Spring Training Mumble Jumble

A major issue (back end of rotation) was addressed during the off-season.  I went back to a post game report and was shocked to see how bad the #4 and #5 spots were as stated in the last paragraph of a post-game write-up between the Rockies and the Giants.  “…the final two rotation spots will be decided between Jon Garland, Juan Nicasio, Drew Pomeranz, Jeff Francis, and Roy Oswalt. Garland and Francis were originally planned to hold down the rotation spots until next year…”  And a couple of years ago we had a 50-year old as the “ace” of the staff to go along with fly ball pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.  Sheeeeeesh!!  Now we have Brett Anderson very likely to have locked up a spot in the top four of the rotation.  The fifth starter will go to the winner of the Juan Nicasio, Christian Friedrich, “Kerosene” Morales, Jordan Lyles derby.  The Rockies also have Jon “Gray Wolf” Gray and Eddie Butler pounding on the door if all of the #5 candidates stumble.  If the top four pitchers (JDLR, Chacin, Chatwood, Anderson) can pick up 10 -15 victories each and the #5 workhorse delivers 7-10 wins, then the Rox already is a better team than a 74-win squad.

The bullpen as usual will start off well in April and May.  The big question is will they start to crumble as the season drags on due to overusage?  I’m betting that it will not be as bad as it was last year.  Fresh arms were added in Boone Logan and LaTroy Hawkins.  And the rotation if healthy most of the year should be able to give the Rox six or seven innings on around 100 pitches.  It looks like Rex Brothers, Hawkins, Matt Belisle, Logan, Wilton Lopez, and Adam “Zero” Ottavino are likely to lock down six seats in the bullpen.  Kerosene, like his nickname, may cause problems if the Rox management want to hang on to him instead of letting him walk.  The other candidates are Thomas Kahnle (Rule 5), Rob Scahill, Chad Bettis, Nick Massett (NRI), and Manny Corpas (NRI).  If any of the candidates for the 7th seat forces the issue, the Rox have the luxury of sending someone down that still has at least one option. “Locks” with at least one option remaining are Lopez and Zero.  A related question is:  Are the Rox going to carry seven or eight guys in the bullpen?  There are no days off in the first ten games of the season.

In one RWO thread, sdcarp brought up a trivia question to illustrate a fact.  He stated, “….the 2nd highest Major League Park is just above 1000 ft. In the PCL, CS is above 6000….” and we ask ourselves is it better developing pitchers at Colorado Springs or are the Rox better off bringing pitching help straight from Tulsa?  I read somewhere that Clayton Kershaw and a couple of other stud pitchers career ERAs at Coors are over 4.50 or around that number.  Compare it to Chacin who has a career ERA at Coors Field of 4.18 and 2.86 away from Coors.  That essentially proves that you only need a slow heartbeat, low walk ratio per game, and be a ground ball specialist to be able to compete at altitude and sea level.  Pitchers cannot develop pitching at Springs and expect to do well away from Coors.  Conclusion in my humble opinion is Tulsa should be the final stop for pitchers so they can pitch on the road while naturally will see their ERAs go up in tandem with the visiting pitchers (i.e. Kershaw) when pitching in Coors Field.

2 – Catcher – Wilin “Baby Bull” Rosario is the regular catcher;  Jordan Pacheco was labeled as back up catcher going into spring and he has no options remaining; Mike McKenry (NRI) might be a better game caller than Pacheco;  Tom Murphy (NRI) is the next up catcher in the pipeline.  Matt McBride is a long shot.

3 – 1B – Justin Morneau is the regular;  Walt Weiss has already said he has no intention of platooning him; will the back up first baseman be mostly Baby Bull in order to keep his bat in the lineup or will Michael “Money” Cuddyer do most of the back up work?  Or will Ryan Wheeler squeeze in as a 25th man?  McBride is a very long shot.

4 – 2B – DJ LeMahieu (great glove at 3 infield positions and light bat) or Josh Rutledge (poor glove, high ceiling bat)?  In this RWO thread, I briefly talked about Rutledge, “….Rutledge has a good chance to have a break through year playing second base. The Purple Row article can be found on Monday’s (12/23/2013) Rockpile. The seven bullet points from this article: 1) Rutledge has hit at every minor league level. 2) Josh is a spray hitter. 3) His luck is bound to improve based on advanced metrics. 4) He fought back late in the year. 5) Going into 2013, he was bound to run into a road block at some point. 6) Rutledge showed he’s willing to adjust. 7) He’s already an excellent base runner….”  The other candidates are Charlie Culberson (1 option remaining) and Paul Janish (minor league contract with NRI).

