Contention Pretention

Rox Blast Into 2017 in Milwaukee; Home Friday vs Dodgers

The Colorado Rockies’ 2017 MLB campaign begins with a prayer for No. 35, the right-hander Chad Bettis, presently working a chemotherapy regimen, with vigor, pointing toward a late-summer return to bolster a rotation pushing toward October and the playoffs.

Construction of the current issue of the Rockies dates to late 2016, when then manager Walt Weiss was heard muttering on his way out of the dugout, “one more nasty crack from that Bob K guy on RWO and I’m outta here.”  A day after the season ended, Weiss handed in his playbook, saving a week or two of hemming and hawing, and clearing the way for general manager Jeff Bridich to commence his renovations.

Bridich moved quickly, and after a decidedly boring vetting and interview process accented by the usual dose of rumor and speculation, chose Bud Black, the one-time Kansas City Royals lefthander and manager of Division rival San Diego, to become the new clubhouse leader in Denver, which was what everybody figured he’d do in the first place.  Upon accepting the job, Black tapped former MLB catcher and Florida Marlins manager Mike Redmond to be his right-hand man, alongside returning Colorado coaches Stu Cole, Steve Foster and Darren Holmes.  Duane Espy is back as the hitting coach, and he has an assistant, Jeff Salazar.  Tony Diaz is on to direct traffic at first base, and long-time organization man Ronnie Gideon and bullpen catcher Aaron Munoz complete the staff.

Leadership in place, Bridich headed off to Disney World for the MLB Winter Meeting, and came away with a major prize, erstwhile Washington Nationals infielder Ian Desmond, late of the Texas Rangers, who signed a 5 year, $70 million deal to play 1st-base, a perplexing move that led to another round of rumor and speculation, with RWO denizens waiting in anticipation of “the next shoe to drop.”  As the Aroldis Chapman—Kenley Jansen—Mark Melancon sweepstakes broiled among the big spenders, Bridich inked instead a secondary level free agent reliever, left-hander Mike Dunn, another former Marlin, to slide into the slot vacated by the departure of Boone Logan, and following a pause for the holidays, made his riskiest, high-reward-potential transaction, acquiring the former prohibitive Royals closer, Greg Holland, recovering from 2015 Tommy John surgery, to come aboard and solidify the back-end of the Rockie bullpen.  A “make-good” minor league deal was enough to dissuade 1st-baseman Mark Reynolds from a summer in Japan, and Black got to add former Padre Alexi Amarista to the bench for a year and a million bucks.

The group convened in Phoenix to execute the proverbial Rites of Spring, but almost before everyone had their socks and underwear sorted into the appropriate drawers, wheels started flying astray in disparate directions.  The Bettis revelation came early, along with news of a “stress reaction,” which I’m told is not as bad as a “stress fracture,” which is not as bad as a broken bone, to the sixth rib on the right side of budding outfield sensation David Dahl.  Left-hander Chris Rusin, who modestly practices the Jorge De La Rosa approach to Spring Training without raising the ire of Ed the Ump, turned-up with a strained oblique, and no sooner had the exhibition season careened into gear than Desmond got a taste of what it’s like to be a Rockie, the Ron Hunts of getting hit in the hand, absorbing a break to the second metatarsal in his left one.  Then March 14 catcher Tom Murphy, looking to throw-out a runner at 2nd-base, slammed his right forearm into the bat of hitter Anthony Rizzo, another break, another trip to the DL.

Wounded as they are, the Rockies head into 2017 featuring an all-world infield that includes MVP candidate Nolan Arenado at 3rd, second-year shortstop Trevor Story, and 2016 NL batting champion DJ LeMahieu at 2nd.  Reynolds will hold-down 1st until Desmond returns, backed-up by the Stephen Cardullo Story.  You have to be left-handed to play the outfield for Colorado, and Gerardo Parra, who is projecting a .371 BA, 140 runs scored, and a 1.000 fielding percentage, will be in left until Dahl can recover from his issue.  The exquisite Charlie Blackmon, Chuck Nasty, will be in center, with veteran Carlos Gonzalez, heading into free-agency after the last season of his 7-year deal, rounding things out in right.

