Well…we are finally there. The last series. The last weekend. While teams in Pittsburg, Chicago, St. Louis as well as those hideous metropolitous like LA and NY get ready to play into the cold of October, the Rox players will be shining up their golf clubs and enjoying the warmth of Arizona, Nevada and California for the next 4 months. Thankfully baseball has a very short off-season. By the time the World Series ends around Halloween its less than 3.5 months till pitchers and catcehrs reports (four of the best words in the English language, “Pitchers and Catchers report”…say it again….). For most of us our confidence in 2016 is already gone. I mean….poof! But I would just encourage fans to wait to sour on the Rox in 2016. Do I think we will be looking forward to long October baseball in Colorado this time a year from now? Right now…no. But I can tell you that no one in Houston or Minnesotta thought that this time last year. They Mets were so poorly run that they signed Michael Cuddyer to a free-agent deal (really…does anyone yet understand that one?). And of course the Rangers were dead in Spring Training. Before you think it can’t happen to us, look at the starting rotation of the Twins. Or even the Royals…not as bad as what showed up in Colorado back in early April but…not groups the Rox couldn’t match by this time next year (a lot depends on the growth of players like Jon Gray and Jeff Hoffman, as well as whether Eddie Butler can figure it out (in 2012 there was this former well thought of prospect who had 18 starts and 24 overall appearences for the Baltimore Oirlies and finished with 6.20 ERA and people gave up on him, including the franchise…he likely will finish in the top 3 for the CY Young and lead the Cubs to the Play-in-Game…so, it can happen). Can Tyler Matzek get it back (he was a very good pitcher in 2014 and while his motion has a lot of moving parts, there is no saying it can’t get back into a groove). Can guys like Jordan Lyles, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Freeland, and Tyler Anderson get healthy and stay healthy (I wouldn’t be surprised to see all 4 in the rotation by All-Star break next year). There is more talent that is in the “possible” group for the rotation in 2016 than at anytime in Rockies history. They won’t all hit but…this team has to get some good luck sooner or later…just the nature of the odds.
The bullpen is collecting more and more power arms. Guys like the two Castros (Miguel may still end up being a starter…he doesn’t even turn 21 till Christmas Eve), Christian Friedrich (whose arm didn’t stay fresh and needs to long-term), Jairo Diaz, Justin Miller, Scott Oberg and Tommy Kahnle can, with experience, be a pretty good group of arms. Maybe not Royals levels but…in that next tier. Again, development is the key.
The Rox position player group has to improve. Charlie Blackmon has finally convinced me. He’s an everyday centerfielder and lead-off guy. With the new group of statistics to evaluate I can see that CB has a route efficiency on fly balls of around 90%, top 5 overall in the baseball. Corey Dickerson’s glove is also a thing to fear but a healthy year would make a huge difference going forward. Will CarGo be back? I think you doing find 40 homer power in many places in baseball and that unless you get offered a prospect with a darn good chance of reaching a #1 or #2 ceiling, you don’t make that deal. CarGo isn’t that old and his body…thanks to so many games off due to injury, is still pretty fresh. Around the infield we know that Arenado will be back…but who else? Do we see the Rox trade DJ while his value is as high as it can ever be? They can replace his glove with that of Adames but his bat has become good enough to value in and of itself. Will the Rox exercise the option and bring back Justin Morneau, thinking that his trade value if the season blows up is worth the $9 million risk (the team has to play somebody….their not going to retain fans long enough for a rebuild to work if the payroll goes down next year). And what do they do with Jose Reyes? How much of the contract do they eat? Has the play of Tom Murphy encouraged the team to deal away Nick Hundley?
AAA next year should be stacked. I expect David Dahl to start there if he comes to camp and looks like he learned a lot the 2nd half of AA season and at Arizona Fall. Trevor Story likely starts the season there as well. Other solid prospects at AA New Britain this year should fill out that group. The AA team will be among the most highly thought of in baseball. Featuring 3 of the top 20 players in the CAL league and likely being the hot spot for the team’s best pitching prospects.
And by mid-May…a lot can chance. I for one, after seeing the rise of a lot of teams a year earlier (or two) that forecast am unwilling to already think about 2017. But wow am I glad to be done with 2015.
