Great for baseball to be back and back at this site. You ask a great question Orange Rox. Although I was on the season long DL healthwise last year from the website, I am known as rose and purple glasses guy here. So I am an optomist, even this season, so here is my read on the off-season:
- This year’s off-season was a poof FA class. Aside from a few good pen arms, the market for which experienced unfathomable inflation which pushed the Rox out of the market, there wasn’t good reason to spend big.
- The one exception was and is Lohse. His style and durability seems a fit and if would only cost the team a second, not a first round pick. But do you give 30 mill tona guy closer to 40 than 30? Plus it appears he does not want to come here. Still, that signing would have made a big winter and bring respect nationally and locally to the Rox.
- The team was aggressive in the trash heap market. They likely would have won the Pavano auction bjt then he got hurt. They did sign Volstad who was a #3/4 with the Marlins as late as 2010, before the whole dreaded year in Chicago. Marc Wiley sees a lot still there in a guy only 26. They missed on a couple of guys but I think Volstad is still really a major leagueer, as opposed to most trash heap guys.
- About the guys you mentioned, there is more there than might appear. The Rox pushed hard to get both McBride and Gardner in the Ubaldo deal after they said no to Kippnis. Gardner has been kept at Tulsa, not COS, which shows they value him as a pitcher. He is a sinker guy, but with more K potential than Cookie was. They put him on the 40 to avoid losing him to Rule 5. Look for him to fill the swing role possibly this year. Weiss wants double play with K potential pitchers. That is Gardner. Of the other names Skahill has a good arm and pitched well in the bigs at the end of the year. Given the return to a 90s focus on the pen, they will use the I-25 shuttle a lot, so those names may help more than we think now.
- The team may only have 3 top 100 in the minors, but they do have talent. Guys like Ortega, Parker, Wheeler, and Blackmon who will play in the bigs this year. What surprised me and more importantly the national broadcasters was the lack of trades from their depth. Both Fowler and Cuddy could have gone, but they were not going to give them away (especially Dex who they have been waiting to see break out). Aside from the Royals (a win now move for a guy who wasn’t even a #2, which shows how hard it is to get young established top line pitching ) and the Blue Jays (can they field a minor league team this year?),you saw almost no traded this offseason deals for quality prospects. I still think they will make deals this year, but when people have needs.
- If the starting 8 is healthy, this is tge 2nd best starting 8 on paper in the West. The Dodgers look better, but they are older and have big egos. We do need to see Baby Bull improve a lot (he has worked hard so ee shall see), we need to see if Rutledge can stay healthy and make adjustments, and 3b needs to see someone claim it and play good D until Arendo is ready (his drop in the rankings despite still being young shows how “what have you done lately” scouting can be). But they have depth and flexibility. I think the change at hitting coach will be good, especially with so many young guys.
- The big one – pitching especially starting. As i said here about a month ago, 2012 was simply weird. The park had been playing much closer to normal (never will normal) the past 8 years and then boom, it plays worse than the 1990s. Was it the heat and extreme dryness? That had to be a factor. I have lived here since 1975 as a 5-year-old and never experienced that bad, including evacuating our home here in COS while friends lost theirs. We saw BAonBIP jump from 300 to 322 or so. We had too many hurt pitchers pitching, too many rooks pitching. Too many badly called games by a rookie.
Here is the thing – do you panic and say this is the new normal? Or do.you loook for smart ways to improve? The Rox did the later. Signing Wiley as their pitching coordinator was best off-season move. They need to fix the 600 innings then decline rule that has been true here, if it can be fixed. They need a strategy for pitching that doesn’t change every year, which Wiley will do. On the field they have two guys coming back who can be #2s at least if healthy. We saw it from Chacin and I think DLR will be strong (he is key). Francis can be a solid #4. Every year post shoulder repair matters. They need a big step-up from Pomeranz. He has #1, CC Sabathia talent. But so did others who never made it. Then you have competition for #5 and the swing/partner/Coors field guy between Chatwood. Friedrich, Volstad and others. Lets be honest – this is not the Giants starting 5, we know that. And every team in the division i think will have a solid pen (including the Rox if they are not over used and stay healthy). But if Coors plays like 2005 to 2011, they have the potential to pitch well enough to let their bats win it.
8. Have to add this, I do think the change from Tracy to Weiss alone will make the team better. The team has under achieved since 2009 and Tracy has a reputation of after year 1 guys getting too comfortable. Lets see what Walt can do.
So there is the off-season and what i read as the team’s strategy. I could be wrong and this team may lose 110 games. But sometimes flying under the radar, getting the house in order and focused, and getting healthy is more important than a big blockbuster change.
We shall see. As of today i can see from 78 to 88 wins. Should be fun anyways.
LETS PLAY BALL!