REBUILD THE ROCKIES PART II – THE BALLPARK

In REBUILD THE ROCKIES, I outlined a methodology to rebuild the Rockies roster. The overarching objective is to make the team sustainably good. But one fire sale alone will not change the Rox culture of losing. The Rox need a holistic makeover. Time (and energy) allowing, I’ll propose several more fundamental changes that the Rockies need to consider in addition to the necessary massive roster makeover.

To date, the biggest hurdle to fielding a contending team in Denver has been starting pitching (or lack thereof). A couple of years ago I wrote a “Sound Off” article outlining the effects of altitude on the game of baseball (maybe Jaredean or another Site Administrator can locate and link that article?). But I frequently rail against using altitude as an excuse and advocate using it to our advantage. I also have to ask the question – is altitude the only reason our SP gets decimated year in and year out? Let’s look a little deeper.

First, let’s look at the Ballpark. Courtesy of The Bill James Handbook 2013:

Here are the most hitter-friendly ballparks since 2010: Park Runs Index

Rockies (Coors Field) 143

Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) 122

Red Sox (Fenway Park) 115

White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field) 113

Diamondbacks (Chase Field) 112

Yankees (Yankee Stadium) 110

Here are the parks that have allowed the most home runs since 2010: Park Home Runs Index Rockies

(Coors Field) 138

White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field) 138

Reds (Great American Ballpark) 134

Brewers (Miller Park) 129

Yankees (Yankee Stadium) 128

Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) 124

Here are parks that have allowed the fewest foul outs since 2010: Park Foul Outs Index Rockies

(Coors Field) 77

Red Sox (Fenway Park) 78

Angels (Angel Stadium of Anaheim) 79

Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) 83

Cubs (Wrigley Field) 83

Giants (AT&T Park) 86

Royals (Kauffman Stadium) 86

Hmmmmmmm………..Coors allows far and away the most runs scored. No surprise. Coors allows the most triples. No surprise. But when we look at HRs, U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago allows just as many. Great American Ballpark isn’t too far behind. But here’s the one that’s really hard to swallow – Coors Field allows fewer foul outs than any other park in baseball. 23% less than a neutral park. Now I realize its pure blasphemy to talk trash about Coors and a bolt of lightning may strike me down at any moment – but this is just plain dumb. Initial design mistakes are frequently made. Fences have been moved in at Citi Field and Marlins Park, and have been moved in more than once at Petco. But to my knowledge, foul territory has never been adjusted at Coors. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Eno Sarris gives foul ground a harder look in this article:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/foul-ground-home-field-advantage/

Turns out this foul out thing is not insignificant. For the 2012-2013 seasons, Oakland Stadium recorded 398 foul outs (the most). Coors (139) – the fewest. That’s a delta of a whopping 259 outs, or 130 outs per season!

In my opinion, the Rockies should give serious consideration to changing the playing field dimensions at Coors Field. This will sound crazy – but I propose moving the CF fence(s) in. That’s right, “in.” Smarter folks than I need to determine the sweet spot between the HR Index and Runs Index. But I’m guessing the HR increase caused by decreasing space in CF can be more than offset by the corresponding decrease in doubles and triples. Much more importantly, I’m proposing a foul territory increase. Enough to make Coors a foul neutral Park (23% more foul ball outs than now) at bare minimum. It would be nice if we could go even further, maybe to the 110 range.

Interestingly, decreasing the CF dimension while increasing foul territory can be accomplished (to some extent) concurrently simply by moving the field “out” a bit. It’s more complicated than this……but in the big scheme of things can be accomplished seamlessly.

The overall realistic goal should bringing the Runs Index down to the 125-130 range.

Dickie will have to sell a few more beers on the Party Deck to offset the foul territory seat loss, but he’ll get over it.

This may not seem like a big thing, but the Rox have to change the pitching paradigm at Coors if the goal is to field a sustainable contender. There will be no single, magic bullet cure. It will be an accumulation of little things. Adjusting the playing dimensions is one step.

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IggyRox
IggyRox
5 years ago

Good article, sdc! Just some dreary Saturday daydreaming from me… In response to one of your statements, I do believe that foul territory has been adjusted once before… in order to put a few more rows of Lexus seats behind home plate and between the dugouts, which also decreased foul territory. Everyone raves at how wonderful it is to be so close to the action, but an extra 5 feet away for everyone isn’t a big deal, and it could… Read more »

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  IggyRox

Interesting stats.I too have long thought higher fences made sense.I also think rounding out center by eliminating the “stupid” left center notch cuts down the vast outfield area.If icons such as Wrigley and Fenway can make small to large changes,then 20 year old Coors should consider it too.

