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Rarefied Rockies making history

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Rockies news and links for March 15, 2018

Rarefied Rockies

Pitching staff makes this the best Rockies team ever assembled | Mile High Sports
Will the 2018 Rockies be the greatest iteration of the team in franchise history? Yes, said Baseball America founder Tracy Ringolsby in an interview on the Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro. The reason? It’s the pitching staff. Rookies Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela, and Jeff Hoffman combined for 38 wins in 2017, which marked the fifth-most wins for rookies in a rotation in the history of the game. With Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, and Tyler Anderson healthy entering the 2018 campaign, the starting rotation looks to be the strongest that the Rockies have ever put out on the field.

Of course, this isn’t even mentioning the bullpen. Wade Davis replaces Greg Holland as the closer, and may well represent an upgrade. Davis’ 2017 Win Probability Added of 3.54 was a good margin better than Holland’s 1.63. Bryan Shaw, who had a 1.6 fWAR in 2017, essentially replaces Pat Neshek, who the Rockies acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies at last year’s trade deadline. While Neshek continued to pitch well in Colorado, he was only around for one-third of the season. For the other two-thirds of the year, Jordan Lyles occupied his roster spot. Even with Neshek’s success, he and Lyles combined for a fWAR of 0.7 in 2017.

Full years of Davis and Shaw, and similar seasons from Chris Rusin and Jake McGee will make the bullpen a force to be reckoned with. In very small sample sizes this Spring, Mike Dunn and Adam Ottavino have had very positive showings, and rebound campaigns from these two veterans would surely make for one of the very best bullpens in the game.

Mike Schmidt’s Heir Apparent Is Nolan Arenado, Says Mike Schmidt | The New York Times
Look at Nolan Arenado gracing The New York Times! I didn’t think it was possible to absolutely adore Nolan more than I already do, but this must-read article has risen to the occasion.

Mike Schmidt is widely considered the best third baseman of all time (Alex Rodriguez played shortstop for most of his career), but he says he’s ready to hand over the reins of that distinction to Denver’s own star at the hot corner. Arenado has won a Gold Glove Award in each of his first five seasons in the big leagues—something no other infielder has ever done before. Tyler Kepner of The New York Times has quotes from Schmidt about his belief that Arenado is the “heir apparent to the all-time greatest third basemen.” There are also plenty of historical comparisons to Arenado and Schmidt, and others who have played the game at an elite level.

In 2012, a third baseman other than Arenado won a National League Gold Glove. It was Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres, who now finds himself back in the division, but acknowledges that “It’s going to be tough to get it back.” But despite all his accolades, Arenado says he doesn’t believe he’s even the best active third baseman in the game. And that is all the motivation he needs to continue putting an excessive amount of work into his training regimen.

The article also features quotes from Austin Romine and Arenado’s former Class-A Manager Jerry Weinstein, who both laud Arenado’s work ethic from his time playing with or for them.

Return puts Carlos Gonzalez in rare company among all-time Rockies | Mile High Sports
Carlos Gonzalez is back with the Rockies and entering rare company. This will be year number 10 with the Rockies for CarGo, and he is the fifth player in franchise history to play a decade with the team. Gonzalez continues to climb the list of career accolades with the club. He comes into 2018 5th all-time in hits and runs batted in, 4th all-time in doubles and home runs, and 3rd all-time in runs scored. If CarGo collects 160 hits in 2018 (he had 174 hits as recently as 2016), he will move past Larry Walker for second place in on the franchise’s all-time hits list, and trail only Todd Helton. Whenever you’re in company with two should-be Hall of Famers, you know you’ve had a very accomplished career.

Perhaps the biggest goal, though? If the Rockies make the postseason in 2018, CarGo will be the first player in franchise history to make the playoffs with the club in three seasons.

Not-Yet Rarefied Rockies

Pipeline report: Rockies camp | MLB.com
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo profiled the Rockies on Wednesday, and gives high marks to a farm system that is still strong, despite recent graduations thinning out the minor leagues a bit. There are a lot of good quotes from Rockies senior director of player development Zach Wilson, who specifically mentions Brendan Rodgers (PuRP No. 1), Garrett Hampson (PuRP No. 9), and Yonathan Daza (PuRP No. 19) as prospects that have stood out in the Cactus League.

Pipeline Q&A: Rockies’ Colton Welker | MLB.com
Mayo also participated in a Q&A session with Rockies prospect Colton Welker (PuRP No. 5). Welker was able to get some time in big league camp early in Spring Training, but is now focused on getting ready for the minor league season. Welker talked about some of the frustrations behind having to cut a season short due to injury when you’re performing at a high level, along with offering his thoughts to the victims of the tragedy at his alma mater of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

State of the Rockies

CarGo glad to be back in Rox uni with ‘mates | Rockies.com
CarGo has looked good in his initial showings in minor league camp. He was 1-for-3 in a minor league game on Tuesday, and 2-for-4 with a home run on Wednesday. Gonzalez says he is glad to be back with the club, and does not regret rejecting a three year, $45 million deal prior to the offseason. Rather, he is thankful to have had the experience of free agency.

Colorado Rockies: What could the lineup look like with CarGo? | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling explores different lineups that Manager Bud Black could run out on the field in 2018. It certainly appears as though the Rockies are set to have a 3-4-5 of CarGo-Arenado-Story against right-handed pitching, and Arenado-Story-CarGo against left-handers. It’s possible that Charlie Blackmon could still find himself in the middle of the order, but this experiment seems to be fading.

Colorado Rockies: The dilemma with Ian Desmond | Rox Pile
Ian Desmond is 2-for-28, with a single and a double in Cactus League action. Spring Training numbers don’t mean a whole lot, but the fact that Desmond has struck out 14 times (exactly 50% of his at-bats) is concerning, especially considering the poor inaugural campaign with the Rockies that he is looking to rebound from.