Think back to the first time the Rox ventured to San Fran. A series they swept, thanks in no small part to what I still think is the best catch I saw this year or for several. Nolan’s catch was never going to get the credit it deserved. It happened late in the evening of a mid-week April game in San Francisco. It was made by a player than even in April 2015 was unknown to most people. And it didn’t happen on a team that was going to compete. The Josh Dolandson catch in Toronto was very good…and was in a no-hitter at the time. But…not the level of difficulty of Nolan’s. Add in the near body-severing collision with the tarp and the immediate throw to 3rd and you have the best catch of the year. The Mike Trout grab last week of a homerun ball was very good…but he used the fence to keep him up and he faced the ball when it came to him. Two things Nolan didn’t get to do…and still made the catch.
That early April series in San Fran came after the Rox swept the (soon to be hapless, and now much less hapless) Brewers, thanks to an opening day shutout from Kyle Kendrick (words never to be uttered again in the course of all human history…Kyle Kendrick….shutout….Opening Day). Then the loss of 2 of 3 to the Cubs (who didn’t look that good in early April) thank to a bomb off Dexter Fowler’s bat against the guy who should never have been closing (remember, we still had a healthy Zero back then). But the Rox righted the ship and left San Francisco 7-2! No, really. Go back and look at it. The Rox then got swept by the Dodgers and lost the first two to San Diego, making them 7-7, before picking off the last two against the Padres and splitting two games (Sunday rainout, the first of way too many in the season) at home vs. the Giants. They hit the road again as a solid 10-8 team, heading to Arizona , winning the first game to go 11-8, and then losing the next two.
At the end of April 30 though…they were 11-10!
Wow what a horrible beginning to May. They lost 14 games including those last two of April, and by the time they won again…all the way on May 14th in LA thanks to so many rainouts, the season was over. At 11-22 we all knew it was over. Really over. We started the Jon Gray watch. We begged for players to come to Coors from AAA just so we could see someone else fail. We watched the guy with the best stuff of any reliever in Rockies history blow out his elbow in a game that like all of them in 2015, was meaningless. We waited and watched for Tulo to be traded (I think we got a great deal in hindsight, just my opinion). We saw Nolan get hot and hit lots of homers (and the Rox still lose), and then we saw CarGo go on a run for 2 months that was pretty darn epic (and they lost). We watched a lot of bad baseball (okay, I didn’t because of being sick…but never before has so much misery saved someone from enduring….so much misery). And we all sort of went…silent.
As I said in my rather emberassing rant….the Rox management has official killed my baseball spirit. I enter October without cable channels to watch the greatest game on earth. I watch the internet these days in hopes of some sign the Rockies didn’t make a major mistake in choosing Jeff Bridich as their GM (I would have loved to grab Jerry Dipoto this summer). We all wonder if the Rox should just hire this website to do their in-game managing and make Jenny Cavnar the on-bench manger to implement our strategy (I mean, Jenny already knows not to leave Boone Logan in to pitch to a righty if there are any righties with a pulse in the bullpen). And the sad reality is no one here thinks the team will do anything serious to address its needs….to try and become a winner in 2016. I mean even a Boone Logan signing (ie, giving a 3 year deal to a reliever who is well thought of…not the actual Boone Logan signing which has been horrible not least of which he has not really been healthy since the moment the ink dried on the contract) would top Kyle Kendrick.
Oh, and if they bring Kyle Kendrick back in 2016….I am officially giving up baseball for life and becoming a devotee of Australian Rules Football.
This season has simply been the worse in team history. As bad as the early days were (hey, it was fun at least), or the Todd and the Toddlers stage (hey, we got that Hampton and Neagle didn’t work and they did a good job of bringing in new talent every year to at least gets us interested), this year, after the last 4 before it…this year, ruined baseball in Colorado.
And yet strange enough, the Rox left San Francisco after their first road trip in first place.
Baseball is a weird game at times.
Tonight’s starters are Kyle Kendrick (so what is the all-time record for most homers allowed in a season?) vs Chris Heston who threw a no-hitter this year…and then was sent to AAA to work on stuff. Again…weird game this baseball thing is.
This is my last game preview of the year (sorry about last Tuesday, we had a kid get really sick right after school and I simply didn’t get back to a computer for many hours), but will hopefully start writing season reviews of players and other items in the future.
Once I detox from this disaster….