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How would the Rockies recover if Thanos snapped away half their roster?

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An experiment in extreme roster construction shows how the Rockies could compete for the NL West

Last Sunday, my eyes were glued to the television. I bet a lot of yours were, too. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and a champion was going to be crowned, but I was thinking less about football and more about a particular commercial about to air. I admit it, I’m a total Marvel nerd, and I was eagerly awaiting the newest Avengers: Endgame movie trailer.

For those unfamiliar with the prefacing storyline, the mad titan Thanos defeats the Avengers with his overwhelming powers and uses the Infinity Gauntlet to suddenly wipe away exactly half of mankind with a snap of his fingers. Just like that, with little effort, Thanos is instantly victorious yet again. It reminds me of a certain perennial NL West powerhouse.

Avengers: Endgame is sure to be an exhilarating ride. We will see how the world copes with the sudden and random disappearance of half of humanity—known as the Decimation—and what people will do in order to fix their seemingly broken lives. In fact, in the trailer we see an abandoned Citi Field in New York, and it got me thinking—what would happen to baseball after The Decimation? How would teams manage?

Then it really hit me—Thanos would obviously be a Dodgers fan, so what would happen if he picked on the Rockies and snapped away half their roster at random, leaving Jeff Bridich with 12 positions to fill right as the baseball season is getting underway? How would life go on? The Rockies would have to find a way to seek revenge by rebuilding their team—just like the Avengers—in order to defeat the Dodgers, the rest of the NL West, and win a title.

So let’s run through it. It will be a roster construction extravaganza, and practice in considering what to do should unexpected injuries arise in 2019. The Rockies will need to be resilient and aggressive to dethrone the Dodgers, and should take advice from Thanos himself: Be sure to go for the head.

★ ★ ★

To settle some technicalities, 25 is an odd number and can’t be halved, so I will be snapping away 12 players at random, leaving 13 lucky souls in purple pinstripes. I will be using a random selection generator and have absolutely no say in who stays and who goes. I will not try and keep an equal amount of pitchers or position players—they all have the same odds of being dusted. I will use my personal roster projection below, and the Rockies can pick from internal candidates or any currently available free agents to fill the vacancies.

Rockies projected 25-man roster

Rotation: Bullpen:
Rotation: Bullpen:
Kyle Freeland Wade Davis Mike Dunn
German Marquez Scott Oberg Chris Rusin
Jon Gray Jake McGee Bryan Shaw
Tyler Anderson Seunghwan Oh Antonio Senzatela
Chad Bettis
Infield: Outfield: Catchers:
Nolan Arenado Charlie Blackmon Chris Iannetta
Trevor Story David Dahl Tony Wolters
Daniel Murphy Ian Desmond
Ryan McMahon Raimel Tapia
Garrett Hampson
Mark Reynolds

And now, without further ado, Thanos will snap away half the Rockies roster at random.

★ ★ ★

SNAP

★ ★ ★

I don’t feel so good, Mr. Bridich…

And just like that, like dust through the fingers, 12 Rockies were gone. Gone but not forgotten, just unusable on the baseball diamond now. Those unlucky 12 no longer with us are:

Jon Gray
Chad Bettis
Wade Davis
Mike Dunn
Scott Oberg
Seunghwan Oh
Chris Iannetta
Tony Wolters
Garrett Hampson
Trevor Story
David Dahl
Raimel Tapia

Some immediate thoughts: Trevor is the biggest loss, Dahl didn’t make it (of course), at least we won’t have to have the “is Gray an ace?” conversation anymore, the bullpen took quite a hit, and maybe Thanos has already snapped Raimel Tapia.

Now let’s take a look at who the Rockies are left with:

Rockies who survived the Snap

Rotation: Bullpen:
Rotation: Bullpen:
Kyle Freeland Jake McGee
German Marquez Chris Rusin
Tyler Anderson Bryan Shaw
Antonio Senzatela
Infield: Outfield:
Nolan Arenado Charlie Blackmon
Daniel Murphy Ian Desmond
Ryan McMahon
Mark Reynolds

The biggest plus is that we still have our “Captain America” in this situation—Nolan Arenado. We can look at our rotation with a relative sigh of relief, and curse the gods you choose to curse that even in this scenario Ian Desmond will get 600 plate appearances. There’s some good veteran presence (Nolan, Chuck, Mark Reynolds, Daniel Murphy), Ryan McMahon will finally get his shot, and oh yeah, we need to grab a couple of catchers...

After thinking it over, here’s what I’d do to rebuild a reasonably competitive Rockies roster using internal promotions and free agent signings.

Starting rotation

Again, we got pretty lucky here, folks. Freeland and Márquez will return to anchor the rotation coming off career years. Anderson finished with an okay season but was a reliable workhorse lefty.

My first thought is to go out and get former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. The Rockies would have a veritable three-headed monster of lefties, and Keuchel is coming off a strong, under the radar age 31 season in which he posted a 3.69 FIP.

To round out the rotation, I would simply move Antonio Senzatela back to the starting five (which may happen anyway). He had 73 quality innings pitched as a starter in 2018 and has added to his pitch repertoire. Even before the snap, many believe he deserves the 5th spot in the rotation above Bettis, so any injury to Chad (like getting dusted) would open the door for Antonio to steal his role. Plus, it’s a good way to save some money.

Bullpen

This is going to take some work. As you remember, our best relief arms were snapped away, Senzatela left for the rotation, and we are left with Jake McGee, Chris Rusin, and Bryan Shaw. Since Bud Black typically rolls with eight arms in the pen, we need to find five productive options to supplement the remaining few. Luckily, as Jeff Aberle mentioned recently in his recent post about the state of the Rockies system, “there’s basically an entire bullpen of high upside arms” currently in the minors.

