The Future Begins Tonight? Rox v Mariners

The Colorado Rockies continue their march towards last place for 2015 with another home game vs. the Mariners. Over the next two months the team has a few things it will focus on. First, avoid finishing with 100 loses. They would like to out of 5th place in the NL West. They even want to play winning baseball post-AS Break (yea, that probably isn’t happening). But for Rockies fans, the next 2 months are about seeing if there is enough talent on this tame to give us any reason…other than our uncontrollable thirst for baseball…to even tune in next February for pitchers and catchers report day. No one…not even me…thought this team was capable of making the playoffs. I thought 78 wins was the high point for this team, and that total envisioned a seasons worth of starts from Jordan Lyles, Eddie Butler and Tyler Matzek. If those three had been anywhere close to break-even, then 78 wins was within the grasp of the team. As we know…none of the three has been in the rotation since opening day. Add to that an offense that missed Corey Dickerson and Justin Morneau for most of the season, saw CarGo being unwatchable for the first 2 months of the season and the now passport caring Tulo be very average and at this point…70 wins will be a push.

 

As fans though, the difference between 78 and 70 wins is….nothing. If you stink, stink badly (I do agree, losing 100 games does such the energy out of an organization). Another year with a top 3 position in the June draft at least gives us something as fans for the misery of seeing bad baseball for much of the season. To be fair, the Rox are not the only really disappointing teams this year. Teams that were supposed to be at least .500 and in the Wild Card race til the end include the Reds (just 47 wins), the Indians (48 wins despite having a rotation the Rox would quite literally be willing to move Coors to….Ohio…for), tonights opponents the Mariners (49 wins), and the last place Red Sox (47 wins) who I think spent more money last offseason that the entire Rox current payroll. Just 44 wins stinks, but at least none of us bought playoff tickets in March. Right now only the Phils (who like the Rox had no realistic pathway to winning baseball) and the Marlins (who now have managed to copy our matra…if only XXXX is healthy we could be good) are ahead of them in the race for worst record. I know it sounds bad to look at this this way, but the Astros decided to really stink for a few years and amassed a huge amount of high-rated talent. That is clearly the Rox pathway as they see it.

 

The Astros have had better luck with health (by a little) than the Rox in their prospects, and they got lucky a few times. But now their fans have 3 or 4 seasons to watch their young players begin to thrive and play interesting baseball. To have any chance in 2016 (thin I grant you) or 2017 (their target year), the Rox need that talent to begin breaking through, first at the minor league levels, and then at the majors. This year they have younger-than-league average talent in High A and AA that really excites. Some struggled before getting it going (David Dahl who since returning from his spleen removal has been pretty good), while others hit the ground running (Tom Murphy, Ramiel Tapia and Ryan McMahon) and a few (Trevor Story and Jordan Patterson). Add to that two very high pitching prospects (including the #1 overall talent in last year’s draft in Hoffman) and suddenly the future looks fun. At least we will watch early Spring Training games to see the kids get their hacks in those games.

 

At AAA and AA there is an interesting mix of future relief pitching (Purple Row did an excellent capture of this on their site but I can’t find my link). If they can get healthy they now have an interesting group of future startring pitching (figuring at least 50% will fail, you need them) with Tyler Anderson, Kyle Freeland, Hoffman and a few others you may not have looked at because their in High A or A. But lets not fool ourselves, if this team is ever going to contend, be it in 2016 or 2017 or later, it needs its #1 pitching prospect in team history to become what he is capable of becoming.

 

Jon Gray has been looked at every different way. A lot of national talent analysts thought he had lost his power and was now at best a #3 (Marc Appel, taken overall #1 in 2013, is similarly being viewed today). Fans were frustrated. But, I think the team has (and I guess time will tell) been smart, forcing him to ditch his slider, an almost unhittable pitch) while he worked on his changeup and his tailing fastball. They wanted him to pitch to contact to learn to conserve pitch counts (a bigger issue at altitude where Greg Maddux once said 90 pitches felt like 130 the next day). Thy wanted him to learn to pitch. And then slowly they have been giving him the chance to once again pick up his high K rate approach. Smart pitchers don’t try and get 20 Ks in a game because they end up with 110 pitches in the 5th. You need some quick outs, and with the defense the team has and will have, why wouldn’t you. And so Gray has been torn down and rebuilt the last two seasons (did they keep the instruction manual is the question). I was in favor of keeping him in AAA as long as he had something to learn (Eddie Butler being an example of that failure), but he comes to the majors about the right point in development for top 10 picks from the college ranks. He has to learn at this level some time, the team decided, given that they threw Yohan Flande again on Sunday, now is the time.

 

My guess is he has a 5 inning or 6 inning limit for August. Again, the goal now isn’t winning, its learning for the future. It’s the reason the team got Jose Reyes to play SS rather than rushing Trevor Story. Its the reason they didn’t trade Hundley and call up Murphy. But its also the reason they need Kyle Parker taking at bats instead of Rosario and Paulsen learning 1B and LF rather than a fill-in. The 2017 Rox are out there. They are in High A, a good number in AA, and now more and more in AAA. But for one night, the team is giving us something to watch at Coors that makes us think about maybe an Opening Day at Coors in the near future where the Rox have the better talent on the hill, and the Dodger and Giants actually have to look over their shoulders.

