The NL West team grabbing all the headlines this offseason was the San Diego Padres, with new general manager A.J. Preller making bold, win-now moves in adding the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel.
The Rockies, meanwhile, were looked at as having mainly retained the status quo, counting on the health of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to help them improve on 2014's 66-96 record. However, the Rockies did make several moves that, despite going largely unnoticed by the national and in some cases even the local media, could make a big difference for the team in 2015.
The most obvious change at 20th and Blake was in the front office, with Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett stepping down and Jeff Bridich being promoted to general manager. Being an internal hire, many viewed Bridich as a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" type of hire, but as his first season unfolds it is becoming clear that is not the case.
In an interview with Purple Row's Charlie Drysdale, Asheville Tourists manager Warren Schaeffer touted the new atmosphere and direction that Bridich brought to spring training. Bridich is also being aggressive with his prospects, starting No. 2 PuRP David Dahl at AA New Britain and No. 3 PuRP Eddie Butler breaking camp with the Rockies.
At the major league level, removing Geivett from the clubhouse has seemingly given manager Walt Weiss more freedom to do things as he sees fit, such as moving Tulowitzki and Gonzalez up in the order and embracing defensive shifts.
There have also been changes to the coaching staff, with Jim Wright and Bo McLaughlin removed as pitching coach and bullpen coach, respectively, and replaced with Steve Foster and Darren Holmes, both of whom come from organizations known for developing pitching. Foster was a bullpen coach and pitching coordinator with Kansas City and Holmes, a former Rockies reliever, came from Atlanta, where he was a biomechanics pitching consultant.
Bridich, Foster and Holmes have also seemingly brought with them a new approach to pitching at Coors Field, one that is best summed up in Foster's quote to The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders, "Altitude matters, but attitude matters more."
On the field, the biggest addition was probably that of veteran catcher Nick Hundley, who spent last season with Baltimore and San Diego, hitting .243/.273/.358 with six home runs and a wRC+ of 75. The headline with Hundley's addition, however, is not offense, but that he will move Wilin Rosario, who has always struggled mightily defensively, out from behind the plate.
Hundley's game-calling and defensive abilities behind the plate will be a big confidence boost to the Rockies' pitching staff, according to closer LaTroy Hawkins.
Hawkins will again close games, as he did in 2014, but the rest of the Rockies' bullpen has undergone an extreme makeover. Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers, Tommy Kahnle and Nick Masset, who combined for a 5.02 ERA in 234 2/3 innings in relief last year are all either at AAA Albuquerque or out of the organization entirely.
New to the bullpen for 2015 are veteran right-handers John Axford and Rafael Betancourt, the latter of whom is returning from Tommy John surgery at age 39. Additionally, Brooks Brown and Christian Friedrich, who combined for a 2.43 ERA in 37 relief innings last season have been given expanded bullpen roles in 2015.
The starting rotation has also changed, with Franklin Morales and Jhoulys Chacin, who combined for a 5.38 ERA in 205 2/3 innings in 2014, replaced by Butler and Kyle Kendrick.
While the team may not look that different to the casual observer, the Rockies have made several changes under the hood that could mean they operate very differently in 2015.