The big news coming out yesterday is that former NLCS MVP, 7-time All-Star, and Game 163 hero Matt Holliday has reportedly agreed to a minor league deal with his former team of five seasons who originally drafted him out of Stillwater High School in 1998—YOUR Colorado Rockies. Troy Renck (Matt’s old buddy, apparently) had the scoop on Holliday’s ETA:
Was texting w/ Matt Holliday earlier. Plan is for him to take physical on Saturday then spend 4-5 days in Grand Junction, possibly play a few games. Then go to AAA to see if can find groove to help #Rockies down stretch as bench player. No risk, potential high reward #Denver7— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) July 29, 2018
Nostalgia is abound following the reports, and while we await official word from the Rockies, memories of Rocktober and the ‘07 Postseason and World Series have fans excited for Matt’s return. One interesting twist is former adversary and Padre manager Bud Black, who was sent to the showers when Matt touched home plate in Game 163, will now be his skipper. Will Bud finally admit Holliday’s hand made contact with the dish that fateful day?
Nostalgia aside, what are Holliday’s chances of actually joining the active roster and making an impact on the Rockies’ playoff push? If he can brush off the cobwebs and pick up where he left off in 2017, his chances might actually be pretty good.
In 105 games for the Yankees last year, Matt slashed a mediocre-looking .231/.316./432, but that included 19 home runs, a .201 ISO, and 64 RBI in only 373 at-bats—good for a 95 OPS+. For a team crowded with underwhelming bats coming off the bench, that would play very well in late-game, high-leverage pinch-hitting opportunities.
Entering Saturday, the Rockies bench options ranged in OPS+ from as high as 88 (Tom Murphy, if he isn’t starting) to as low as 8 (Pat Valaika), so Matt Holliday performing at his career low is still an improvement over every current option on the roster. Now whether that is a compliment to Matt or an indictment of the current roster construction can be a debate for another time...
Recently acquired set-up man Seunghwan Oh made his Colorado Rockies debut on Saturday night and pitched a scoreless 7th inning. He gave up one hit and a walk, and while some well-struck balls resulted in a 6.16 FIP for his initial appearance, we can just chalk that up to the excited-to-be-playing-for-a-new-team-jitters (his career FIP is a solid 3.09).
Before the game, Bud Black spoke to the media and Rox Pile’s Jake Shapiro about Oh’s role with the club moving forward, explaining he’ll pitch anywhere from the 6th to 9th inning, and how Oh is expected to be “a vital member of our winning formula.” Look for Seunghwan to compliment Jake McGee and Scott Oberg as bridges to Adam Ottavino and Wade Davis in closing out tight games with the NL West still up for grabs.
There was more positive news out of Bud Black’s pregame media session yesterday, as it turns out DJ LeMahieu’s oblique injury will not keep him out of the lineup for an extended amount of time. Bud was happy to inform that “the training staff and DJ are both encouraged here in the relatively short term of what has happened over the last four or five days,” and when it comes to oblique scares, “this was a mild one.”
Phew. While Garrett Hampson has filled in admirably for DJ, slashing .250/.368/.438 in his first taste of major league baseball, including some highlight-reel defense of his own, the Rockies are eager to have their Gold Glove winning, 2-time All-Star back in the lineup. As a consolation for Garrett, his strong debut should keep him on the active roster as a utility infielder and late-inning pinch-hitter/runner—an upgrade over the slumping Pat Valaika.
In a fun article from the Deseret News, Lee Benson describes what it’s like to be baseball fan in Utah who takes his son and grandkids on a road trip to see the Colorado Rockies play ball at Coors Field. He describes how, generally, “the relationship between Utah and the baseball Rockies hovers somewhere between scant and nonexistent,” but as we all know, that’s not entirely true. Even our very own former Purple Row boss-man Bryan Kilpatrick is highlighted as “Utah’s biggest Colorado Rockies fan” and leaves his mark on the piece.
In the end, it’s a fantastic read about an outsider’s perspective on something we locals may take for granted a little too often—our proximity and loyalty to one of the most beautiful stadiums in America and funnest teams in the game of baseball. Go Rockies!