reply to  roxnsox

Tapia is getting a ton of playing time early, but I suspect it’s of the “show us why we shouldn’t cut you loose” variety. And he’s not off to a good start. With pitchers, it’s always tough to gauge early in spring. I’m still an Estevez fan, but the clock is ticking … he’s moving close to Jairo Diaz territory. Hoffman? I’ve been a Hoffman skeptic since the day we traded for him, and he’s done nothing to change my… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
1 year ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Might want to revisit that “Tapia isn’t off to a good start” comment. He’s looking pretty darn good (although I’m also in the Tapia skeptic category).

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Tapia has always had the physical talent. The problem is that he does not have a baseball IQ. He is not doing any better in that department than he ever has. He continues to make mental errors that may not go into the box score as errors but they do hurt the team.

Agbayani
Agbayani
1 year ago
Reply to  sdcarp

.375/.412/.563 – that’s Tapia’s slash line through all of 16 ABs so far this spring, so you’re right, Carp! He’s off to a good start. Keep it up and he’ll be good trade bait since it’s hard to see how he fits on this roster as a lefty hitting corner outfielder …

Bob K
Bob K
1 year ago
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