While we wait for the Rockies to make additional moves and the cold stove is cool, I figure I better show the upper management of the Rockies how to win at altitude. Here is my brief summary:
- All outfielders must have a lot of range and run the most efficient routes running down balls in order to make the vast Coors outfield smaller. They also play shallow to take away bloops. If a ball is driven a long ways over their heads, so be it. The objective is to make the opponents beat us with good hits, not lucky bloops. And bloops are a much more frequent than hard hit balls.
- Defense up the middle must be of high quality. It starts with the battery – quick deliveries to plate by pitchers and cannon arm by catcher. Take away stolen bases and make opponents work for two hits to bring man home rather than just one when a runner moves up via stolen base. Then the double play combo must be sterling at their positions to help pitchers shorten the innings (and pitch count) with double play balls. Center fielders must have a great arm to prevent station to station running.
- Flame throwers in the bullpen with very low BB/9 rate. We need fireballers who can miss bats, thereby taking away lucky mishit balls that fall in no man’s land. At least two swing arms in the pen who can spot start and/or pitch up to three innings to link to the back end of the pen.
- Rotation pitchers must have low BB/9 rate, preferably below 2.5/9. They should be durable with easy throwing arm motions. Keep balls inside the park, thereby forcing opponents to beat us with multiple hits instead of one swing. Have at least eight MLB ready SPs in the rotation (five in MLB and three in AAA).
- The hitters on offense should have high BB/9 rate and very low K rate (PUT THE BALLS IN PLAY!). Zero chance to move up runners with Ks. At least three of eight position players have high walk rate. The lineup should have at least two regulars who can steal 20-30 bases on the season. If the Rox have those ingredients, that should greatly reduce the home/road splits.
Now for the fun part of my PAT exercise; it is just a dream scenario but I’m always eternally optimistic about the future. I’m not trying to twist the scenarios to fit the PAT theory.
Now my dreamy Rockies team will follow the five rules to winning baseball at altitude in the short/medium/far future.
- Corey Dickerson must move to first base. Can’t have his noodle arm and so-so range in Coors outfield. But his offense is so good that you have to find a place for him on the field. Playing first base still avoids messing up the up-the-middle defense. Raimel Tapia fits the Rockies to a tee. Low K rate and plays a good OF position and finds a way to get on base. CarGo (if he remains with the Rockies) is perfect for RF. Chuck_Nazty can play all three outfield positions which give the Rockies versatility. David Dahl will be ready to play CF in the very near future.
- Coming up the pipeline is Dom Nunez (with due respect to Murphy) with his rifle arm. He is needed to control the base paths. DJLM is just perfect for the Rockies at 2B until Forrest Wall comes along. Hopefully Trevor Story/Brendan Rodgers will be the future stars anchored at SS. Arenado must be signed to long term, but not as long as Tulo but more like CarGo’s length.
- Jeff Bridich has been collecting flame throwers while getting rid of relief pitchers that walk too many batters. Jairo Diaz, Ottavino, Miguel Castro (if pen instead of SP), Justin Miller, Scott Oberg, Jason Motte, and Chad Qualls are MLB ready. More than enough for the Rockies. We will soon find out of Carlos Estevo is up to the task at the back end of the pen. Plus Sam Moll is rising rapidly since switch to bullpen. Christian Bergman, David Hale, and Yohan Flande are good candidates for long relief roles at least until the Rockies enter the window of contention.
- Rotation pitchers: We now have a lot of depth there even before any free agent signings. Gray, Bettis, JDLR, Lyles, Matzek, Tyler Anderson, Chatwood, Rusin, Butler, Senzatela, Hoffman, Freeland and a boatload of 2015 draft picks. Keep adding SPs until we see the best five. And the next best three for AAA as backups to MLB rotation. No more calling Mark Redmond from his job as a stockboy at a local store.
- At least for this year, Mark Reynolds will show how to be selective on the pitches as he has a high walk rate. (Bad news is he strikes out a ton.) Raimel Tapia is known as a contact hitter and he may be similar to Willy Taveras. The Rockies have always had good hitters. Let them sort them out and select hitters with high walk rate, good OBP, and capable of stealing at least 20 bases. We also need consistency throughout the lineup so there’s no automatic outs smack in the middle of the lineup. David Dahl will be a boost playing CF and stealing bases. There is still a very slight chance that Justin Morneau will be back for one more year as he has very good home/road splits.