We’ve reached spring training, but there is still a lot up in the air. The slow offseason has continued on, with several free agents yet unsigned. But there is still some hope, according to Jeff Bridich. He claims that the team still has some feelers out and continues to keep an eye out for anyone who might be a good addition for the Rockies. It’s almost as if the market has overwhelmed the organization. Occasionally the team will feel like there is someone who will fit in, but now it’s like there’s too many choices. And there are still a lot of “ifs” on the team. The Rockies are banking pretty heavily on some young players to step up, and hoping that players who have been plagued with injuries in the past will remain healthy.
Bridich also addressed the question of what might happen at the end of the season. We’ve got the big three (Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, and Nolan Arenado) who will become free agents after this year. Bridich says he plans to keep the conversation open and be ready to consider what it might take to keep some combination of these players. While assuring us that the Rockies might still pick someone up this year, and they might keep some of the free agents next year, Bridich avoids any clear cut answers for what us Rockies fans can expect.
The new pace of play implementations were announced on Monday, and they include a limit on mound visits to six, and a twenty second reduction in commercial breaks. There are several exceptions to the mound visit restrictions, which makes me think there will be several more than six. As for the commercial breaks, there will be some implied pitching warm-up limits as well. Pitchers can throw as many as they like as long as they are within that two minute, five second time frame.
These new initiatives are interesting, to say the least. The real potential seems to lie in cutting down the commercials. The mound visit limits seem iffy, as there is no real penalty for going past the six visits, and the many exceptions mean there will likely be more than six. Who knows?
While there are many pitchers who work a cutter into their repertoire, it’s Bryan Shaw’s go-to pitch. He throws it 88% of the time, and he does it well. Shaw explains that maybe it’s his delivery off the mound, or just the way the ball leaves his hand, but for him, it’s the natural pitch. Some have expressed concern about the pitch in the thin Denver air, but Bud Black is sure that if a pitcher can handle a pitch, he can do it anywhere. The Rockies spent pretty big to get Shaw, and they are hoping, more than anything, to get reliability out of him.
Eric Stephens with the Dodgers’ SB Nation site breaks down how well he thinks the Rockies have done in the offseason. He points out the things that we all know: the Rockies spent big on relief pitchers then remained quiet the rest of the offseason. He claims that pitching was a huge part of our success last year, so it makes sense that this is a good spot to focus if we want a repeat.
Stephens, though, argues that the offense is still a weakness for the Rockies. The Rockies struggled in this area, with some exceptions, but rather than add anyone new, they have instead decided to develop who they already have, looking for more out of Trevor Story, Ian Desmond, and David Dahl. Stephens puts us over .500 for the season, but doesn’t believe the Rockies can make the playoffs. He does acknowledge, however, that he would rethink this statement if Colorado could find another good bat.