Doc
Doc
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

I believe Iggy is right — http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2013/02/11/Facilities/Rockies.aspx Elsewhere in the park, the 168-seat Coors Clubhouse, the Rockies’ version of the diamond clubs at other MLB facilities, will have new seats 23 to 24 inches wide, about 5 inches wider than the original chairs installed 10 years ago when the club was built. For better flow and to avoid having club-seat holders walk in front of others in the section, the Rockies relocated aisles to behind the seats and reduced the… Read more »

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

It was my impression that one of the reasons for moving the fence closer to home plate was because Rosario couldn’t block the pitches from going through and he actually got outs and held runners at third because of the balls ricochetting back to home plate with the closer wall.

Bob K.
Bob K.
5 years ago

Jorge Rondon claimed off of waivers by the Orioles.

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/05/orioles-claim-jorge-rondon.html

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

I fully Rondon to now be good. It will be par for the course with the other pitchers who play better when they are on other teams.

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

Gray goes six today for the Isotopes and gives up just 3 runs. Not bad.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

In a shocking development, Tulo strikes out with the bases loaded and an opportunity to blow the game wide open.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

And in an earlier shocking development, Walt Weiss sticks with a pitcher who’d walked 6 out of the last 7 hitters with the Dodgers best hitter coming up, and that hitter delivers a bases-clearing double. Given that the club had played about 5 innings in the last 5 days (and has a day off tomorrow), you’d think that maybe that overworked bullpen will now be clamoring for an inning of garbage time to stay sharp …

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Looks like Tulo has tuned out for the season huh?

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

And (probably not) finally, in a subsequent shocking development, Walt brings in the 8th man in an 8 man bullpen, Scott Oberg, in a tie game in the 7th inning, again in spite of the fact that the bullpen is actually UNDER worked of late with all the rainouts.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Perfect example when you’re losing and gone fishing now. (Hundley running while pitcher still holding ball). That reeks.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Now it’s getting really bad, Oberg left in to toss 8th inning?????????????? Dodgers win cuz of bad bullpen management especially WW.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Betancourt was up and warming up before the inning… DOH DUH bring out the Weiss boobirds

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

More Weiss mismanagement… You’re down 4 runs, u should PH for Stubbs… Anybody that can put ball in play and hope for BABIP help… Ks don’t get any BABIP help. Time to fire WW.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

You have CLAYTON KERSHAW on the ropes, up 3 runs, your putative “ace” on the mound working in tandem with the Pitcher Whisperer … and then you hand the Dodgers 3 walks, leave in DLR to groove one to Adrian Gonzalez, and you squander the lead. Then, having lost 8 in a row, coming off a day off and looking forward to another day off, with a fully fresh bullpen, you proceed to have Scott “Gopher Ball” Oberg come out… Read more »

Cisco Kid
Cisco Kid
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Ag, You beat me to the punch with your comment on WWs handling of the BP. It’s one thing to have a bad team, but when you couple it with a manager that’s in over his head, what you get is a losing streak of historical proportion. I would not be surprised to see this team return from this road trip in the midst of a 15 game losing streak. Why would WW not bring in Raffy to start the… Read more »

IggyRox
IggyRox
5 years ago

I don’t recall the Bears and Zephyrs being this consistently bad… quite the contrary, they were often quite good. I don’t recall all the excuses about the altitude affecting pitching, even while they played in the biggest bandbox of all time (Mile High). I don’t recall the whining about recovery time. All I recall is consistently decent baseball in Denver. What’s the difference? I’ll give you a clue… it’s all about a couple of guys who were born on 3rd… Read more »

RocketMan
RocketMan
5 years ago
Reply to  IggyRox

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Tulo Bobblehead giveaway is June 7. He won’t be moved until after then….

IggyRox
IggyRox
5 years ago
Reply to  RocketMan

If they wait until June 7, he might already be on the shelf for the season. Move him now, or eventually get a bag of peanuts for him.

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  RocketMan

Maybe they’ll spell his name wrong-this time on purpose-and call it off and trade him.

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Hire the brothers as a package.Manager + Pitching coach.

RocketMan
RocketMan
5 years ago

Every weakness was on display today, pitchers who can’t throw strikes (and curiously, a catcher who never called for time and a talk), a 3-pitch strikeout of the team’s “best” player in a critical AB, 5 tool players who sit on the bench when the other team’s ace takes the mound, blundering moves with game management. I don’t know who could fix the mess, and there’d likely be no helpful takers anyway. The losing mentality is so deeply ingrained into… Read more »

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Helton to take Kelli’s vacant position is not the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

Cisco, here’s how much our “overworked pen” has actually worked in the last 7 days: Betancourt: one inning (Wednesday) Axford: 0 innings (faced 3 batters on Wednesday, all reached) Brown: 1.1 innings (Sunday .. a full week ago) None of these 3 were used today. Instead we saw Oberg, who to be honest was not even in our top 10 relievers in spring training. Oh, and then the completely forgettable Ken Roberts to finish even though a guy like Axford… Read more »

Pooter
Pooter
5 years ago

Fire Walt! Hire Giambi to coach team for remainder of season.