5 – 3B – Nolan “NoDo” Arenado is regular; good article on MLB.com about him working on cutting down swings out of the strike zone and having more discipline at the plate;  NoDo wants to do better at the plate while maintaining his gold glove standard.  Almost no competition at 3B if LeMahieu is unofficially the backup.  Wheeler if he makes it as 25th man could add depth at 3B.

6 – SS – Tulo is regular; Again LeMahieu could back him;  Rutledge played extensive SS during his minor league career; Janish is an extreme longshot and likely to be stashed in Springs in case of yet another injury to Tulo.

7,8,9 – OF – Money and CarGo are everyday outfielders.  That leaves Charley Blackmon, Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs, and Brandon Barnes as the main competitors for the third OF job and presumably two bench spots.  Barnes has 3 options remaining, Blackmon 1 option, Dickerson and Stubbs with 3 options each.  The Rox can safely shuffle the OF deck without losing anyone to the waivers.  There is a good chance that the third outfielder will also bat lead off.  Blackmon had a good split vs. righties and lefties.  Tulo thinks Stubbs can be the regular CF.  Or might it be a 3-way platoon?

Projected batting order:  CF (Blackmon/Stubbs) or LF (Dickerson), Money RF, CarGo LF, Tulo SS, Morneau 1B, Baby Bull C, NoDo 3B, Rutledge or LeMahieu 2B, Pitcher.  This is probably the basic lineup going into spring training.  The RWOers will find out during spring training if there will be any so-called major changes from this basic lineup.

Roster – Will the Rox carry 7 or 8 bullpen pitchers?  If seven, Wheeler chances increases greatly as a second infielder off the bench.  If eight, then Rutledge or LeMahieu are probably safely ahead of Janish for the lone infield bench player.

RWO – Who will replace gold glove nominee Eric Young, Jr as pooter’s favorite player?  Which player will be the next victim of egossage’s barbs?  What will be EdtheUmp opinions of the new review rules?  Question for him – are the managers allowed to go out on the field and “argue” with the umps for as long as it takes for the clubhouse replay assistant to decide whether to call for a replay?  (In the NFL, you have to decide quickly before the offense’s next snap.)  Or does the pitcher just throw the ball immediately to the catcher even if the batter is not ready?

Salt River Fields – Who’s going to be there?  EdtheUmp the whole month of March, rmh(me) March 9-16, TJinPhoenix first week of practice, robba?, anybody else?

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jaredean
Admin
jaredean
6 years ago

Sorry about the glitch last night…i tried to update our discussion system to a new one and it didn’t work out so well…if you typed something this morning it will need to be retyped, but everything before i started the change (2:00 AM) should still be there…

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
6 years ago

Excellent write-up RMH…”Kerosene” Morales – LOVE IT… I love looking back at previous posts and comments to see how far we’ve come (or haven’t come in many cases) and your focus on the 4th and 5th spots is very interesting. I remember the way Francis pitched at the end of 2012 I was very optimistic on his ability, being one of the very few that seemed to flourish under the 75 pitch count fiasco. Then having the circus around Moyer… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago

If I’m managing the Rox – I leave Cargo in left, and platoon center with some combination of Stubbs/Barnes/Dickerson/Blackmon. Center is too much stress on Cargo’s body.

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

According to Weiss in an interview on MLB Network, Cargo will be staying in left field and a platoon of most likely Stubbs, Blackmon and Dickerson will handle center field.

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago

Nicely done RMH.

Interesting tease……ESPN “Rumor Central” is reporting Ervin Santana is down to 3 teams…..and one is an “unnamed NL West” team. His name was very loosely associated with the Rox a couple of times this offseason. You guys may know some my previous comments…..I don’t really get caught up in the $$$$ in contracts. BUT…..Santana requires draft pick compensation and the Rox have a high pick in upcoming draft. So I say “no, no, no please no.”

