Hot Stove Season Ends

The hot stove season has officially ended except for transactions during spring training.  I purchased both the 2017 Bill James Handbook of Baseball and Baseball Prospectus 2017 books.  There was some good information in both of these books that can help us project the 2017 Rockies.  I recommend reading both books as I cannot cover everything in this limited space.

The two popular projection systems varied widely.  Fangraphs’ ZiPS projected Colorado to win 83 games based on cumulative projected team WAR of 35 plus cumulative team plus replacement-level team WAR which is 48.  Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system projected the Rockies to win only 74 games.

Unlike previous spring trainings in franchise history, there are practically no positional battles:  Tom Murphy/Tony Wolters, Ian Desmond/Mark Reynolds(likely to win 25-man spot), DJLM, Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, David Dahl, Charlie Blackmon, and CarGo are the presumptive locks for the position players.  Locks for bench players because of guaranteed contracts are Gerardo Parra and Alexi Amarista both of whom will join catcher and first baseman backups.  That’s four bench players right there and depending if they carry a 12-man or 13-man pitching staff, there might be one more spot.  So the positional players on the fence to break camp with the Rockies are Chris Denorfia and Christian Adames.  It looks like Jordan Patterson will be a victim of the numbers game, but he no doubt will provide depth as the season drags on.

On the pitching side, there appears to be a lot of depth in both the rotation and bullpen.  Some pitchers are obvious while others will have to battle it out.  Early indications have Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson, and Tyler Chatwood in the rotation.  Anything can happen during Cactus League play.  If those four starters hold down their spots, the fifth spot appears up for grabs between Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, and Kyle Freeland.  I heard at the Bud Black Q&A session that Ryan Castellani and Yency Almonte are knocking on the doors if there is an emergency need for them.  I believe the battle will come down to Hoffman and Freeland.  Hoffman has the pedigree (top 50 prospect in most publications) while it has been said that Freeland has nothing left to show in the minors while Hoffman can use a little more seasoning at Albuquerque.

Colorado rolled their dice on the health of the relievers.  Adam Ottovino is the presumptive closer to open the season as he is nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery.  Mike Dunn is not the best healthy reliever available via free agency, but he should bring the veteran presence.  Greg Holland is a high risk/high ceiling signee.  It says a lot about the Rockies front office when they beat out several teams for Holland’s services.  Jairo Diaz is back from the TJ, but he may need a couple of months to get back to 100%.  Jake McGee, if healthy, should be better than 2016 but he is unlikely to see return to his 2014 form.  Jason Motte and Chad Qualls were signed to two-year contracts before the 2016 season as place holders until the contention window opens up.  But the window opened much sooner than expected, so the Rockies may have to eat the sunk cost of both pitchers.  Chris Rusin and Jordan Lyles appear to have the long relief spots.  Scott Oberg and Carlos Estevez gained valuable experience last year.  Miguel Castro and Sam Moll are probably next in line if the bullpen sees attrition.

Baseball Prospectus has Colorado’s farm system ranked at #9.  They were #3 last year but the system graduated a few players to the majors such as Gray, Dahl, and Story.  The Prospectus also had several leaderboards for the various categories.  CarGo and NoDo are top 20 for HRs; Blackmon tied for 16th in runs; DJLM, NoDo, and Blackmon are all in top 20 for batting average; CarGo and NoDo tied for 15th in RBI; Blackmon 17th in stolen bases; nobody in top 20 for OBP; NoDo, CarGo, and Murphy (surprise!) are in top 10 for slugging percentage; Murphy, NoDo, Story, and CarGo all in the top 20 for isolated slugging (whatever that means); Wolters #16 in Runs Above Average (for catchers only); NoDo 9th in WARP for the NL; Patterson (surprise) is #10 for NL’s Rookie WARP; both NoDo and Blackmon in top 10 for biggest WARP decline; there were no pitchers in nearly all of the top 10 statistical categories except for Hoffman #2 in NL rookies’ WARP.