The starting pitchers are tasked with covering not only the leadership void created by the loss of Bettis, but also his 14 2016 victories and 186 innings pitched.  Right-handers Jon Gray and Tyler Chatwood will bookend left-hander Tyler Anderson on a ridiculously young staff that will also include some combination of rookies Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and German Marquez.  Freeland, a lefty, appears to have nailed down the No. 4 slot, but expect Black to engage in avoidance behavior with respect to the fifth starter, at least until Rusin, who can be good when he’s not getting shelled, can get his act together.  The starters will throw to a catching corps that features more unfettered youth.  2016’s big surprise, 24 year-old Tony Wolters, takes-over the starting role from Nick Hundley, another Bob K favorite who’s moved-on to backing-up Buster Posey in San Francisco. 29 year-old Dustin Garneau will back-up Wolters until the return of Murphy, who turns 26 on Monday.

Hudson comprises the final line of defense in a reconfigured bullpen where last year’s emergency closer, Carlos Estevez, will in 2017 be tasked with a 6th or 7th inning role, and that in and of itself should be telling us something.  Adam Ottavino, Jake McGee and Dunn are in the mix for the 7th and 8th, and Jordan Lyles and Scott Oberg (“love his stuff, love his makeup;” chicks dig the long ball) will accompany Estevez and whoever doesn’t make the rotation on the long end of the ‘pen.  Cristhian Adames joins Cardullo, Amarista, and Garneau on a bench where everybody who has a top of the head higher than 66 inches above the ground will be looking over their shoulders, and is out of options.

It’s all primed for big fun and it all starts at 12:10 MT Monday at Miller Park in Milwaukee where Gray (10-10, 4.61 in 2016) will face-off against righty Junior Guerra (9-3, 2.81 in 2016) of the Brewers.  Anderson gets the nod Tuesday in a 5:40 start against Zach Davies, Chatwood will go against Wily Peralta at 6:10 on Wednesday, and all signs point to Freeland Thursday versus Chase Anderson at 11:40 am.  The home opener is set for Friday at 2:10 in LoDo at Coors Field, and RMH will be here to tell you about that one.

Let’s get this party started.  PLAY BALL!

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rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

Update – Freeland will pitch Friday. Senzatela in Thursday and Marquez in bullpen.

I already have tickets for Freeland debut but thinking about going to Saturday’s game – Kershaw vs. Gray. I hope to see changing of the guard Saturday.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

Today is a great day for me. Eff the Giants. 2 blown saves. Eff the Cubs who let Aroldis Chapman walk. And eff the Yanks who lost today. Yahoo!

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

It looked good for the Rockies as Mad Bum hit 2 home runs and Melancon gave the game away in the 9th.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

Two takeaways: bullpen and bottom half of lineup contributed to victory.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

I’ve been traveling lots and super busy at w

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

I’ve been traveling like mad and super-busy at work. That said, I was able to follow the game a bit. My 81-81 prediction isn’t quite a rosy as most here (although still very good compared to previous years), and today is a good example of why I pumped the brakes (just a little bit) on a bolder prediction. These young SPers still need work on avoiding the “wheels falling off” big inning. Gray looked like Noah Syndergaard’s twin brother for… Read more »

Bob in Indy
Bob in Indy
3 years ago

So while we all predict a winning or losing season, our expert Sdcarp (Sabermetrics Data Consultant and Rotisserie Professional) sits on the fence at 81-81.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob in Indy

It’s pathetic – I’ll own it!

If Bettis is healthy and we are relying on only 1 rookie pitcher – I probably go 83-84 wins. Don’t get wrong – I’m super excited about Freeland/Marquez/Senzatela/Hoffman. But the League is tough on rookie pitchers.

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

Off topic, but I really liked this story about the Padres looking out for one of their former prospects who’s gone through some difficult times: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/kschiffer/san-diego-padre-for-life-team-continues-support-for-disabled-former-pitcher

Bob in Indy
Bob in Indy
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Awesome, Ag. Nice find.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Agree – great story. Thanks for the link. I thought about it for a while after I read it, and found it even more amazing because it’s the first I’ve heard of it. I follow minor league baseball a little bit. I find it cool the Padres haven’t publicized this. They’re just doing a good deed without self promotion. Speaking of Padres, even though Clayton Richard shut out the Dodgers tonight, their SP is awful. BUT……they have some exciting young… Read more »

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

So Ag says Dunn merely replace Boone Logan? WRONG!!!! Holland is not ready at beginning of season???? BOOM you’re wrong. 2 saves back to back games. Cardullo 2 walks in PH role. Parra is worth the money! Some serious PAT adjustments that need to be done by Ag!!!!

I’m sticking to 87 or better wins just on bullpen alone and depth.

Rockies in 1st place alone after tonight if the late game holds!