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  Pooter

Why not rehire J.Tracy now that his overseer is gone.Stop cussing me–it’s a joke!

sabrchip
sabrchip
5 years ago

Sure am glad I only spent a couple hours total watching the “Bruises” (isn’t black, blue and purple the color) this past week. Watching KC these past several days shows what a farm system can produce. They are so deep that letting go of Butler was not only the wise move, it was economically sound. Kendry Morales FA signing was a stroke of genius by a GM whose been around the block. Granted, they had to wade through some bad… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  sabrchip

KC and Tampa Bay are examples of (re)build processes that took awhile. The Cubs and Astros seem to have streamlined the process, although I think the Astros still have a ways to go……….that just happened to get off to a hot start. I think currently in the phase that I projected for us in 2018 (significant glimmers of hope).

But you point is good……….a team built on fundamentally sound principles has depth at every position within the organization.

roxnsox
roxnsox
5 years ago
Reply to  sabrchip

I told my KC-native friend at work today that I’m in on the Royals. (Like I was last fall – long-suffering pennant winner, fun team to watch, etc.). I’m a front-runner! I’m on a bandwagon! No. I really do like the Royals. And it’s fun to talk with my friend about them 🙂 And to have somewhere to hang my baseball “hat” since the Rox AND the Red Sox are, ummm, terrible? Ag, and others: Shocking development. I’ve detached emotionally… Read more »

roxnsox
roxnsox
5 years ago
Reply to  sabrchip

And sabrchip! The Bruises! Fantastic, spot-on 🙂

Bill
Bill
5 years ago

Throw strikes. Michael Pineda of the Yankees 54 strikeouts – 3 walks. Bartolo Colon (who is older than dirt) 40 strikeouts – 1 walk. Combined record 11 wins, 1 loss. None of the starters have even 2 to 1 ratio. New pitching coach, new catcher. Same results. Not enough rain last week.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Bill, on “throw strikes” – espn regularly updates their (Billy) Beane Count, ranking teams very simply by 4 factors: Batting: HRs, BBs Pitching: HRs allowed, BBs allowed. And the Beane Count almost always corresponds closely with the actual standings. So far this year in the NL, the Rockies are 3rd from the bottom (Brewers, Phillies trailing). No surprise that we’re also 13th out of 15th on BBs allowed. But here’s what surprised me: on the hitting side, we’re dead last… Read more »

Bill
Bill
5 years ago

I barely watched or listened this past weekend although I drove by Coors twice a day from Wednesday through Saturday and it was pouring every day so I can’t comment on the details of every game, thus my general comment above. “Throw Strikes”. Making the outfield smaller, making the fences higher while at first hearing seems counter-intuitive but it would cut down on the singles, double or triples during the game. It seems every highlight (really lowlight) I see Charlie… Read more »

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

I’m not arguing with your last sentence, I’m having a hard time figuring out how a player demanding a trade would cause his value to plummet. You make the trade based on his value regardless whether one demands a trade or not, no?

roxnsox
roxnsox
5 years ago

Me too. Does his value plummet because he’s seen as a bad guy? So long, Tulo, I don’t blame you a bit and I hope you get somewhere fun and successful. PS. The Yankees having no interest is really swell in my book 😉

roxnsox
roxnsox
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

True. (Argh.) Just hope Bridich holds his ground and doesn’t get a bag of balls. And IF we get some rakers from the Yanks, then maybe Tulo will not excel in the Bronx. For me. (Argh.)

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

I disagree about trade value. Tulo is under contract for this year, for next year, for the year after that, for the year after that, for the year after that, and finally, for the year after that. Which is 2020. Oh, and the Rockies have an option on him for 2021. So it’s not like you’ll lose him for nothing in free agency if you don’t trade him this summer. Yes, clubs will understand that his now-$20 million per year… Read more »

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Saw a tweet earlier today that tulo has only 2% walk rate, lowest by far of his career. Walking is not just a pitching problem, but an offensive, no pun intended, problem as well. Let hear from the sabermetrics expert that Rox rank at or near the top of the majors for highest percentage of swings at balls out of the zone.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

Trade Tulo now! Here’s why: I know some of us have commented on how he doesn’t seem to be the dominant defensive presence he used to be – not even what he was pre injury last year. I checked some of the advanced (UZR) stats and they confirm what my eyes tell me. So far this year, in 208 innings at SS, he rates as 1.3 runs below average. No big deal yet, although prorated over 150 games that’s about… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
5 years ago

Dave Cameron sorts through the logical suitors for Tulo:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/lets-think-about-a-troy-tulowitzki-trade/

Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox top his list. I see the Yankees ultimately being a big player in this.

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