On Saturday afternoon, some of the more outspoken and analytical Rockies fans met to talk baseball at El Charrito in LoDo for an offseason Rockies Bloggers Panel. The Q&A-style discussion featured panelists from various blogs including: Richard Bergstrom, host, Jeramiah Penaflor of Rockies Zingers, Zach Marburger of Mile High Sports and Purple Row’s own Drew Creasman. If you weren’t able to make it, here’s a little of what you missed.
Arguably the biggest move made by the Rockies organization so far this offseason has come in the front office itself. So the opening question asked the panelists what they thought of Jeff Bridich thus far in his short tenure as general manager. Overall, no one was opposed to Bridich; the moves he’s made, however small, were moves they’ve liked. Particularly the addition of Jairo Diaz for Josh Rutledge, and the signing of free agents Nick Hundley and Daniel Descalso.
In terms of the Rutledge trade and Descalso signing, the conversation took a comparative spin on each deal to discuss whether or not Daniel Descalso is a satisfactory replacement for Josh Rutledge. It was agreed that the Rockies lost a great head of hair this offseason, but also Rut’s solid athleticism and ability to serve well as a back-up shortstop. What they gained in Descalso was versatility.
Rutledge and Descalso are, for the most part, interchangeable. Both former third round picks leaving their original organizations for the first time, with nearly identical fielding percentages of .961 and .960, respectively. Utility infielders you can feel good about putting in your lineup to give a starter a rest day, but not the type of guy whose .240-.250 range batting average will replace a healthy Troy Tulowitzki or Nolan Arenado over a stretch.
So are the Rockies better or worse off either way? The panel saw both sides. But either way, Josh will take his boyish good looks to Anaheim, with Daniel Descalso filling the void in Denver.
At this point in the offseason, people are growing tired of talking about Wilin Rosario, but the panel did touch on the subject. By the looks of things, the Rockies will carry three catchers into spring training in Wilin Rosario, Michael McKenry and Nick Hundley. But following an all-around down year for Rosario, where he will find playing time is still to be determined.
Hundley will get the majority of the starts, and Michael McKenry’s late season display of ability has him in line as the favorable back-up. Rosario still has options to the minors, but as Zach Marburger pointed out, there’s no question he’ll destroy Triple-A pitching, and won’t gain the kind of defensive experience he needs at a level lower. Rosario has played some first base, but that would hinder Ben Paulsen -- who I’d like to see more of in 2015 -- from getting regular plate appearances. It’s illogical to put a player of Wilin’s speed and stature in Coors’ expansive outfield, and the Rockies don’t need for him there anyway.
Basically, what the club has on their hands is a young guy with an impressive ability to hit left handed pitching, and nowhere to put him. Weird -- sounds like he would make a great DH.
Later, the matters of health and contention came to a head when asked if a healthy Rockies roster meant a post-season capable team. This was a subject of much more buzz last year pre-season with the addition of players like Brett Anderson and Justin Morneau, which gave the organization the attractive appearance as a team adding elite talent from the outside to bolster their starting rotation and lineup. Unfortunately, then baseball happened, or rather, didn’t happen for so many of the Rockies’ key contributors, and 2014 will now go down in history as "the year that could have been so good but instead was so bad," or something like that. In terms of this year, the panelists weren’t so optimistic.
Generally, the understanding is that 2016 is the closest possible contention year for the Rockies, and the club has this season to prime themselves for it. That's been the feeling around here lately, too.
The latest Rockies Blogger Panel featured all this and more in its hour and a half or so of baseball debate. A great opportunity to hear from Rockies writers around the bloggersphere, as well as interesting information and fun personal accounts from MLB.com’s Thomas Harding and Root Sports’ Marc Stout. An afternoon of Mexican food and talkin’ baseball is just what a Rockies fan needs to get through the long, harsh winter. Keep an eye out for the next panel, and don't miss out!
UPDATE: Rockies Zingers has posted an audio file of the entire event--give it a listen!