Friday Rockpile: Monfort addresses season ticket holders

Lisa Blumenfeld

This is the off season. We close-read PR statements. Only 176 days until Opening Day!

Yesterday, Dick Monfort, owner of the Colorado Rockies, sent a letter to season ticket holders about the state of the Rockies. I am not a season ticket holder, but the letter was put up on Twitter and Troy Renck put it on his blog, so I'm assuming there isn't any confidential information there. For instance, there's nothing about a secret handshake that gets you into the brand new party deck at Coors Field. Although there is something called a "Season Ticket Holder "Loyalty Card"". Not sure what that's about, but it sounds nice.

The letter is pretty much boilerplate public relations stuff, but there are some interesting nuggets.

Rotation

The foundation of our starting pitching – Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood – was a combined 38-21 with a 3.40 ERA. We have already begun the process of how to bring experience and talent to that group.

It's true, those three were really good in 2013. It's also true that no one else who started a game for the Rockies managed a sub-5 ERA. What might be the "experience and talent" to which Monfort is referring? Let's hope it isn't a continued reliance on Roy Oswalt*. Perhaps the Front Office will look to make a big splash by trading for David Price. But I guess I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on that scenario.

*Who has a truly bizarre peripheral-to-results discrepancy. He had the best K/9 of his career in 2013, at 9.46 while also limiting walks to 2.51 per 9 innings. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, which values only those events the pitcher controls, namely strikeouts, walks, and home runs) was 3.08 and led the club's starters. His BABIP was a horrendous .442. You could make the argument that he's been unlucky and could still benefit the club. But I made that argument when we picked him up, and you know what they say, once bitten twice shy.

Prospects

We’re also excited about the strength of the minor league system with pitchers Eddie Butler and 2013 1st round pick Jonathan Gray on the horizon.

I'm excited about them too! He doesn't get too specific about time frames, but Butler might knock down the door early next year and Gray might be ready near the end of the season. Reinforcements are incoming.

Cuddyer's Future

Michael Cuddyer, the National League batting champion, will likely move to first base creating an opportunity to fill his position in the outfield with a big bat.

I'm happy to hear confirmation that they view Cuddyer as a first baseman. Both UZR and DRS hated his defense in right field, rating him as costing double-digit runs compared to average. But who is this "big bat" he's referring to? Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon are nice players, but it seems optimistic to call them "big bats". Maybe he literally wants to plant a giant bat carved out of a redwood tree in right field, in a gimmick reminiscent of Tal's Hill in Houston. But I hope he's referring to a human being.

Also, does anyone else roll their eyes when people refer to the guy who led the league in batting average as the "batting champion"? It seems awfully presumptuous to me. Batting involves a lot more than just spraying singles everywhere. Or do we really think that Freddy ".344/.378/.473" Sanchez was a better batter than Albert ".331/.431/.671" Pujols in 2006? But anyway.

Bullpen

We also need to improve the back end of the bullpen. Rex Brothers did well filling in for Rafael Betancourt, however it left us short in the setup role. Adam Ottavino will get an opportunity and we got a sneak preview of Chad Bettis as a starter and bullpen candidate. No matter his role, Chad will help our club.

Whither Matt Belisle? He did lead the team's relievers in fWAR and FIP after all. His fastball looked pretty straight and with a little less life though, leading to a bunch of hard hit balls and contributing to his 4.32 ERA.

It's interesting that they haven't settled on a role for Chad Bettis, but I'm glad they haven't committed yet. I like Bettis's arsenal a lot, and would love for him to become a good starter, but it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up in the bullpen. He'll be an interesting piece next year.

Road Issues

We led the league in runs at home, but finished near the bottom on the road. The home/road issues have been well documented – perhaps over documented. No excuses, we need to find a solution to the problem.

Over documented? What does that mean?

Optimism

I will leave you with this – I do not believe we are a middle of the pack team; we are right around the corner from being really good with the return of our three All-Stars along with the young players mentioned above.

Well, okay. It's not like he's gonna tell season ticket holders that we're stuck in a loop of futility and mediocrity. But calling the Rockies a team that's better than middle of the pack, after three straight losing seasons, is an iffy proposition. I don't think 2014 is a lost cause, but it'll take some shrewd off season maneuvers and a heaping helping of luck to get back into the winner's circle.

But hey, at least season ticket prices aren't going up.

Links

Oh, I guess there actually was some baseball yesterday. The Dodgers spanked the Braves behind Clayton Kershaw, and the Cardinals laid a beatdown on the Pirates.

Alex Rodriguez is suing MLB citing defamation of character and an effort to end his career. This whole saga is hilarious.

Off Topic

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