On Tuesday Thomas Harding wrote about how new Rockies GM Jeff Bridich already has plenty of work to do and decisions to make. Following Harding's format, I've taken his topics and briefly provided my response to how I think Bridich will deal with these issues.
Hiring decisions in the front office and the major league coaching staff
This includes hiring people to replace Bill Geivett (in an assistant GM role) and himself (in player development), as well as filling out the big league coaching staff around Walt Weiss. I'm kind of surprised that these positions haven't been filled internally already, given Colorado's MO of late.
This is a great opportunity for Bridich to put his stamp onto the front office as a new GM, but an outside hire is unlikely to happen, even if it's a good idea. Much more likely is that people lower down the organizational pyramid get moved up one notch.
The level of involvement from ownership
It seems likely that Dick Monfort will become more involved in baseball decisions now that he's got a green GM in place. This is ... sub-optimal. Monfort's interference with baseball operations is arguably a big piece as to why we find ourselves in this mess today. At times, the structure of Dan O'Dowd, Bill Geivett, and Monfort seemed to click and provided some really good results, but those times have been few and far between. It's hard for Rockies fans to be too optimistic about the new arrangement.
The role of advanced analytics
Harding provides some insight into the analytics used by the Rockies, including a measure of how many "team at-bats" that produce runs a player has. It's good that the Rockies are using more advanced statistics and observing them through a scouting lens. Still, a stat like the one described above seems to be a little too context-dependent to be a great measure of offensive prowess.
Harding also notes that while analysts have had their information disseminated to the coaching staff in strategy sessions, they have have not been present to offer their own views. This is a small but potentially important detail that I could see changing under Bridich: giving internal analysts more of a voice in the organization, allowing them more opportunity to influence team decision-makers.
How to view players that greatly exceeded preseason projections
Harding uses Corey Dickerson, Michael McKenry, and Drew Stubbs as the examples here. This is the danger that every team runs into: overvaluing the players that performed well above expectations following a surprise season. Dickerson needs to be a starter; Stubbs is perfect for Coors Field but a trade needs to be explored; and McKenry is a decent backup catcher but shouldn't be asked to do more than that. I'm guessing that Bridich and company will keep all three players in the fold next year, with McKenry the biggest question mark.
What to do with Wilin Rosario
When he's hot, Rosario's offensive contributions help balance out his demerits behind the plate, but that wasn't the case in 2014. The front office should be well aware of these deficiencies and will actively look to upgrade at the catcher position this offseason. Ultimately though, I'm not sure that the FO will be able to get a catcher that provides a significant upgrade to Rosario.
Valuing DJ LeMahieu
LeMahieu is a relative black hole in the lineup, ranking highest in Drag Factor for the Rockies in 2014, not only because of his woeful 67 wRC+ but also by virtue of the fact that he got 538 plate appearances in 2014. Still, you won't read about LeMahieu in our Ranking the Rockies series for quite some time because of his Gold Glove-caliber defense at second base. It's a tricky situation to be sure. LeMahieu's role on a contending team is as a super-utility infielder and late inning defensive sub, but as a starter his contributions are well above replacement level. I'm guessing the Rockies view LeMahieu and second base as a problem too far down the list to address this offseason.
Projecting Charlie Blackmon
Excuse me, NL All-Star Charlie Blackmon. After a torrid April, Blackmon was much closer to the player he was projected to be coming into the season. Still, that was enough to make him a league average player in 2014. I think that Blackmon's counting and rate stats are going to come down a little next year, but if the Rockies are healthy enough to deploy him as the heavy side of a platoon with Drew Stubbs we could see another good season from Blackmon (and on the cheap).
What to do with Ben Paulsen
Paulsen was never expected to do much of anything at the major league level by prospect aficionados, but he surprised pretty much everyone with his .317/.348/.571 line in 66 plate appearances last year. Looking up and down the roster, I don't see a spot for a back-up left-handed first baseman/right fielder and I doubt the Rockies do either (especially with the presence of Kyle Parker in the wings). Still, Paulsen could force his way onto the roster by mashing like he did last year.
Assembling a pitching staff that won't fall apart
The Rockies took some risks last offseason on pitchers with injury issues like Boone Logan and Brett Anderson - both of whom were severely limited by those injuries in 2014. In addition to those two, Tyler Chatwood (second TJ surgery) and Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder) are major health question marks heading into 2015. Prospects are on the way to help, but they can't be counted on completely to provide the innings necessary to preserve the bullpen for a long season.
If I'm Bridich, I try to use the leverage Colorado has on Anderson to get him to agree to a longer (but less expensive per year) deal than the one year, $12 million option they can exercise this offseason. If anyone like Brandon McCarthy was willing to come to Coors at a market level price, the Rockies should jump on that as well -- if Monfort is willing to take on the extra money.
That's a lot to chew on for a guy new to the GM position. Let's hope he handles it with aplomb in the coming months.