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Rockies’ young rotation looks to take next steps in 2018

Rockies news and links for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Will young arms take next step in development? |
Young starters German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and Jeff Hoffman were all very impressive (or at least were for stretches) for the Rockies in 2017, but more of the same won’t be enough in 2018. The rookies are no longer rookies and it’s time to take steps forward.

At, Thomas Harding notes that one should not “underrate the leadership of manager Bud Black.” Black truly has been the manager that this team, and this pitching staff has needed. I must admit that I did not always hold this viewpoint. I was rather unsure of what to expect from Black when he was announced as manager of the Rockies prior to the 2017 season. While I saw a few in-game moments where decisions could have been made differently, I ultimately believe that Black did a tremendous job for the Rox in 2017 and brings a lot of excitement for what we can expect in 2018.

Walt Weiss took a very passive approach, and it was difficult to see any signs of leadership from the outside observer’s perspective. With Black, there is a clear game plan and a clear gauge on the mindsets of the players, particularly the young pitchers. I particularly admired how Black got the most out of all members of the active roster- the use of Pat Valaika in appropriate situations comes to mind as one example.

Harding briefly touches on the ups-and-downs of Tyler Anderson, a player who I feel has not gotten enough recognition in “2018 previews” and related discussions. Coming back from the disabled list, Anderson was phenomenal in the final month of 2017. I won’t let the small sample size get me carried away, but I think we have a lot to look forward to from Anderson in 2018.

Rockies' pitcher show gets Wade better |
Harding also provides a full run-down of the Wade Davis contract, with the year-by-year salary breakdown, and details on the fourth-year vesting player option. In the column, you can read the endorsement of Davis provided by his former Cubs teammate Carl Edwards Jr.

Colorado Rockies sign Wade Davis: Now what should their game plan be? | Rox Pile
Over at Rox Pile, JD Jensen opines that a two-step game plan exists for the Rockies now that they’ve gotten their closer in Davis. First is to get Charlie Blackmon signed to a long-term deal, and next is to find a “new Greg Holland.”

You will recall that the Rockies’ deal for Holland in 2017 was far different from the contract just signed by Davis. As he was coming off Tommy John surgery, the Rox secured Holland for only a $7 million guarantee in 2017, with incentives providing many more earnings. While the Rockies currently have a good bullpen, it is possible that a low-risk high-reward reliever could perform better than expectations and provide the team with even more value. After all, Adam Ottavino, Carlos Estevez, and Scott Oberg all project as bullpen pieces for the 2018 season, and come with their own risks. While a signing of this nature is by no means a necessity for the Rockies, a list of intriguing low-risk high-reward relief candidates that comes to my mind would consist of Matt Albers, Xavier Cedeno, Brian Duensing, David Hernandez, and Robbie Ross.

Colorado Rockies: 18 things we are looking forward to in 2018 | Rox Pile
Kevin Henry of Rox Pile rings in 2018 with 18 things to look forward to in the Rockies’ upcoming season. One item that gets a mention is the progression of the young pitching staff, as we have discussed. Another is Chris Iannetta, “another veteran catcher working with young pitchers.” Henry likens Iannetta’s impact to that of Jonathan Lucroy for the 2017 team.

The slow offseason, illustrated | NBC Sports
NBC Sports’ Bill Baer delves into the rarities of the 2017-2018 offseason and the snail’s pace at which it is transpiring. Baer chalks the slow offseason up to three main factors: the luxury tax, historically bad contracts, and analytics.

We saw a trade made solely for luxury tax purposes this offseason, as the Los Angeles Dodgers sent Adrián González, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, and Charlie Culberson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Matt Kemp. As they attempt to get under the luxury tax threshold, the Dodgers are looking to get big contracts off their ledger, not add them.

It’s also no secret that some of the contracts signed by MLB Trade Rumor’s top 10 free agents over the past several years have turned out to be poor to disastrous for their teams (Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Pablo Sandoval, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Heyward, Ian Desmond so far). This could also be a deterrent for teams looking to spend big money on big names.

Finally, Baer notes that front offices are continuing to place stronger emphasis on analytics. Consequently, many front offices evaluate players using very similar methods. Using Eric Hosmer as an example from this year’s free agents class, more front offices could be thinking along similar lines and not are not interested in getting into a bidding war for such a risky player.

Where Athletes in the Premier League, the N.B.A. and Other Sports Leagues Come From, in 15 Charts | The New York Times
Finally, I highly recommend checking out this very interesting article from the New York Times. The domestic to foreign player ratio in sporting events across the globe has changed dramatically over the last 40-50 years. In 1960, 99% of Major League Baseball players were born in North America. In 2017, it has decreased to 89% (tied with 2012 for lowest number in MLB history). There are other sports with even more significant trends toward foreign-born players, while others (particularly the NFL) feature very little change.