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago

Excellent early spring write-up, RMH. I hope to be down there for a long weekend some time in March – I’m just watching my work schedule and air fares to try to get a good 3 days in. On Morales: I liked the move on the “what have we got to lose” theory, but I’ll admit it’s a weird one. He’s out of options, and they just signed him to an arbitration avoidance salary of $1.875 million, so yeah, he’s… Read more »

Roxnsox
Roxnsox
6 years ago

Good stuff, guys. I am really pulling for a fully healthy Friedrich to pop some eyes and sneak in to take #5. And Frankie “K” Morales in a no-stress role in the 7th as Ag says would be best for MY stress level… unless he changes his middle name from Kerosene back to the traditional meaning of K in baseball. Ha!

GARY
GARY
6 years ago

Or he could graduate from kerosene to napalm!

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago

Chacin injury is very concerning.

roxnsox
roxnsox
6 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Yep. Let’s just say “it’s early…” 🙁

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
6 years ago

Nobody can accuse the Rockies pitching staff of being durable.

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago

Chacin getting an MRI is concerning. Must be more than just early first spring training workout soreness. Meanwhile, in the category of “I told you so.” Or call it the opening rant of 2014: 1. I said Stubbs was a decent pickup by O’Dowd if Weiss has the discipline to use him properly. That means almost exclusively as the right half of a platoon given his truly abysmal performance against righties. But our real manager, Mr. Tulowitzki, thinks Drew worked… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Meanwhile, for the anti-Rockies (weirdly managed by the former Rockie) and how they play smarter: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140221&content_id=68065894&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

GARY
GARY
6 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Ag,take a couple of shots or some ganja but chill or you will never make it through the season my friend.Have fun in the land of the sun.

Doc
Doc
6 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Mid-season form, Ag. It will be interesting to follow the Rox this year without the aid of my purple-tinted sunglasses, not to mention my newly acquired allergy to that purple Kool-Aid brew concocted by the SMIB. Interesting article on Hurdle and the Buc’s defense. Thanks for the link

DRH
DRH
6 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Very interesting article on the Pirates. thanks for the link. And I generally agree with Ag’s analysis. Curmudgeon or just insightful? I’d vote for the latter.

EdtheUmp
EdtheUmp
6 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

As a man of MANY words, I am going to switch horses, etc..

Ag … SIMPLY BRILLIANT…RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!

TJinPhoenix
TJinPhoenix
6 years ago

I think AG was lifting with Tulo in Vegas as well—hence his mid-season form…there is no such thing as an off season!

Great stuff!

RMH and Ed–I’m thinking I can take off the 10th and make the game against the Padres-Ed, do you have a single ticket I can buy off you? Work gets crazy from the 14th-26th so this will be my best shot at ditching work.

TJ

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago
Reply to  TJinPhoenix

So you’re saying Benny has ‘roid rage?

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
6 years ago
Reply to  TJinPhoenix

Love the new Avatar pic TJ!

Cisco Kid
Cisco Kid
6 years ago

Regarding Chacin’s injury, it looks like the 100-pitch limit for starters to help prevent injuries is working to perfection.

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago

I’m not really getting the Stubbs/Blackmon/Dickerson/Barnes conundrum. Some combination of these 4 will man an OF position. Stubbs is better than average defensively, has great wheels. The other three aren’t bad (in the field). Their bat(s) are going to be in the lineup regardless of whether they’re in LF or CF. Cargo on the otherhand………..is absolutely vital to the Rox success (or lack thereof). So Cargo staying in left becomes a no-brainer. Coach Tulo just needs to work on positioning… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago

sdcarp, here’s the thing. I looked up putouts/chances for our outfielders last year. The centerfielder (mostly Fowler) fielded about 100 more balls than the leftfielder (mostly Cargo). That’s huge. And little things like a centerfielder who makes the putout on a fly/line drive 2 more time out of 10 translates into 20 hits a year, some of which will be extra base hits. Let’s call it 12 singles, 7 doubles, 1 triple. About 30 extra bases over the course of… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

I hear what you’re saying, but process the facts a little differently. Taking into account the Cargo Fragility Factor (Fangraphs needs to add CFF), 100 more chances in the biggest CF in baseball (OK – half the games in the biggest CF) screams pulled hamstrings to me. 100 more chances to dive, and 100 more chances to hit the wall. I’m not a huge fan of defensive metrics for platoon players, so I don’t have a stat I like that… Read more »

Colorado Thistle
Colorado Thistle
6 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

It’s just too bad we don’t have another option at center, like a fast, above average defender and hitter. Someone like they have over in Houston, Dexter Fowler. That would really help the team.

