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Examining Matt Holliday’s future role for the Rockies organization

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Rockies news and links for August 9, 2018

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What is Matt Holliday going to do for the Colorado Rockies? | Rox Pile
On July 28, three days before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Colorado Rockies acquired a bat. But it wasn’t in the way many were expecting. Rather than swinging a trade, the Rox decided to bring back old friend Matt Holliday, signing him to a minor league deal. At the age of 38, Holliday was unable to find a job with a Major League team up until General Manager Jeff Bridich came calling. It undoubtedly makes for a great story, as Holliday had a wonderful tenure with the Rockies, the team that drafted him, from 2004-2008. In 2007, the only year in which the Rockies won the National League pennant, Holliday was the team MVP with a very nice 6.9 fWAR. But how much does he have left in the tank? Since 2015, Holliday has had a hard time staying healthy, and his production declined to its lowest level in 2017 with the New York Yankees, with a career-worst .320 wOBA. Holliday was limited to Designated Hitter for most of the 105 games he appeared in, only logging a handful of appearances at first base.

Currently, Holliday is laying waste to Pacific Coast League pitching with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. As Rox Pile’s Olivia Greene writes, it might be difficult to envision Holliday really being a good fit for the Rockies’ Major League roster, at least not before rosters expand in September.

BSN Rockies Podcast: How Colorado can best structure their roster down the stretch | BSN Denver
In the latest episode of the BSN Rockies podcast, Drew Creasman and Patrick Lyons also discuss the possibility of return to Denver for Holliday. Another topic of discussion is what the Rockies will do at the second base position in 2019. With prospects like Brendan Rodgers, Garrett Hampson, and Ryan McMahon all very capable, it wouldn’t be soul-crushing to see DJ LeMahieu depart in free agency. But Lyons wonders if the Rockies might be interested in extending a qualifying offer to their second baseman of the last 6 seasons.

Colorado Rockies: Lineup construction with David Dahl available | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Aaron Hurt explores various ways in which the Rockies can construct their lineup with David Dahl back in the big leagues. We’ve seen Dahl leading off, batting sixth, and batting third over his past three starts.

Hurt sees Dahl batting 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th to make the most sense. A 1-2 punch of Dahl and Charlie Blackmon (or vice versa), while moving LeMahieu to the seventh spot is a possibility. Blackmon and LeMahieu could also remain the 1-2 hitters with Dahl batting third or sixth. In these scenarios, the trifecta of Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, and Trevor Story would either bat just ahead of or just behind Dahl.

The Colorado Rockies sent down the wrong catcher | Rox Pile
To make room for starter Chad Bettis on the active roster, catcher Tom Murphy was optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday. This ended a long run of the Rockies carrying three catchers on the roster. Luke Mullins of Rox Pile believes that the incorrect catcher was sent down. Murphy was mired in a slump of 15 strikeouts in 21 at-bats before his demotion and Manager Bud Black would like to see him work on his defense in Albuquerque. In Sunday’s series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers, Murphy’s defensive miscues played a significant role in Adam Ottavino’s blown save. Nonetheless, Murphy has a history of battering Triple-A pitching and has had no shortage of power to display when he has been in the Majors. Murphy has also worked very well with Jon Gray since the starter returned from Triple-A. So, what about the other two catchers?

None of Murphy, Chris Iannetta, or Tony Wolters have been consistent threats offensively. Iannetta’s numbers in the batter’s box have been slightly better than the other two, while all defensive metrics would indicate Wolters is clearly the best backstop among the bunch. In terms of who has the highest ceiling, Murphy’s pedigree as a former top prospect would suggest he has the most potential value to offer to this team. Time will tell if the Rockies made a good decision.

Rockies are walking a thin line in this stretch run — it’s now pitch or bust in Colorado | The Athletic ($)
The Rockies are 3-7 in their last 10 games— not a prodigious stretch of baseball. The last two weeks have been marked by largely good starting pitching, while the offense has been lacking. Really, this has been the story for much of the season, as the pitching staff ranks 8th in MLB in fWAR, 11th in xFIP, and 6th in ERA-. The hitters, meanwhile, rank 23rd in baseball in fWAR, 26th in wRC+, and 21 in K%. While the Rockies’ recent road trip will be remembered for the trio of walk-off losses, the Rockies “were vulnerable to walk-offs because they never pulled away,” writes Nick Groke of The Athletic.

Arenado said that it was on the entire team to step up, and included himself as part of the problem, as he often does. It appears that the Rockies are on a “pitch or bust” trajectory as they head towards the end of the season. Pitching can be a recipe for postseason success, but the Rockies need to get there first. And if the Rockies continue collectively playing like they have over the past 10 games, they will continue to see their postseason aspirations slip away.

Shaw healthy, earning Black’s trust again | Rockies.com
In his eight games since returning from the Disabled List, Bryan Shaw has pitched to a 2.25 ERA. Lately, Shaw’s appearances have largely come in games where the Rockies were trailing, but his solid performances are slowly earning back Black’s trust. In addition to providing quotes from Black on Shaw’s adjustments, Thomas Harding of MLB.com provides injury updates on Chris Rusin and Antonio Senzatela.

History Watch: Five unheard-of baseball feats that we could see in the 2018 season | The Athletic ($)
Every now and then, Jayson Stark of The Athletic collects notes from “The Useless Info Department” or “History Watch.” These are tremendously fun reads, and his most recent article is no exception. Mike Trout, Jose Ramirez, Matt Carpenter, and Joey Votto are all on their way to making history in 2018 (and Votto is entering rarefied on-base company also held by Todd Helton).

On the current Rockies’ roster, Arenado is trying to join Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, and Ken Griffey Jr. as the fourth player in MLB history to join the 3+ Home Run titles and 6+ Gold Gloves club. But that’s not all! Nolan is also trying to become the second player ever (after Griffey) to record 120+ RBI and a Gold Glove Award in four straight seasons.

Hurdle remembers friend, inspiration Baylor | Rockies.com
August 7 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Don Baylor, the very first Rockies’ manager. With the Pittsburgh Pirates in town, MLB.com’s Owen Perkins spoke to current Bucs (and former Rockies) manager Clint Hurdle about the impact Baylor had on him. Baylor gave Hurdle his very first coaching opportunity, a deed for which Hurdle is “forever grateful.”