 

Its true, the journey of 162 games of relevance begins with a meaningless August game a few years earlier.

 

Mariners Position Rox Position
Jackson CF Blackmon CF
Seager 3B Reyes SS
Cruz RF Arenado 3B
Cano 2B CarGo RF
Montero 1B Parker 1B
Trumbo LF DJ 2B
Miller SS Hundley C
Sucre C Barnes LF
Nuno P Gray P
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Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

You know what this feels like? Jeff Francis’ debut in 2004. The first really promising prospect call-up around the time the Rockies had hit bottom (before this time). That worked out pretty well, both for Francis (we forget that while he wasn’t really an “ace” he was really good till his shoulder gave out) and for the Rockies … just 3 years later the incredible 21 of 22 run came, and the World Series followed … … as for Gray:… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

The good: movement on all pitches. Lots of run on the fastball…….to the point that he doesn’t exactly know where it’s going. I like his demeanor on the mound. Shows a little passion. Easy velocity. Nice athleticism covering 1st. Good looking fiancé! Steve Earle for his mound song………wow……..that’s a BIG improvement over Miley Cyrus. The bad: as you note Ag – completely unrepeatable follow thru……to the point that he’s “windmilling” occasionally. Really good to see Kyle Parker getting some 1B… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

That was a good beginning for Gray. Now we see the main reason why they didn’t call him up … they’re babying him (and I’m ok with that) and it wasn’t until last week that they officially threw in the towel for 2015 (I threw in the towel a couple months ago). Remember the Eddie Butler comment about “getting ready for the playoff run?” He wasn’t kidding. They didn’t want Gray up here limited to 5 innings/80 pitches while they… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Agreed.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

ROOT graphic: 3 Rockies regulars (Cargo, DJ, Charlie) hitting right around .400 since July 4 … and the club’s July record? 9-15, followed by 1-2 so far in August … that’s some mighty bad pitching.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Ag – when George Frazier said DJ could get 80 RBI’s hitting down in the lineup, what did your blood pressure hit. Tell the truth?

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Yep, carp, that was a classic — DJ the 80 RBI 5-hole hitter. Just like how Tommy Herr once had an 80 RBI season when Whitey Herzog batted him 3rd after Vince Coleman and Willie McGee. But Whitey was smart enough to know that the RBI stat didn’t mean anything … it just so happened that Herr was the guy who hit the groundballs that scored the speedsters from 3B.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

DJ fits nicely in the #2 slot. Reyes is a defensive liability now (he wasn’t in his glory years – but he is now). Honestly – it’s beneficial for us to move Reyes in a waiver deal (even if we eat a ton of salary and get virtually nothing in return) simply to get DJ back to his slot and give Trevor Story a taste of the Show! Keep in mind – if he get essentially nothing for Reyes and… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

FWIW – in his debut for Boston tonight (in New York), Henry Owens 5IP, 5K’s, 3ER, 96 pitches.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

Friedrich now sucking too, just making sure that the faint glimmer of hope I saw for him is snuffed out before this miserable season ends.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Gopherg again.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

That nickname will follow him right back down to the minors again. Uncanny how may HRs Gopherg gives up. HR/9 leaders in MLB coming in to today’s game, minimum 20 innings pitched: 1. Marcum, Indians, 2.31/9 2. Gopherg, ROCKIES, 2.18 (now the leader!) 3. Kendrick, ROCKIES, 2.06 4. O’Sullivan, Phillies, 2.03 5 Hale, ROCKIES, 2.02 Don’t blame Coors — the Coors HR park factor this year is 1.16. That’s 8th in baseball, way behind the leader — Brewers/Miller Park at… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

It’s interesting the Park Factor is so down this year. Is that a function of our offense being average at best? The prolonged bad Spring weather? Probably some combination of both.

Our pitching is historically bad. This is NOT a surprise. You could see it coming in Spring Training. It will be equally bad next year. Sorry…….just stating the facts.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

And the parade of horribles continues … what will Boone do?

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Left game early to get free PBR with stubs only to see score hey worse. Now the Rox officially lay claim to MLB worst bullpen far beyond Seattle.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Now McKenry is as cheap as a PBR. Gimme another can of PBR.

Bob in Indy
Bob in Indy
5 years ago

Hope you stayed long enough to see Parker’s first career homer.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

We just cannot play AL teams at all.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Stayed long enough to see several Gray first and Parker first HR. It r was worth ticket, but another typical loss.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

Damn … went away for a bit a missed McKenry getting picked off. That after DJLM was “picked off” only to beat a thrown to 2B. Two pick-offs in one game … that’s my Rockies!

