As if overseeing and calling the shots for the bullpen of the Colorado Rockies wasn’t challenging enough, manager Bud Black is not looking forward for the MLB’s new 2020 rule that dictates that pitchers must face at least three batters or finish a half inning.
The Post’s Patrick Saunders notes that other managers like Joe Maddon aren’t excited about it either because it is going to throw wrinkles into late-game strategy, cancel the opportunity of desired specific matchups, and potentially cause an uptick in individual pitch counts, which could then change how many relievers will be available each day. According to Saunders, Black said, “I don’t want to go into massive detail, but … it’s going to change how we use our bullpen, for sure.”
The purpose of the rule is another step to speed up games. Everyone can appreciate that, but many managers, and I would assume relievers, are concerned about how it could change the game. While some teams might factor the new rules into how they build their bullpens, General Manager Jeff Bridich said that the Rockies won’t “overhaul” the bullpen without first seeing what the results are from the new rule.
So, Bud Black will have to hope the relief arms he has are up to the task as he calculates a new and evolving strategy of how to get more out of a bullpen that ranked No. 29 last season, according to FanGraphs.
After celebrating the 3-year, $13 million extension on Wednesday, Rockies fans can now speculate on whether Scott Oberg will take over as the closer and what the bullpen will look like in 2020 and beyond. The deal, along with reports that Oberg is recovering from blood clot surgery he had in August and will be getting off blood thinners this week, shows that the Rockies believe the 29-year-old reliever is healthy, should be in action in spring training, and will lead the bullpen next season.
As Nick Groke points out, drafting and developing pitchers seems to be the present and future of Rockies pitching. Oberg was drafted by the Rockies in 2012 and has been in the bullpen since 2015, really shining over the last two seasons. Groke reports that manager Bud Black isn’t ready to label Oberg as the closer yet, saying “I’m going to let that play out.”
If finding a veteran catcher to join Tony Wolters to handle the duties behind the plate, the Rockies have made a move, even if it is a predictable one. On Wednesday, the New York Post reported that Drew Butera signed a minor league deal with the Rockies. The former Rockies catcher, who has gone back and forth from the minors to the 40-man roster, including late-season call-ups the last two seasons, will now be at spring training and competing for a roster spot.
This is predictable because the Rockies often stick with guys they know and it is a low-risk addition. Butera, 36, was great in Triple-A last year, hitting .300/.389/.511 with nine homers and 40 RBI. He struggled after returning to the Rockies in September, hitting .163/.229/.233 in a limited 49 plate appearances.
The Rockies still have Dom Nunez on the 40-man roster as well, and he’ll be vying for time behind the plate as well. Nunez only played in 16 games with 39 at bats in 2019 for the Rockies, hitting .179/.233/.410 with seven hits, two of which were homers and three of which were doubles. He also struck out 17 times. He still has a lot of learning to do and experience to get at the top level. For Triple-A Albuquerque, he hit .244/.362/.559 with 17 homers, 42 RBI, and 43 runs scored in 61 games.
Roxpile’s Noah Yingling believes that the Rockies will still trade for or sign another catcher this offseason for more competition, and hopefully more production from the position in 2020.
It just seems like this one won’t go away. Nolan Arenado is amazing. He’s on his way to a Hall of Fame career and talks of the G.O.A.T. are in the works. It’s understandable that other teams want him. So, apparently, we are going to continue to be bombarded with stories about how teams are asking, and even if the Rockies are not instigating, they might be listening.
That being said, even this report starts with the fact: “The chances of a Nolan Arenado trade are slim.”
The Dodgers want him. If not L.A., then the Nationals, after losing Anthony Rendon to the Angels, want him. Or the Braves or Rangers. Who wouldn’t want Nolan? That leads us to the real question: Are the Rockies really stupid enough to do it or have they given up the optimistic hope they’ve been peddling all offseason that they are close to being contenders?
Even though we’ve been getting nothing but good news on Brendan Rodgers’s recovery from season-ending shoulder surgery on July 16, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be 100 percent by spring training or even opening day. This is mostly precautionary, as Thomas Harding writes, due to the Rockies’ concerns about rushing their top prospect back to action too soon.
According to Colorado General ManagerJeff Bridich, the team would much rather take it slow and make sure Rodgers is 100 percent healed and ready to be the promising player the organization believes he is. Having Daniel Murphy and Ryan McMahon on the right side of the infield, and Garrett Hampson as well, gives the Rockies options until Rodgers is ready to compete for a spot at second base in earnest.
Patrick Saunders wrote about the same message from Bridich for the Denver Post (paywall).
In other winter meeting news, Colorado native and former Grandview High School star (Centennial, Colo.) Kevin Gausman has signed a one-year, $9 million deal with the Giants. While getting guys from altitude to pitch at Coors Field seems like a great idea, that’s an expensive price tag that is out of reach for the Rockies, and Gausman hasn’t been at altitude since he graduated from high school in 2010. Since then, the 28-year-old has spent seven years pitching for the Orioles, Braves, and Reds, amassing a 47-63 record in 154 starts with a 4.30 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. I am not sure the Rockies are missing out here.
Next up on Thursday at the winter meetings is the Rule 5 draft that kicks off at noon ET. Only teams who don’t have a complete 40-man roster are eligible to pick. The Rockies currently have a full 40-man roster, along with five other teams (Padres, Mets, Cardinals, Indians, and Yankees). The Rockies a slotted in the No. 9 spot if they make any changes. More likely, Colorado will be hoping that no one picks up their four top 30 eligible prospects: right-handed pitchers Robert Tyler and Reid Humphreys, outfielder Daniel Montano, and first baseman Roberto Ramos.
Will Leitch has some interesting things in here, mostly about how the Yankees seem poised to be dynasty building after missing the World Series for a decade. Even more depressing is that two of the items in the list include Madison Bumgarner possibly becoming a Dodger very soon and Mookie Betts joining him in Los Angeles in the 2021 season. There are also multiple reports of talks between L.A. and Francisco Lindor. Unless you are a Dodger fan, that’s a scary vision for the future of the NL West, and National League all together.