I can’t help but mention Jack Wynkoop once again.  In the summary of prospects further down the pipeline, it quoted, “Don’t scout the statline, but lefty Jack Wynkoop slung a Buehrle-esque mid 80s fastball and struck out 144 batters while walking just 12 in 170.2 innings across two levels.  If I calculate it correctly, that’s 0.63 BB9 walk rate.  And a 12:1 K/BB ratio.   I loved the Mark Buerhle comparison.

Let’s go to my favorite chapter in the Baseball Prospectus book – managers.  It went on and on about the various components of managing the baseball team.   In a nutshell, today’s managers have to work in concert with the upper management due to advanced sabermetrics.  It also had a stat called wRM+.  Quoted from BP: “…created RM and wRM+ in order to better understand the degree to which big-league managers match their best relievers to the game’s biggest moments.”  wRM+ is scaled to 100 ( over 100 good and under 100 bad).  Bud Black had the score of 103.1 which was bettered by only two other managers (Bruce Bochy, of course with his parade of pitchers for each batter in the final three innings and Joe Girardi).  Obviously JB was on to something when he hired Bud Black plus the fact Black had modernized himself as today’s manager. 

Admittedly, I do have huge Purple Shades on, but I am still projecting 90 wins based changing the manager, a lot more depth on both sides of the ball, and lack of regression by the hitters. I remind you, EdtheUmp that you owe me a case of beer when we hit 90 wins.  Also I am adding in the fact that I believe we will steal a lot more bases than PECOTA projections.  Only Blackmon is on the leader board, but it fails to account for Dahl and Story both of whom has potential for 20+ SBs.  There’s a little bit of speed from DJLM and Desmond that can add 10-15 SBs each.  And Black’s wRM+ is worth three wins in my mind.

For the first time, I will be able to attend the Rockies’ spring training in three weeks knowing what to expect.  This year, I do not have to hope the bench and pitchers have a perfect PAT to get us over the hump.  We already have the 40-man roster and up to two NRIs that will replace deadweights.  90 wins, baby! NL West crown, baby!

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sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

Nice!

I’d like to touch on this:

“Baseball Prospectus has Colorado’s farm system ranked at #9. They were #3 last year but the system graduated a few players to the majors such as Gray, Dahl, and Story.”

You know you’re in a good place when you graduate Gray, Dahl, and Story and still rank in the top 10.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

This is good news:

http://m.rockies.mlb.com/news/article/215929480/miguel-castro-looks-to-make-rockies-bullpen/

Miguel Castro is supremely talented. If he’s healthy……it’s a big, big deal.

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

They discussed the Pecota rankings on MLB network and pointed out that in the Rockies case, the Pecota prediction is based on every Rockies regressing from what they did last year. They predict that no Rockies player will improve or be as good as last year. Pecota has a hard time with certain teams. One of those teams Is the Baltimore Orioles where the Orioles have consistently outperformed their Pecota projections. They have the Orioles predicted to have a losing… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob K.

I subscribed to Baseball Prospectus years ago. They were big on PECOTA. Maybe that’s even their system???? I don’t know. But I thought it was awful at the time. Have really paid attention to it since.

Fundamentally – it seems like attempting to predict the outcome of a team relying on young, high ceiling SPers is risky business in general.

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

Arenado landed in position 12 with 3 other 3rd baseman listed above him. Arenado outperformed all 3 of them but “he is penalized for playing at Coor’s Field”.

I liked Billy Ripken’s comment that his 4 gold gloves were the “product of Coor’s Field”.