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Fair enough, carp. But just to show you that the Rockies do things in a “special” way: “Joe Girardi announced that Jacoby Ellsbury will lead off and play centerfield.” This despite the re-signing of Brett Gardner, an equally excellent centerfielder. And despite the fact that Ellsbury has missed way more games than Cargo since 2009. (Ask any Red Sox fan to name their most injury prone player). And despite the fact that Ellsbury is owed 153 million bucks over 7… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Oh man……in my world, this is a below the belt blow because I have the utmost respect for Girardi and the Yankees. That guy pulled of a minor miracle last year nearly getting that team into the playoffs out of the AL East with and inferior (and injured) lineup.

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago

Because I just can’t let it go (and obviously didn’t take the ganja advice), here’s a quick back of the envelope calculation on replacing Helton and Fowler. This gets pretty dense so just skip to the bottom line if you prefer! 1. Original plan (as I misunderstood it) was that Morneau would play 1B against righties, Cuddyer would play 1B against lefties with Stubbs playing RF. Guess what? I liked it! Rockies first basemen last year (Helton-Pacheco-Cuddyer) in the aggregate… Read more »

Bob K.
Bob K.
6 years ago

RMH, “Had Fowler stayed, he probably would have walked after the year is over.” Your theory that Fowler would have walked after the season is wrong. Fowler and Chacin both signed 2 year extensions with 2014 being the second and final year of those extensions. Neither player can go free agent after the 2014 season because both players are still arbitration eligible for the 2015 season. Yes there is a scenario where either player could become a free agent after… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago

Bob K, absolutely right. Fowler was under team control through 2015 (as is Chacin). RMH, I think all the moves are a net benefit, just not as much as they could have been. Correct that they freed money to sign Logan and trade for Anderson. Logan, however, is a pointless acquisition. I would think that a 74 win team has more use for an everyday league average (or better) position player in Fowler than a 40 inning situation lefty. Logan’s… Read more »

Pooter
Pooter
6 years ago

ESPN is jumping on the Tulo to the Yankees band wagon. There is a worthless article on that site this morning.

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago
Reply to  Pooter

Yanks farm system is weak (especially by their standards) at the moment – so I don’t give this much credence.

But…..if/when we get to June and are headed nowhere fast, Tulo (and Cargo) should be shopped aggressively.

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago

RMH, I’m the opposite: feeling pretty good about the pitching and infield defense, worried about the hitting and outfield defense. The PECOTA thing must not be park-adjusted. There’s just no way any system could have the Rockies as the best offense. Last year, by pretty much any park-adjusted measure, the Rockies had no better than the 10th or 11th best offense in the NL. In fact, the only clearly worse offense was the Marlins (the Phillies, Mets, and Cubs were… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

This isn’t relevant to the Rockies…..but as long time fantasy player in hardcore, deep league, I found PECOTA to be my least favorite “legitimate” projection algorithm. Much prefer ZiPS, Steamer, etc.

robba
robba
6 years ago

Will be at ST from 5 Mar until 22 Mar. Seats in “Ed’s Box” (Sect. 109), but a few rows behind his seats. (Usually Rows 7 ,8, or 9.) I’ll usually be wearing an Aussie Drover’s Hat to keep the sun off my skin-cancer-prone face. Looking forward to seeing Ed and RMH again, and to meeting other RWO folks.

Agbayani
Agbayani
6 years ago

Thanks RMH – Murphy is getting very interesting. He leap-frogged the competition at catcher last year. Still high strikeout numbers, but I’m glad to hear that he’s seemingly got it all together on the behind the plate side of the equation. Maybe a Chris Iannetta type without quite as good an eye? Iannetta at Asheville (age 21): 950 OPS, BB about 16% of plate appearances, K about 20% Murphy at Asheville (22): 975 OPS, BB rate 11%, K rate 25%… Read more »

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
6 years ago

It seems a bit unfair to have to start the season away and against Jose Fernandez…that guys scares the crap out of me cause he’s so good…and he is so fun to watch. Love the fire and energy… JDlR opening day – wish we’d reverse our starters going 5 – 1 so we have JDlR start at Coors on the home opener. As it stands now our 5th starter will open at Coors… Is is just me or are you… Read more »

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
6 years ago

What in the world is Janish even getting a shot for? There are so many other players that are out there, in the minors, etc. that are better suited for a shot at the bigs…

Bob K.
Bob K.
6 years ago
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