With the possible exception of certain loud noises originating out of the northeast portion of Nebraska, there are certainly very few expectations hanging over the Colorado Rockies as they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in their 2016 Major League Baseball season opener tonight at 7:40 pm at Chase Field in Phoenix. Expectations or no, Pooter has it 100% correct as we root for all of our Rockies to have injury-free career years, the rudimentary, non-analytic form of the Planet Alignment Theory. Should that come to pass, 6 months hence maybe we can be thinking about some numbers, for example, 82.
Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich focused his restructuring efforts on accumulating mitt-thunking fastballs and addressing fundamental flaws in the Colorado defense. He acquired free agents Jason Motte and Chad Qualls and traded Corey Dickerson to Tampa for Jake McGee to shore-up a bullpen that was shredded and dysfunctional as 2015 came to a close. He added free agent outfielder Gerardo Parra, acknowledging that Dickerson was never going to be able to competently cover Coors’ left-field ponderosa, despite whatever Drew Goodman was trying to tell us about it. He signed slugger Mark Reynolds to add some pop from the right side.
Reynolds will pair with lefty-swinging Ben Paulsen, who’s been soaking-up all kinds of props and appreciation from the analysts here at RWO for his solid and clutch rookie performance filling in for the punch-drunk Justin Morneau. The All Stars DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado are back at at 2nd and 3rd. When Spring Training began, shortstop was the story, what with incumbent Jose Reyes suspended and preparing to stand before the bar of justice in Honolulu, but before you could say “Troy Tulowitzki,” Story was the shortstop.
Trevor Story, the 2011 1st-rounder out of Irving, Texas, seized the position by the throat on the first day of camp and refused to be denied, leaving Reyes’ status basically “beside the point,” but as it turns out, Reyes’ wife realized she had something like 23 millions reasons to refuse to testify against the veteran, and on Friday the domestic battery charges Reyes was facing were dropped. The suspension, however remains in force as commissioner Rob Manfred contemplates MLB’s actions under its new domestic violence guidelines. carp is holding fast to his call for a 60-game sanction. I myself am holding-out for a Pete Rose style lifetime ban, and I’ll bet Bridich is right there with me, but chances are Reyes gets by with a slap on the wrist, leaving the GM with a situation he’d prefer to duck.
@Kate Nazty’s brother, 2014 All Star Charlie Blackmon, anchors the Colorado outfield, flanked by fellow All Star Carlos Gonzalez in right and Parra in left. Nick Hundley, in the last season of his 2-year deal, will lead the defense from behind the plate, backed up by newcomer Tony Wolters, a surprise waiver claim from Cleveland in mid-March. Wolters will be joined on the bench by another former Indian, Ryan Raburn, who’ll be the 4th outfielder. Rookie Cristhian Adames made the team as the utility infielder, and spark plug Brandon Barnes will be around for at least a couple of turns around the pitching rotation.
Motte starts the season on the DL with a sore shoulder, an ominously similar ailment to the one that set him down in 2015 (but “it’s not in the same place,” really). McGee gets the closer slot by default, at the head of an 8-man pen that includes veterans Christian Bergman and Chris Rusin in the “long man” roles, key figures to back up a starting rotation already being held together by duct tape and baling wire. Yohan Flande has headed for New Mexico, with explicit instructions to keep his iPhone handy.
2013 first-rounder Jon Gray also begins the campaign on the Disabled List, nursing a strained abdominal, and the thinking seems to be Gray will be ready to go once a fifth starter is needed, which sounds pretty wrongheaded to me, but I haven’t been consulted. The immortal Jordan Lyles, one rapid muscle twitch away from another freak season-ending calamity, slots into the number 4 hole and gets the home opener on Friday. Tyler Chatwood is back from TJ surgery number 2 and will be the “3.” Chad Bettis is promising to build on a surprising and strong 2015 performance behind Colorado’s undisputed ace, the affable prankster Jorge De La Rosa (9-7, 4.17 in 2015), the DeaLeR, the most successful pitcher in the history of the Rockies.
DLR purports to be pain-free for the first time since the late 20th century. Whether he can pitch without pain remains to be seen after what’s been described as an “uneven” spring, but nevertheless the lefty will be up on the Chase Field mound when the Dbacks come to bat tonight, facing off against Cy Young Award runner-up Zack Greinke (19-3. 1.66 in 2015). De La Rosa will encounter an Arizona lineup that misses the exquisite center-fielder AJ Pollock, out indefinitely with a broken elbow. Jean Segura, over from the Brewers, will lead off and play 2nd-base. MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt anchors the Dbacks’ order from the 3-slot. Greinke will bat 8th ahead of shortstop Nick Ahmed, who’s supposed to turn it back around for Segura. Colorado is going with Blackmon first, followed by Story and Gonzalez, ahead of the Rockies’ own MVP candidate, the other-worldly Arenado.
It’s a fine, clear evening in the desert, 85º with a 5 MPH breeze blowing across from 1st to 3rd. ROOT Sports will have the telecast, featuring the usual zany crew led by Goodman, whose sidekicks this season will be Jeff Huson and Ryan Spilborghs, along with a supporting cast of Jenny, Marc, Cory, Jason, and even perhaps Jaredean. Jack Corrigan and Jerry Schemmel are back on the 850 am KOA radio dial.
There are 162 of these to go. Let’s have at it. Play Ball!
|COLORADO (68-94 in 2015)
Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
Trevor Story (R) SS
Carlos Gonzalez (L) RF
Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
Gerardo Parra (L) LF
Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
Nick Hundley (R) C
DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
Jorge De La Rosa (L) P
|ARIZONA (79-83 in 2015)
Jean Segura (R) 2B
Chris Owings (R) CF
Paul Goldschmidt (R) 1B
Welington Castillo (R) C
David Peralta (L) RF
Yasmany Tomas (R) LF
Jake Lamb (L) 3B
Zack Greinke (R) P
Nick Ahmed (R) SS