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

Donaldson was #3, Bryant was #4 and Machado was #7 with Arenado at #12 makes four 3rd baseman in the top 12. I can pretty much guarantee that if the Cubs had picked Gray, Bryant would have fallen to the Rockies. If Bryant had gone to the Rockies, I can guarantee you that he would not be ranked in the top 10. He is on a big market team with lots of publicity. He is not a better third baseman… Read more »

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

Appel went first to the Astros who have since traded him and he has not lived up to the hype. If the Rockies had gotten Bryant, my understanding was that they planned to convert him to a 1st baseman. Last year O’Dowd made the claim that they intended to convert him to an outfielder.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

Quote from Bud Black (regarding naming a Closer) in this AM’s very good Patrick Saunders article: “I think that works best, to have that one guy, because that sort of sets everybody else up,” Black said. “It’s fluid every night, but each guy, when the game starts, knows when they are probably going to pitch. …There is comfort in that.” Every year, without fail, there are Managers that claim they’ll use multiple RPers as their Closer. Honestly – this multiple… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

First – Jared, thanks for running the site and keeping this little community together even through what may be some difficult times for you. Second – RMH, nice work on keeping us updated on developments and pumping up the enthusiasm. I do think your projections are on the order of a “best case scenario,” which is why I’ll start digging through the various projections to find a reasonable way for this team to get to 85 wins, which in the… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

A brief note on Chris Rusin: I keep hearing that he’s very good as a reliever, very marginal as a starter. That’s why most guys wind up in the bullpen! In general, moving from starter to reliever usually causes a pitcher to get “better” to the tune of almost one run of ERA (last I checked it was about 0.8 runs per 9 innings). Rusin last year (by fielding independent pitching): 3.99 as a starter, 2.92 as a reliever. We… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Couple of things here Ag. First, I’ve read quotes from Black suggesting he’s receptive to using Hoffman/Marquez/Freeland in the Pen as a transitional bridge to the Major Leagues as well as out of need. I’ve written many times on this website that I’m an old Earl Weaver fan and think this strategy should be used more often. So “bravo” to Black for being receptive to this. Second – I’ve promised myself that I’m done being a Lyles apologist. But damn… Read more »

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

Rockies likely to see De La Rosa again as he signs a minor league deal with the Diamond backs to compete for a bullpen spot.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/02/diamondbacks-sign-jorge-de-la-rosa-to-minors-deal.html

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

As if RMH’s enthusiasm for the 2017 season needs to be stoked any more, FanGarphs Eno Sarris came out with his 10 bold predictions for 2017 today. Lo and behold, he’s a high as RMH on the Rox: “2. The Rockies will finally have the pitching to make the postseason. At the top of the rotation, the Rockies may have one of their best pitchers ever this year. Jon Gray was already pretty good (15th in K-BB% last year), and… Read more »

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Sixth-best in the league! Whoa.

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

RMH, you gotta admit I’ve shown remarkable discipline in not raining on your enthusiasm … at least so far. And that will continue for a while, although I did see Greg Holland on a local TV spring training spot talking (not entirely convincingly) about how he isn’t concerned about velocity, he just wants to feel good and make his pitches …

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

He’s making Charlie Blackmon look good at the moment (3 HRs off Holland in BP yesterday).

I’ll be in Phoenix this weekend. March schedule is just too busy to go down during “prime time” Spring Training this season.

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

I’m actually envious of you, Carp. I never get to go to spring training until the tail end, when all the interesting players have been sent off to minor league camp and teams are just setting their rotations, etc. I hope you can give us a scouting report on Holland when you’re down there. I have a feeling he’ll be starting the year on the DL, then a rehab assignment, then maybe some semblance of his former self by June?

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago

I’ve never been able to go to Spring Training! I look forward to scouting reports and anecdotes from you who will. Also, I realized I haven’t seen Jairo Diaz on any of the projected rosters – is he not ready after surgery, or…..?

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

Jairo Diaz will most likely start the season on the 60 day DL.. His time frame should be similar to what Ottavino went through last year.

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago
Doc
Doc
3 years ago

Great article from ESPN –learned Gray is planning to cut his hair soon.

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/18758763/can-bud-black-break-curse-coors-field-colorado-rockies-pitchers

sdcatp
sdcatp
3 years ago

DEEP in the backfirlds with what is likely the Lancaster group. Brendan Rodgers is bad ass!

sdcarp
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcatp

Ha – now that I’m in the shade and can see what my fat fingers typed, make that “backfields” and “sdcarp.”

