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DJ LeMahieu’s future with the Rockies might rest in Trevor Story’s hands

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Rockies news and links for February 16, 2018

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Rockies: The future of DJ LeMahieu with Trevor Story | Rox Pile

Since 2013, DJ LeMahieu has been our man at second base. But 2018 is looking like it will be our last year with the two-time Gold Glove winner. He enters the free agent market at an unfortunate time, as the Rockies are also dealing with Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado also reaching the end of their contracts. One key component for LeMahieu’s future is the performance of Trevor Story. He gave a superstar performance in his rookie year, then hit a bit of a sophomore slump, with a disappointing amount of strikeouts. Despite his lack of offense, Story provided a strong defense at shortstop. If he is able to continue to deliver there, then the Rockies might look to move prospect Brendan Rodgers from his traditional shortstop position to second base after LeMahieu’s contract is up.

Rodgers, as the top prospect, could be a natural, more affordable option for second base. However, in the instance that Story doesn’t deliver, the Rockies might look to put Rodgers at shortstop, meaning there is some need to hang onto LeMahieu. If you ask me, though, I don’t see the Rockies keeping LeMahieu after this year. Given that he’s entering free agency alongside Charlie Blackmon, followed by Nolan Arenado after the 2019 season, he’s in the unfortunate position of coming up a little too short. As much as I love seeing him at second, I think he is a lower priority for the Rockies to try and keep than the other two stars.

Colorado Rockies: Pat Valaika is the underdog they need | Rox Pile

Pat Valaika has already given us reason to believe in him. He stepped up in 2017, making 195 plate appearances and having some pretty solid results. He did really well for us as a pinch hitter, leading the league in those statistics. He also delivered in what was overall a tough Wild Card game. At this point, it’s hard to say where Valaika fits on the field, though. He did well at first, but doesn’t seem like the ultimate answer to that question. He could play there, but most likely as back-up there rather than starter. Regardless of where he ends up, the Rockies could find themselves relying on him in 2018. This year, we are going to see a lot of young players, and Valaika could be a huge part of that talent.

Rockies manager Bud Black learned valuable lessons about mile-high baseball | Denver Post

Bud Black has had his fair share of baseball experience, but he has had to adapt, like most, to playing at the highest elevation in the MLB. Black came in last year with a plan, and overall, it worked for him. However, he now understands that some adjustments need to be made to account for the high altitude. The oxygen levels take a toll, and that is a factor to be considered in managing the team.

The consideration here is mostly with pitching, and Black has worked with the staff to best understand how to maneuver starting pitchers and the bullpen in the most strategic way possible. The Rockies currently have a very young rotation, one that managed to do very well for the team last year. However, in general, they did not have the endurance that Black seems to be looking for. Even though the team has an incredible bullpen, the starters need to be able to last a bit longer. As long as everyone can communicate, recovery should be possible, and the entire pitching staff can hopefully be successul.

Tapia bulks up, maintains speed | Rockies.com

In 2017, Raimel Tapia was something of a string bean. This allowed him to have some incredible speed, running the bases pretty well as the fastest Colorado Rockie. However, this meant that he didn’t have the most power, hitting only two home runs in his major league appearances last year. Tapia has worked on this in the offseason, putting on 15 pounds, hopefully in muscle. Tapia is going to face some competition for an outfield position this year, so we’ll see if this helps him prove himself in Spring Training.