On Friday, the World Series Champion Houston Astros officially locked up their superstar second baseman Jose Altuve to a 5-year, $151M extension. Altuve is a five-time All-Star and coming off a 2017 season that saw him win the AL MVP, a 4th Silver Slugger, slash .346/.410/.547, hit 24 home runs, and nab 32 stolen bases. Phew, I’m nearly out of breath, and that’s the abbreviated version of his accomplishments.
The Astros were smart to extend Altuve, a once-in-a-generation talent, to a long-term deal, and it would behoove the Rockies to do the same with our future Hall of Famer, Nolan Arenado. As Kevin Henry of Rox Pile points out, Arenado is happy right now coming off a special season that saw the Rockies make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, and, to Nolan’s delight, his great friend Carlos González just rejoined the team. It’s the perfect time for the Rockies to offer an extension to the face of their franchise.
Nolan is the key to the Rockies’ success as they enter a Postseason contention window, and Jeff Bridich and ownership shouldn’t be scared to spend big on him. Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling projected an 8-year, $280M extension is possible, if not more, and even if that means Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu have to walk, the Rockies should pull the trigger.
Young stars like Brendan Rodgers and David Dahl have the potential to fill those shoes or exceed them, and Nolan could ultimately go down as the greatest 3B to ever play the game. He could be the next Todd Helton to this franchise and fanbase, and is worth every penny.
The Rockies’ potential starting outfielders and bench depth at OF have been a hot topic of discussion this offseason. With Gerardo Parra quickly healing from his hand injury and CarGo back to patrol RF, the murky water is becoming more clear as to who will be in the lineup on Opening Day — but who will back them up is still unknown, and David Dahl continues to make it a difficult decision for Bud Black to make.
After starting the year 0-for-15, Dahl has since gone 11-for-38 at the plate with a team-leading five home runs and 14 RBI, and is a perfect 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts. Dahl is quickly piling up quality at-bats and, as a first-round pick in 2012, is clearly in the Rockies long-term plans if he can remain healthy.
The only question that remains is if Dahl is ready to breakout and contribute to the Rockies right away, or if he needs more time to build stamina, get used to the grind, and get valuable, consistent playing time in Triple-A Albuquerque. Either way, Dahl is making it hard for the Rockies to make a decision, and that’s a great problem to have.
Rox Pile continues the David Dahl discussion, but in this post makes a prediction as to who will be in Arizona with the Rockies on Opening Day. The battle for a roster spot remains hot between Dahl, Raimel Tapia, and Mike Tauchman, but is looking more and more like a two-horse race as Tapia has struggled at the plate (6 for his last 26) and on the basepaths (3-for-6 in stolen base attempts).
As I wrote just above, Dahl is making a strong case for himself to make the team with his resurgence this spring, but my man Tauchman continues to be a model of consistency and I believe he could be the best back-up OF option for the Rockies to start the year. Mike is slashing .327/.404/.571 with 3 stolen bases, 3 doubles, 3 triples, and 1 home run — nearly half of his total hits going for extra bases. It’s the kind of production that can’t be ignored.
Having Tauchman start the year on the bench would give him the opportunity to make an impact at the major league level while Dahl finds his groove in Triple-A. I believe it makes the most sense for the Rockies in both the short-term and long-term, but what about you?
It’s no secret the Rockies might not be able to afford the services of DJ LeMahieu once he hits the free-agent market following the 2018 season. Luckily, two of the top INF prospects in the system appear to be not far from the big leagues, are having strong spring training showings, and are working hard to make an impact — even if it means changing positions.
Brendan Rodgers (No. 1 PuRP) and Garrett Hampson (No. 9 PuRP) both came up in the Rockies system as shortstops, but are now spending many innings in-game and defensive reps pre- and post-game at second base. Stu Cole is working closely with both young prospects on mechanics, footwork, and fielding, and manager Bud Black is accelerating their learning curves by giving Rodgers and Hampson significant playing time — Garrett leads the team in game splayed this spring (23), and Brendan is tied for second (22).
Thomas Harding points out that the opportunity to play on the 25-man roster exists for both Rodgers and Hampson this year. Currently, Trevor Story and DJ have SS and 2B locked up, but Pat Valaika (their primary back-up) is injured, unproven as an every-day player, and there is no other middle-infielder on the 40-man roster. As a result, Brendan and Garrett are both one injury away from a potential call-up, the Rockies are doing everything they can to prepare them for the opportunity, and that’s exciting as hell.
Spring Training Recap
The Rockies wore these beauties yesterday on St. Patrick’s Day during their matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers, and regardless of your opinion on the daring coexistence of purple and green, they did my Irish culture proud.
As for the (other) highlights of the game, Ryan McMahon continued his hot spring by going 2-for-4 with a double, David Dahl singled and stole a base, and Brendan Rodgers went 1-for-3 but struck out two more times, raising his total to 13 Ks (to only four walks) — a concern, but nothing too out-of-the-ordinary for such a young player. Also of note, Daniel Castro, hoping to make the club as a valuable utilityman, grounded into a rare triple-play.
On the rubber, Antonio Senzatela looked to keep his strong spring going, but gave up four runs on six hits and one walk. All four runs were unearned due to a fielding error, but it was his error that set it up, plus some defensive miscommunication between Tony Wolters and Brendan Rodgers on a double steal of second and home by the Brewers that scored a run. Otherwise, Antonio looked sharp and struck out 3, settling down after a rough 2nd inning.
Also of note, key pieces of this year’s bullpen — Adam Ottavino, Chris Rusin, and Scott Oberg — all pitched scoreless innings and struck out a batter. It’s great to see Adam continue succeed this spring as he tries to bounce back from a disastrous 2017, and for Chris and Scott to both keep building on strong 2017 campaigns. If the stars keep aligning for the Rockies bullpen, it looks like it will truly live up to its offseason hype as a Super Bullpen and carry this pitching staff to a Postseason birth. Fingers crossed!