It has been a long off season and we still have a long way to go before we flip the calender to February 2015. The off season is feeling much longer than usual due to the fact the the entire NL West teams sans the Rockies have been active. Our beloved RWO site has remained quite busy despite the hibernation by the Rockies’ front office. Big heartfelt thanks to “Bob K.” for providing frequent transaction updates, “sdcarp” for providing commentary on the hot stove around the league, “Agbayani” for the honest opinions, and “Mike Raysfan” for the frequent comments on trade scenarios, and numerous readers who throw in comments every once in a while. It has been a really nice break from the long season for the RWO staff; we might appear to be hiding but we read every comment with interest especially the Hot Stove thread that has become long enough to take a day to read all of them. The CEO of RWO, “jaredean” hasn’t forgotten the RWO fans who have made contributions and many thanks to those were were able to afford the donations to keep this site going. Finally, RWO is still actively searching for one or two additional journalists who can volunteer their time to write one or two pre-game and post-game a week. It would be greatly appreciated if someone would step up to the plate.
The off-season began with an earth shattering (by Rox standards) move to dismiss Bill Geivett and Dan O’Dowd. The biggest winner was Walt Weiss who will no longer have Geivett’s desk overlooking the daily activities during the season. In the musical chair shuffle, Jeff Bridich stepped into the void left by Geivett and O’Dowd. He promptly included Weiss in all discussions regarding the roster. The first priority is to revive the pitching staff, both in the rotation and bullpen. Two pitching coaches (Jim Wright & Bo McLaughlin) were fired and replaced by Steve Foster (not that one who was started up the “Inside the Rockies”) and Darren Holmes. Their focus will be working on the mental aspect of pitching at Coors and doing special exercises to reduce arm injuries.
The Rockies also shuffled their minor league franchises around the country. Low A moved from Tri-Cities to Boise (Hawks), Tulsa Drillers is now New Britain (Connecticut) Rock Cats in AA, and finally the AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox is now Albuquerque Isotopes. The hope in moving to Albuqurque for the AAA team is that it might be easier to evaluate pitchers at altitude more comparable to the major league ball parks.
As we approach 2015, the fans are still waiting for some real roster makeover. So far Colorado traded Josh Rutledge for a bullpen arm in Jairo Diaz. In a controversial action, Dan Winkler was left unprotected and lost in the Rule 5 draft despite his TJ surgery. If he doesn’t pitch in 2015, he has to stay on the roster for all of 2016 which makes it possible that Winkler could be returned to Colorado. Juan Nicasio due to his lack of quality secondary pitches was DFA’ed. Of course the fans were thrilled to see the Mets sign “Money” away from us after Colorado tendered him a ridiculous amount of money to stay in Denver. Rockies also acquired RP Austin House from the A’s in exchange for Rule 5 pick, Mark Canha. Their biggest, but arguably inconsequential, move was signing Daniel Descalso to a two-year contract to provide infield depth.
Tulo has a love-hate relationship with the fans of Colorado, even within the RWO community. It centers around whether he should be traded or not. Two excellent articles were written recently. ” RhodeIslandRoxfan” from Purple Row provided an excellent summary of why Tulo should remain in Colorado. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post provided an update of Tulo. Tulo’s chances of moving are pretty much nil and he is working hard on his body with the #1 focus to stay on the field the whole season. He has no burning desire to leave Colorado.
In the meantime, we have some outfield depth to trade from including some sell high candidates and CarGo. Bridich has reportedly been receiving inquiries from several teams checking about the availability of our outfielders. Justin Morneau is also a sell high candidate that may bring in pitching talent of some value. It has been frustrating for the Rockies fans to wait while all other NL West teams are active this off season.
In summary, Colorado Rockies definitely need a direction well defined. Should we blow up now and rebuild or should we try to get the pieces to be a contender? And keep kicking the proverbial can (if we are injury free mantra) down the road. A clue came from Walt Weiss saying that we likely would be changing direction if 2015 is a repeat of the last few years. Quoted from the last paragraph: “We are at a point where we’ve got to turn it around,” said Weiss, who is entering the second year of a three-year contract that pays him about $2 million. “The reality of it is, if it doesn’t happen this year, yeah, you’re probably looking at going a different way at that point.”
The roster is essentially the same as when the 2014 season ended. The fans are still waiting to see what happens at the catching position, what changes will be made to the rotation, and who will reside in the bullpen. It makes sense to move Rosario to the AL. The bullpen locks/near-locks as it looks like today are Brothers, Hawkins, Kahnle, Logan, and Zero. Without further moves, the rotation looks like JDLR, Lyles, Matzek, Chacin(?), and Bergman who will fill in for an injured starter. Chad Bettis has been told that he’s moving back to starting pitcher. That would give Jon Gray and Eddie Butler additional time in the minor leagues.
It’s my personal observation/opinion that we should look for a lot of speed in the top two spots of the order and these two guys should be speed specialists on the road. Speed is essential as it only takes one hit to bring a guy home from first base (get on base & steal 2nd) without sacrificing an out for a bunt. That is preferable to praying for two hits to get the runner home from first.
Don’t forget to put on purple glasses and drink some purple Kool Aid during the holidays as our record is a perfect 0-0. Once we get past the New Year’s festivities, it’s okay to remove your purple glasses and dump some Kool Aid in the sink. How many of us were able to keep our New Year’s resolutions annually? 🙂 Have happy and safe holidays. I shall see you those who will be there during my week in Phoenix March 8-15, 2015. Happy New Rockies! *snickers*