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Rockies still expect Wolters and Murphy to contribute

Rockies news and links for December 21, 2017

Rox still expect to rely on Wolters, Murphy |
Even with the signing of Chris Iannetta, there has been speculation about the Rockies considering an additional move to upgrade behind the dish. While his comments don’t rule out the possibility, general manager Jeff Bridich says that in-house options Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy are very much expected to be relied upon in 2018. You will recall that around this time last offseason, we all anticipated Wolters and Murphy sharing time behind the plate in the 2017 season. A broken forearm for Murphy ruled out that possibility, and Wolters’s offensive struggles led the team to trade for Jonathan Lucroy at the trade deadline.

I remain intrigued by Murphy and his power potential. But when Murphy was healthy enough to join the big-league club in 2017, he went an uninspiring 1-for-24 at the dish. Thomas Harding’s notes that Murphy’s struggles appeared to result from him pressing at the plate, and he features quotes from Murphy and Bridich that express confidence in Murphy’s ability to rebound in 2018. As for Wolters, he has clearly demonstrated the ability to handle the physical requirements of catching duties, but Rockies manager Bud Black notes that there is still room to grow for Wolters in the “instinctual” aspect of the position. Undoubtedly, there is room to improve upon the wRC+ of 49 that Wolters produced in 2017 as well.

The article does not give any indication as to whether Wolters or Murphy is entering Spring Training as a favorite for the backup position, and the team may look to get creative with their 2018 opening day roster. If the Rockies hypothetically wanted to carry all three catchers on the roster, Wolters does have the flexibility to play the infield and has looked to be at least an average infielder in an admittedly miniscule sample.

Colorado Rockies: who should they target in free agency? | Rox Pile
Rox Pile has a rundown on the remaining free agents that could help the Rockies in 2018. First base, the corner outfield, starting pitching, and the back end of the bullpen remain the focus.

Colorado Rockies: Larry Walker gaining traction in Hall of Fame voting | Rox Pile
It will be tough for Larry Walker to gain the 75 percent vote that is required to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but there has been a significant improvement in Walker voting on 2017’s ballots compared to those of 2016. This bodes well for the coming years.

Around Baseball

Orioles’ closer Zach Britton ruptured his Achilles | SB Nation MLB
If the Rockies were looking to swing a trade to continue to improve their bullpen this offseason, Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton is no longer an option. Britton suffered a ruptured achilles during a workout and is expected to be out of commission for “at least” six months.

The Giants really think they can contend in 2018, and it’s adorable | SB Nation MLB
I knew I would love this article just from the title. The San Francisco Giants received third baseman Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday in exchange for young (but oft-injured) infield prospect Christian Arroyo, outfielder Denard Span, and two young pitchers in Matt Krook and Stephen Woods. This is certainly a win-now move for the Giants, even though they finished the 2017 season with a 64-98 record, a healthy 40 games back of the NL West champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. San Francisco ended the year with Pablo Sandoval at the top of the third base depth chart, so there was certainly room for an upgrade at the hot corner.

The Giants appear to be taking a run at contention in the limited window they have left as their roster is aging. In fact, as Grant Brisbee mentions, the Giants will owe seven players a combined $130 million in the year 2020. The youngest of these players, Brandon Belt, will be 33 years of age. The Giants significantly underperformed their ZiPS projections in 2017, and even with projections for better luck in 2018, it will still be hard to envision the team breaking the .500 mark.

It sure sounds like Jay Bruce is next for the Giants | McCovey Chronicles

But wait, there’s more! When I saw the Longoria trade and the inclusion of Span, I thought it was a sure sign that the Giants were looking to sign Lorenzo Cain. There has been no connection reported between Cain and the Giants, however; the name that has surfaced is Jay Bruce, who you will recall has been connected to the Rockies at various points during the offseason. Bruce is a year younger than Cain, but Cain has racked up 20.6 fWAR since 2013, which is more than Bruce’s entire career (2008-2017) fWAR. Since 2013, Bruce has produced 7.2 fWAR that pales in comparison to what Cain has done in that time. While Bruce has a clear advantage in the power department, Cain does essentially everything else better. The Giants need power more than they need anything else though and Bruce could be a better fit for them in that respect. Hey, if the Giants signing Bruce ensures that he doesn’t sign with the Rockies, that’s fine by me.

The Evan Longoria trade should make you question everything about the Tampa Bay Rays | DRays Bay
What has transpired this offseason has been very sad for both Florida baseball teams, with the “firesale” of the Miami Marlins and now the trade of Rays franchise icon Longoria to the Giants. Daniel Russell of DRays Bay reflects on the Longoria trade from the perspective of a Rays fan. Longoria has been the cornerstone of the Rays franchise through thick and thin, and is now gone. It seems accurate to say this is akin to the Rockies’ trade of Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, except ten times more heartbreaking.

Russell’s article expresses outrage against Rays ownership and bluntly states, “Everyone loses, but worst of all, particularly the fans in Tampa Bay.” The column is well worth a full read, as it reflects a deep sadness that will be felt throughout the entire Rays fanbase for the foreseeable bleak future. Consider yourself lucky to be a Rockies fan today.