The Denver Post hosted a 1 hour “live chat previewing Rockies’ spring training with beat writers Troy Renck and Patrick Saunder” today, covering everything from the leadership of Tulo, to the likelihood of seeing Blackmon in the outfield this season. Dex’s name came up several times in what proved to be a very entertaining chat, with some excellent questions from Rockies fans. Even “Jeremy Guthrie” asked a question, but it is highly doubtful the “real” Jeremy was at the keyboard typing away – although our latest starting pitcher has an excellent sense of humor, so I wouldn’t put it past him to do something like that.
Here are some of the highlights and, as always, please head over and read the full transcript of the chat. It will be well worth your time.
(all spelling errors come directly from the chat, which is typical in this setting, being that people are typing as fast as they can to ask/answer as many questions as possible)
COMMENT FROM “JEREMY GUTHRIE”: Will I start opening day this year?
(SAUNDERS) Well, “Jeremy,” if I had to place my bet right now, I would say yes. O’Dowd and Tracy really like you. We will see. (RENCK) I have said since Guthrie’s acquisition that he’s the favorite to start opening day. He has done three times. He wants that responsibility. And I believe rotation aligns better with him at the top, helping Chacin’s development.
COMMENT FROM DAVID MARTIN: It seems from an outsiders perspective that Tulo got his big contract and acted like it was his team and everyone else was lucky to be a part of it. His comments after the Ubaldo trade were very disappointing, then he made comments after a Jason Hammel start that didn’t seem very much like “team friendly” comments…did the clubhouse become a Tulo vs. the rest of the guys mentality? Is that part of the reason some of the less fiery guys got shipped out?
Tulo burns with white-hot intensity. He’s driven by winning and preparation. He doesn’t suffer those well who aren’t ready and don’t put the work in. He’s learning how to be more approachable when he struggles. That’s part of maturing. I like Tulo’s candor. He doesn’t always say warm-and-fuzzy stuff. Is he too critical at times? Maybe. Each guy that was shipped out was a different case. Iannetta didn’t fit as a mentor to Rosario. Smith was a platoon player and not needed with Cuddyer. Stewart had run out of chances. Street freed up money to get Scutaro. Having more veterans will help Tulo and Cargo. (RENCK)
COMMENT FROM SARAH: How do you think all the player changes will affect the vibe of the clubhouse?
(SAUNDERS) It sure will make for an interesting spring training. Here is what Tulo told me a couple of week ago: “Time will tell. It’s hard to answer that question right now. I think there will be some challenges, but with the guys that we have in here now it might be a quicker process than some might think.” (RENCK) The new players are older. The age brings jokes. Team might have more wrinkles than a Shar-pei. But the reality is all the players brought in have played in playoffs, and get it, as they say. It can only help create more accountability. Little things won’t slide like they did last year, IMO. Question is can the older players stay healthy.
COMMENT FROM STEVE: Besides the rotation that is going to be a question mark all year, I think the key to this season is Dexter Fowler. If he steps up his game then we have 3 legit stars in Cargo, Tulo, and Dexfo. What are his chances of taking the next step this year?
(RENCK) Fowler had his best offseason, working for more than a month with Tulo and Giambi. He’s been much more receptive to constructive criticism. He seems so much more comfortable in who he is and how he can get better. I would be surprised if he doesn’t have a breakthrough season. Totally different mindset for me than in years past. (SAUNDERS) If I had to pick one player — other than a pitcher — I would choose Dexter. If he produces at the plate, and on the bases, the Rockies’ offense has a chance to be dynamic. As CarGo said recently, the Rockies could have enough firepower to get games into the late innings and give the team a chance to win. In other words, the Rox might win 8-6 games rather than 3-2.
COMMENT FROM NORTHSIDER: Is Blackmon a pretty sure bet to be the 4th outfielder, or could someone like Colvin or Andrew Brown grab that spot? And, do they need to carry a 5th outfielder so Cuddyer can spell Helton occasionally at 1B?
(RENCK) Blackmon, Colvin and EY Jr all in mix for backup outfield spots. And Jamie Hoffman on radar as well. I haven’t heard Brown mentioned as strong candidate. Obv that could change if he has good spring. Can’t sit here today and say anyone is sure bet for reserve spots. I liked what I saw out of Blackmon before he got hurt. And EY Jr provides speed and energy. Colvin has to snap out of a yearlong funk. But has power.
COMMENT FROM PHIL: Why do you think Chris Ianetta never panned out? He seemed like he had a good eye, and above average power.
(SAUNDERS) Here are my thoughts on Chris. When he came up, I thought he had all-star potential. I really did. He sure looked the part. But he was never aggressive enough at the plate — pull the trigger! — and he never became the take-charge guy the Rockies need behind the plate. That said, I wish him the best. One of the nicest guys in baseball. (RENCK) Iannetta strange career in Colorado. Kind of “We Love him, we love him not.” They showed confidence with contract, then brought in Olivo to beat him out. They always seemed unsure that he was the guy, and that didn’t help Iannetta mentally. That said, Chris had offensive struggles that earned demotions. Iannetta can be a solid everyday catcher. If he hits .250 with 15 home runs for Angels, they’d love it. Mathis was great defender, but didn’t hit a lick. I am interested to see how Iannetta takes to Scioscia, who is known to be hard on catchers given his own experience at position. But not muc pressure for Iannetta to hit, and he will be catching one of best rotations in baseball. He’s really set up to succeed.
These were just a few of the great questions and answers from the chat. Please take the time to read the whole session here: http://www.denverpost.com/rockies/ci_19961072