In trying to keep a balanced approach, the immediate call-ups that come to mind are Jeff Hoffman and Justin Lawrence (no. 15 PuRP), who recently had a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League. Hoffman has had a roller coaster career in the big leagues, but if he can harness his fastball and curveball potential, he could be a major threat out of the pen. Additionally, Yency Almonte would make my bullpen, as he was impressive in limited action in 2018.

This leaves us in need of two more free agent relievers. Many might jump to sign Craig Kimbrel as an easy solution to save games in Wade Davis’ absence, but I’m going to save my money. There are value arms to be had in a slow moving market, and one of the first names I’d look into signing is lefty Adam Liberatore. Adam was limited by injuries the past two seasons, but when healthy has had success as a strikeout-an-inning reliever. He could come at a major discount in order to make a name for himself again on a new team.

Lastly, I’d take a waiver on Sergio Romo. He has a proven history of success at the major league level (2.86 career ERA) and is coming off a strong season with Tampa Bay. It would be a coming home party, of sorts, for Sergio, as he attended Grand Junction’s Colorado Mesa University in 2005 and was named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Catchers

After Thanos snapped the Rockies, they were left without a single catcher on the roster. Some might say it’s a blessing in disguise, though. Catcher was one of the worst positions for offensive production last year, and this will offer an opportunity to wipe the slate clean.

The free agent market isn’t exactly ripe with offensive threats at catcher, though, now that J.T. Realmuto is gone. It would really come down to Matt Wieters or Martin Maldonado. Neither is going to strike fear into pitchers while standing in the batter’s box anymore, but both are serviceable and as good as, or better than, what we’ve gotten used to.

I would sign Maldonado. He’s been consistent the last three years in terms of wRC+ (74, 73, and 78 in ‘18, ‘17, and ‘16) and probably offers the best defense behind the plate. According to Andrew Simon of MLB.com, Maldonado threw out 17 of 35 would-be base-stealers, leading MLB at a 48.6% rate in ‘18, and “averaged the third-hardest throw velocity (87.5 mph) and eighth-fastest pop time (1.97 seconds).” He would replace Wolters’ defensive capability while still adding a bit more with his bat, too.

For a back-up catcher, I’d simply call up Tom Murphy. He has always had the potential to be a hitting weapon, and this could be his opportunity to get some consistent playing time again.

Infielders

The infield is where we came out the least affected by Thanos’s Snap, as three of four projected starters remain with the club. We lost Story, though, and his potential 30-30 shoes are not easy to fill. Again, I think it would be easy to jump straight to signing Manny Machado, but I’m still going to save that big contract for someone else. No, I would turn to the Rockies best prospect (no. 10 overall in baseball), Brendan Rodgers.

Brendan has flown through the minor league system with ease but has had some dips in production that can be attributed to his battle with both a hamstring injury and shoulder tightness at the end of last year. It would be nice to give him more time in Albuquerque to adjust to higher competition, but given the circumstances, I will rush him along and give him every chance to succeed starting at shortstop for the 2019 Rockies.

To shore up the infield and add some versatility, I’d also sign Marwin González (which may be a good idea with or without Thanos). He would add insurance in case Rodgers doesn’t work out at SS and have the ability to decently play almost every other position and give guys a day of rest when they need it.

Outfielders

All right, it’s time to make a splash. It’s wild to think about, but Bryce Harper is still available as a free agent as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. Our offseason spending has been relatively light so far, relative to half a team suddenly disappearing, so I’d add this generational talent on anything from an expensive one or two year deal, to a long-term nine or ten year contract. It’s a no-hesitation signing for me.

This leaves us with one final spot on the roster for a 4th outfielder. With Blackmon likely moving to left field, and Harper in right field now, I’d look to add an outfielder to compete with Ian Desmond. It would be fun to consider Carlos González for the job, but I can’t rely on just Desmond (and maybe Marwin) to play center. That’s why I would sign Adam Jones to patrol the Coors Field expanses.

I even considered promoting Yonathan Daza (no. 14 PuRP) to the squad, thanks to his speed and defensive tools, and he’s coming off a successful season in Double-A, but his lack of major league experience pushed me toward Jones, instead. Adam has been under scrutiny for being “in decline,” but has still managed to maintain at least league average production, in terms of wRC+, since 2009.

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Well, I did it. After Thanos snapped away half of the Rockies 25-man roster at random ahead of the 2019 season, I managed to put together a very capable, exciting team to compete for the NL West title (I think!) against the mad titan’s Dodgers. I had to spend a little money, but to keep the Rockies in contention, it’s worth spending Dick Monfort’s money.

To summarize, here is how the Rockies end up looking:

SP: Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Dallas Keuchel, Tyler Anderson, Antonio Senzatela

RP: Jeff Hoffman, Chris Rusin, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Yency Almonte, Justin Lawrence, Adam Liberatore, Sergio Romo

C: Martin Maldonado

1B: Daniel Murphy

2B: Ryan McMahon

3B: Nolan Arenado

SS: Brendan Rodgers

LF: Charlie Blackmon

CF: Ian Desmond

RF: Bryce Harper

Bench: Mark Reynolds, Marwin Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Tom Murphy

Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. All things considered, it’s a team that can put a winning product on the field more often than not. Thanos thought he could come in here and destroy the Rockies chances of competing with Los Angeles for their first division title in franchise history, but he was wrong.

I used a mix of home-grown talent and available free agents to create a formidable roster in a pinch. What do you think of it? What would you have done differently? How might you slot the rotation, one through five, or build a batting order? Let me know what you think in the comments, and thanks for having fun with me in this crazy experiment of mine.

Now, I have only one thing to say: Purple Rowers, assemble!