Full report, mostly spelled correctly, tonight.

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

Looks like Story is back in form. Rockies lead 6 – 3 in top of 4th with no outs. Story hits solo home run followed by walk to Parra and triple by Wolters.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

Spent the day at SRF. Eyewitness account and thoughts: Found my way over to the back, back fields early and watched a group that is likely (mostly) bound for high A, AA. Prime, Mundell, Rodgers, etc. Rodgers has the “it” factor. Dynamic, fast twitch athlete. Great hands. Fielded everything soft in front of him bare handed. Quick bat. Surprising power. Not physically imposing. He’s not going to be a big guy. Seemed very at ease. Personable. Already a leader at… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

I think I’ll head to Glendale today (instead of Surprise). Almonte is scheduled to pitch. No McMahon. Patterson played. The guy is huge. Looks to stiff.

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

Carp, I love it – RWO has its own scout in place at SRF! A couple questions: – Senzatela: obviously the big thing is he’s healthy, getting 2 inning right out of the box. Last year in spring training he showed a live arm/good fastball movement, but kind of average velocity (looks like that’s come up a bit) and absolutely no usable second pitch. I think he buried a couple sliders in the dirt just to show he had one.… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Senzatela – hit 95 several times, but didn’t show the ridiculous 95-82 differential speed that Lyles and Castro did. But he did look very easy throwing 95. Absolutely, positively no deception in Molls delivery. None. Vasto no much different. I’m telling you, Lyles and Castro were the stars yesterday. Castro has the highest ceiling of anyone in the Pen. But he’s raw. Still skinny as a rail. When he threw an 82 mph change after a low 96 mph fastball,… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

Not really RMH. Seemed like Parra. At one point, Parra was on first, and the pitcher threw over. Parra dove back in easily. He whipped his dirty hand on Goldy’s pants leg. I think it annoyed Goldy.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

Today’s Report from Glendale: Pat Valaika is an interesting guy. Drafted in 2013. Has come through the system playing some combination of SS and 2nd and recently 3rd. He’s played 3rd the last 2 days and looks very comfortable defensively. Valaika can pass as Story’s brother. He’s a little thicker than Story. Generates good power from the waist down (gluts/quads/hamstrings). Homered today. Has a nose for the game. Good instincts. In my opinion, he’s as viable as Amarista/Reynolds for a… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
3 years ago

Good!

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

Carp, keep ’em coming … First, I have to ask: you say it went Carle > Musgrave > Marquez. Why? Is it a question of how “polished” they are (in which case your rating wouldn’t be surprising), or was it a question of exactly how good (overrated?) Marquez’s stuff may be? Second, going back to the LOOGY derby: I tend to look at guys like Moll and Vasto differently than I’d look at a Marquez (guy who projects by most… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Ag – regarding the first question, my ranking is based on “stuff” and perceived velocity (no stadium radar gun). Carle looked the best of the three (but is probably the least polished). Musgrave’s velocity also looked really good – especially coming from the left side. Regarding Tapia – I think you’re on to something. I question if he’ll be able to take the next physical step, and I also perceive a little lack of maturity that may hold him back… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

Interesting. I’m looking forward to the World Baseball Classic (Quintana will be on Colombia’s team). It’s been a little uneven the last couple times after a widely ignored but really fantastic debut back in … 2005 I guess? Our old friend JDLR is on Mexico’s team again, and of course Arenado and McGee represent the USA. Rox (and everyone else) scouting Quintana … if they get him, all of a sudden this season turns from “we really shouldn’t be out… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

Today’s Report: Great access at SRF early this AM. Watched the pitching group do a general warm-up. Very loose, cohesive group. Motte/McGee/Estevez/and Castro looked as though they were especially having fun. Watched Senzatela throw a bullpen. He looked great, and seem enthused when complete. Caught the last few pitches of what was no doubt a short batting practice thrown by Jairo Diaz. He and Darren Holmes talked extensively afterwards. He came away looking very enthused and got some serious thumbs… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