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

Didn’t the Brewers set the all time team record for strikeouts last year? Not to take anything away from our pitchers (who are racking up some big K numbers – 14 in each of the first two games), but not every team will be so compliant. Interesting that Dunn had 3 Ks looking … maybe those brain dead free swinging Brewers are overthinking things a bit … by the way, Boone Logan was pretty good (when healthy)! Holland has been… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

While RMH is running over to Coors Field to buy his playoff tickets, I’ll post a few totally random thoughts in totally random order: 1. McGee faced one batter. Gave up a single. But did hit 97 MPH on the stadium gun, That’s a good sign. 2. Geraldo Parra is a horrific baserunner. When that guy steps on the field, his brain shuts off. I feel like the ROOT guys have been paid off to say good things about him.… Read more »

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

Rockies couldn’t find any takers and release Jason Motte.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/04/rockies-designate-jason-motte.html

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

Sloppy base running on both sides tonight.

Bob in Indy
Bob in Indy
3 years ago

While I didn’t post it, I did think Parra would get thrown out at 2B tonight and it came to be. Monday out at home, Tuesday out at third, and Wednesday out at second. Probably get picked off first tomorrow.

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob in Indy

Looks like Reynolds and Parra are trying to see who can be the worse base runner.

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob in Indy

Hah! Good one, Bob in WV. Parra is trying to “run for the cycle.” I’m not seeing these games (out of town, and haven’t paid for MLB access) so I doubly appreciate the commentary.

Bob in Indy
Bob in Indy
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

I was actually thinking he’d get thrown out trying to stretch at single into a double, but a caught stealing it was. I guess in lieu of a pickoff today he could get doubled up there. That said, we can really only fault him on getting thrown out at third. He should have been given a stop sign on Monday. The out at third on Tuesday was all his as the play was in front of him as he was… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob in Indy

My assessment of Parra is that he’s a good (not great) talent but his brain just clicks to “off” when he steps on the field. I’m not saying he’s dumb. I’ve personally known some really smart off-the-field athletes who had the same issue. In a competitive situation, they just don’t think. They react. You see it with Parra on the base paths, with his outfield throws, and in the batter’s box taking (or generally not taking) pitches. The good news… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

Greg Holland is a bad ass!

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Amen!!

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

In 2016 the Rockies were 12 – 20 in one run games for 27th in MLB. They are starting good with a 2 – 0 record in one run games this year. Still a long way to go but a good start.

Bullpen is doing good so far but if they don’t soon start getting more out of the starting pitching the bullpen will wear down.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob K.

Two words for you – “Bud Black.” Two things are happening simultaneously. Thing 1 – Bud (and honestly virtually any real Major League Manager) just flat out Manages the end of the game better than WW. Thing 2 – Bud has managed, from the day he was hired and called Jon Gray, the psychology of the team infinitely better. The guys believe in themselves. Bud gets one of the most fundamental concepts in all types of management – “put people… Read more »

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

Have to agree with you especially on the catching. In previous years, we kept hearing about the next great catcher moving through the system and every one of them failed at the major league level. Stealing Tony Wolters from Cleveland was brilliant and Cleveland is still mad about it. Something I have never seen before was Wolters wearing a cheat sheet on his arm like the NFL quarterbacks use. I don’t know if it is helping but it is a… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

Black didn’t do anything special in Game 4 of the Brewers series, but then again I’m thinking about the many ways Walt Weiss could have screwed this one up. The following come to mind: -Senzatela in his first big league start was pitching a shutout through 5 innings. 93 pitches, so it’s possible Walt would’ve thought … let the kid go out for the 6th. Give him a chance for the classic “quality start.” If a runner gets on I’ll… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

I’ll take the liberty to speculate on a 4th BB/WW difference (not related to pitching)
– BB doesn’t know the meaning of Sunday lineup.

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Things are going great and all that, but it occurs to me that the first Sunday of the season is now tomorrow, and it also occurs to me that Alexi Amarista and Christhian Adames have yet to start a game … don’t jinx it, Carp!

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Well played.

We may see one, but we won’t see both.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

A quick side note – MLB is using different methodology for measuring pitch velocity this year. I believe they’re attempting to catch the ball as it’s released from the pitcher’s hand as opposed to home plate. The early consensus opinion is that this will result in an artificial 1 MPH spike in pitcher’s velocity.

Bottom line – last year’s 90 MPH is 91 MPH this year. But even with the different methodolgy, Tyler Anderson is looking like a significant gainer.

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago
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