We have flipped the calendar to February. It means the start of arbitration period (Baby Bull is lone remaining unsigned) and spring training. February 2nd is Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil has seen the PAT (Planet Alignment Theory) shadow. There has been no major additions or subtractions with three weeks remaining before the pitchers and catchers report to Salt Rivers Field at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The latest transaction was made earlier this week when the Rockies gave up two minor league catchers (Chris O’Dowd & Jose Briceno) for David Hale and Gus Schlosser in a trade made with the Atlanta Braves. They also brought back Rafael Betancourt and Omar Quintilla on minor league deals with invitation to spring training. Shortly after Jeff Bridich was promoted to general manager, he made it clear that upgrading the rotation and bullpen were his top priorities. He still hasn’t made a deal for a starting pitcher. It was rumored that the Rockies may have been the mystery team that offered James Shields a six-year, $110M deal. Shields is still evaluating where he will go next. Dillon Gee of the NYM was often rumored to be dangled in front of the Rockies for a trade.
Bridich also paired up with Walt Weiss on making the short term and long term templates for the Rockies. It looks like they have developed the PAT template for the short term (2015) while setting up the team for a major makeover in 2016. Assuming no additions to the pitching staff, Jorge De La Rosa, Tyler Matzek, and Jordan Lyles look like locks to be in the rotation to start the season. Personally, I have written off Jhoulys Chacin as done for his career due to his balky shoulder. But the apparent good news came from Patrick Saunders’ report in the Sunday Denver Post. It would be a major boost to the rotation if Chacin is completely healthy. If Chacin is in the rotation, that leaves the competition for the fifth rotation spot wide open with Chad Bettis, Hale, Christian Bergman, and Eddie Butler as the main candidates barring any additions made in the next month.
The bullpen is mostly unchanged with the return of LaTroy Hawkins, Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, Tommy Kahnle, and Boone Logan who was heard to be 100% healthy for the upcoming season. Brooks Brown, Christian Friedrich, Jairo Diaz, Yohan Flande, Jorge Rondon, and Chris Rusin will compete for the final two spots.
Using the PAT template, the Rockies decided not to trade the superstars (Tulo & CarGo) for 60 cents on the dollar. Instead they want to see them rebuild their value by staying healthy on the field the entire season or at least through trade deadline so they can rebuild the team for 2016 and beyond. Certainly the Rockies hope CarGo and/or Tulo will be able to return at least a dollar on the dollar. CarGo is more likely to be moved as David Dahl (Rockies’ #2 prospect behind Jon Gray in most publications) moves up the ladder and could be on the 2016 squad. Corey Dickerson has already established that he is here to stay. Tulo could be moved later if Trevor Story or another prospect isn’t ready by 2016. Further down the road, Nolan Arenado could bring in a major haul in which the Rockies would get rid of Scott Bor-ass representing Arenado while promoting Ryan McMahon if he keeps up his development. McMahon, who plays 3B, has light tower power. Stubbs and/or Blackmon could be moved as well when Raimel Tapia is ready. Don’t forget that Forrest Wall will make D.J. LeMahieu expendable in about 2017.
If everything goes as planned, we could see a rotation of Jon Gray, Eddie Butler, Kyle Freeland, Tyler Matzek, and Tyler Anderson in the 2016-2018 window of time.
In summary, Punxsutawney Phil says PAT performance in 2015 with the new look Rockies in 2016 and beyond. I’m looking forward to Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow in 2016 and 2017.