For today’s essay question: is Jordan Patterson is not so good looking clone of Seth Smith, or is he Ben Paulsen’s brother from a different mother? Discuss. Lefty corner outfielders. Age 24 AAA seasons: Smith – 17 HRs, .909 OPs Patterson – 14 HRs, .856 OPS, and that was in a somewhat lower run scoring environment (2016 vs. 2007; Albuquerque vs. Colorado Springs) Patterson: pretty significant platoon splits, .734 vs lefties, .903 vs. righties Smith: minor league splits aren’t available… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Ag – there’s a mildly spirited debate going on over at PR regarding just “who” Jordan Patterson is, and will become. The name Ben Paulsen has come up, Seth Smith hasn’t. Someone is throwing around the “young” version of Charlie Blackmon. I don’t see it (with my eyes). I see maybe some sort of cross between Paulsen and Drew Stubbs (minus the speed, minus the RHed-ness). I’ve been trying to think of a non-Rockies comp and just can’t come up… Read more »

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

:-)_:-)

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

🙂 🙂

sdcarp
Admin
Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

Patterson – the reason I think he’s more likely Paulsen than Seth Smith is the strikeout rate. Seth managed to produce the same power in AAA striking out about 14% of the time as opposed to about 23% for Patterson. And from a scouting perspective, that had to do with Smith shorter/quicker swing. But I haven’t given up on Patterson by any means. A guy with a reasonable chance of being a solid platoon corner player is still a decent… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
3 years ago

We’re not even a week into Spring Training games, but it’s already apparent the level of pitching (and competition for spots) is at higher level than previous Springs. Attending practices in person – I was immediately impressed by the volume of pitchers that passed the look test. Granted….the look test is subjective and doesn’t mean squat when the guy toes the rubber. But I like the trend I’m seeing.

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago

Every year lately, as Opening Day prices rise, I sigh and say “This is the year that Opening Day Tradition dies.” Every year, I give in. After all, I’ve missed ONE Opening Day in 25 years, and it’s one of my very favorite things in life. And I’m still physically able to do it, which will not always be the case, and still semi-financially able (which will not always be the case after I retire in a year or two,… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  roxnsox

Good for you! That’s quite a record, 24 out of the last 25 years. I’ve NEVER been to an Opening Day. I’m a big sissy. I typically sit out the first month and allow it to warm up a bit.

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Yeah, I just can’t bring myself to break tradition. The joy and energy in and around the park are really something. And the weather has been fine probably 20 out of 24! We left early only twice that I recall, once from Mile High with snow flurries and wind 🙂

sdcarp
sdcarp
3 years ago

RMH – we expect good training reports from you Sir. Have fun in AZ.

Agbayani
Agbayani
3 years ago

Opening Day: trying something new this year. Club Level, down the line (cheaper/available). Went last year in the upper reserved RF area – near the party deck – and wound up inadvertently photo bombing about a dozen 20-somethings trying to take selfies at the party deck. I felt … old. And crushed. So maybe the controlled entry to Club Level is something I’ve aged into. And I’m perfectly fine with that. A couple drinks, maybe that big ass stuffed baked… Read more »

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Ag, I really like the Club Level seats. Sometimes sit up there in the summer – great view, no mobs for the food or restroom. And I’d NEVER go near the Party Deck – LOL. I do love the third-base line best. I’ll wave at you up there somewhere!

sdcarp
sdcarp
3 years ago

RMH – first Phoenix homework assignment. Get out to the practice fields and see if Desmond is shagging any fly balls in the OF. If Dahl’s back injury is serious enough to push into the regular season, we could see some LF Desmond and 1B Reynolds action.

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Oh no…. what happened to Dahl? Ugh.

Bob K.
Bob K.
3 years ago

Other than he was scratched from the line up due to back soreness, no one is saying what actually happened. At this time he is said to be out for one or two weeks.

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/03/03/david-dahl-back-injury-rockies/

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