RocketMan
RocketMan
5 years ago

Meh, so much for the Gray-t debut. Another guy with potential that hasn’t yet been focused, and who’s going to turn the potential into results? Seems somewhat counterproductive to bring up an innings/pitch limited guy that simply puts more pressure on an over-extended / incompetent bullpen. Another lost season might be great,low pressure experience for Gray but simply further reinforces the culture of losing throughout the rest of the team. And do the low expectations help or hurt Gray’s development?… Read more »

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Gray gives up 3 but bullpen give up what ¿???

Gary
Gary
5 years ago

If Butler and Grey are the future then we need a DeLorean to have any hope.ROX this week scored 9-8-7 and lost all 3 games.Bullpen should all be shipped to Syria except Miller who has pitched so well Walt doesn’t ever use him when we need someone to shut it down.After all the previous years of suffering I am amazed at how disappointed I am at this clown show even though I would have been thrilled with mediocrity.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

Well, I’m gonna step out of character and be the optimist here. Gray was a little too amped up and it showed, but what also showed was this: the only starter we have — really, the only pitcher we have since Ottavino — who can make good hitters look bad. He had the velocity (consistently 94-97), the movement (sometimes too much), and from time to time the swing and miss hard slider. He didn’t look as smooth/controlled in his delivery… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Absolutely Ag. And this thought process “should” apply to Kyle Parker, Trevor Story, and Miguel Castro. Bring them up – give them the ABs – let them get a taste of the show – get an idea what they offer, etc. It also shows how far away we are from contending (not a surprise to me – but I think it is to most). There’s no need to rush guys in the low minors, and there’s no need to hold… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

Nothing to do with the Rockies (maybe a good thing): I think the Mets/Nationals NL East race is going to be terrific. Lots going on. The Mets getting Cespedes/Johnson/Uribe at the deadline gives Lucas Duda nice protection in that lineup. Curtis Granderson is getting hot. But………….all of these really terrific young pitchers have innings limits (in theory). Syndergaard and DaGrom for sure. And also Harvey coming back from TJ. What will they do? We’ll get our asses kicked by both… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

Race for #1 Draft Pick as of 08/05/2015:

Phillies – 42 Wins
Marlins – 43
Rockies – 44
Brewers – 45

The Phillies are playing really good ball recently (I’m serious!). The Marlins, with Stanton’s injury lingering and a trade deadline selloff, aren’t look so good. Of course we’re absolutely terrible. The Brewers…..meh.

The race for the #1 pick is far from over. I see a clear path to the championship!

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

To entertain RMH here – some Carp Crap: I’ve stated several times there is almost universal belief that next year’s draft will be much better than this past year’s. Draftniks are saying there are 7 worthy #1 picks next year. The same draftniks basically said there was one worthy #1 pick this year – Brendan Rogers. 5 of the 7 are pitchers. There is debate within the draftnik community as to how to order these 7 guys – but Alec… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

There’s more for you RMH – Hansen was born in………Loveland, CO.

EdtheUmp
EdtheUmp
5 years ago

OK boys and girls… I have NO talent in linking an article to this site. That being said, fivethirtyeight.com/sports, “Did Your Team Blow It At The Trade Deadline?” is a fascinating article, to say the least, regarding trading future wins for wins now regarding an attempt by teams to make the playoffs. I suspect the agb and sdcarp will be the primary readers/writers that will understand the concept in detail. There may be a few of us who will be… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  EdtheUmp
sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  EdtheUmp

Ed – the funny thing is – if you’re an Owner or a General Manager (or both) – you don’t have to understand this. All you have to do is hire someone that does, and have them explain it to you. Every team should have some stat guru (I’m totally visualizing Jonah Hill as Peter Brand in “Moneyball”) on staff. That guru should be an integral part of decision making. In a vacuum – I didn’t like the Tulo deal… Read more »

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  EdtheUmp

Me too Ed.Box scores are as far as my old brain can go.The great thing about Ag and Carp is they often break it down into normal speak for the statistically challenged such as myself.That being said I still believe the old bromide-there are lies,DAMN lies,and statistics!

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Gary – in my dreams I win a billion dollars in a Lottery and buy the team from Monfart. Then I go out and hire the best young, bright stat freak that money can buy. Simultaneously, I go out and hire 3-4 sage, experienced Scouts. Then – I put them all in the same room as my GM as we discuss every personnel decision from both sides…….and hopefully reach a middle ground. I there’s merit to old-school and new-school. Combine… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

What a Planet Alignment Theory means when it happens: the Diamondbacks. They were every bit as bad as the Rockies on paper when the season began. Now they sit 3 games under .500, 7 games ahead of the Rockies. And their Pythagorean record is actually above .500 (fancy way of saying they’ve scored more runs than they’ve allowed). And they’re 7 games out of a wild card. Yet they wisely avoided (couldn’t afford?) being buyers at the trade deadline. What… Read more »

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Holy analytics Ag man!Phythagorean-my brain just froze into BSD!

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

Oh boy Ag – DJ in the 5 hole today.

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