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Have you heard? Nolan Arenado is very good at baseball

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Rockies news and links for Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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Stark: Nolan Arenado is the best player in the National League. Why hasn’t anyone noticed? | The Athletic ($)

Thank you, Jayson Stark. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. This is the kind of article you can send to your extended family, dentist, or strangers on social media anytime that unseemly “C” word is used with negative bias against Nolan Arenado—I am of course talking about “Coors.” In this article, Jayson breaks down most arguments traditionally used to devalue Rockies players and explains why there should be a shift in understanding just how great some of the greatest Rockies actually are—especially Arenado.

When it’s all said and done, Jayson comes to the conclusion that Arenado is in fact the best player in the National League. This in large part comes from MLB Network’s recent “100 Best Players in Baseball,” but there is a clear thought process and analytical approach to showing why it is true. He also captures Nolan’s humble attitude and commitment to just being the best player he can be, and just how liked he is inside the Rockies’ clubhouse. So next time you hear Coors Field bias used to discredit Nolan, simply share this article with a smile.

MANNY MACHADO WILL BE A PADRE | Gaslamp Ball

The biggest story in the NL West yesterday, and maybe in baseball, was of course the announcement of Bruce Bochy’s retirement—*presses finger to ear*—wait, no, I’m now hearing that was in fact not the biggest story. It looks like superstar free-agent Manny Machado finally signed a lucrative 10-year contract, and it’s with the division rival Padres.

How are they handling things over at Gaslamp Ball? Well, Roy Thomasson has an early reaction here with all of the pertinent details of the contract and how it will begin to affect their roster. The headline is in all caps, so I bet you can get a sense of how they’re feeling.

Nolan Arenado “wondering what’s out there” after Manny Machado agrees to record-setting deal | The Athletic ($)

After Machado signed with the Padres, Nolan Arenado reportedly found out about the deal from a fan who he was signing an autograph for. Nolan’s response was true to form: “Oh, OK.” Naturally, we’re all wondering what this means for our superstar third baseman, and as Nick Groke writes, he couldn’t help but wonder, too.

Arenado expressed many of his thoughts on his pending free agency to reporters while at Spring Training today. Groke has them laid out in his article, but they range from “I wonder if I could get that, also,” to “I want to be a Rockie for life,” and even “would a team really pay me to play ‘til I’m 37 years old?” Nolan is humble as always, but most importantly he is still focused on playing winning baseball and helping the Rockies chase their first division title in franchise history—with aspirations of a World Series championship, too.

With Bryce Harper rumored to be seriously courted by the San Francisco Giants, Groke also points out the NL West could be in the middle of an arms race for superior talent. Will the Rockies join the fray and make a statement by signing Nolan to an equally lucrative deal?

Arenado: Manny deal ‘really good for baseball’ | MLB.com

Thomas Harding has more on the Manny Machado deal and what it means for Nolan Arenado and the Rockies in this article, and offers even more of Nolan’s thought process on his contract negotiations. For one, Nolan is happy for Manny and thinks his contract with the Padres is “good for baseball.” As a comparable superstar who is about the same age and about to hit free agency, it might be good for baseball, but it’s certainly good for Nolan.

Seunghwan Oh is homesick, but the Rockies need him now | The Athletic ($)

Nick Groke hit another one out of the park (sorry) with this article on Seunghwan Oh and his emotional state as the 36 year old relief pitcher enters the twilight of his career. Oh had thoughts about returning to Korea to pitch in front of his home country fans and family, but was able to refocus on helping the Rockies in 2019.

He was a vital addition to the bullpen last season—helping bridge the gap from starters to closer Wade Davis after disastrous seasons from Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw—and will need to fulfill the same role, or more, now that Adam Ottavino is gone. Best of all, Groke shares Oh’s personal connection with Antonio Senzatela as two ESL pitchers with deep roots in their home countries and a nostalgia for being there. Luckily, both pitchers have a strong focus and desire to win, and plan on doing so with the Rockies.

Prospect Limbo: The Best of the Post-Prospects | FanGraphs

Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs has a list of the “best prospects who aren’t anymore,“ for 2019, and the Rockies have two entries. These are former prospects who have graduated from prospect status, but just because you’re a former prospect doesn’t mean you’re all set in the major leagues. Many will struggle to find playing time for a number of reasons, but this list is for those who may still have an impact for their clubs in the coming season.

For the Rockies, it’s Raimel Tapia and Jeff Hoffman. According to Eric, Raimel’s problem is two-fold—the Rockies insistence on playing Ian Desmond, and his lack of both power and plate discipline project him as below-average for OBP. He still has 50+ tool grades for defense, arm strength, speed, and hit, so the potential to be valuable is clearly still there.

Hoffman has had much more opportunity to prove himself at the big league level and for the most part has floundered, looking—as Eric describes—as a “shell of his former self.” However, Jeff has been working with Driveline, who was at the center of Adam Ottavino’s comeback last offseason, and has supposedly made very impactful tweaks to his delivery. He’s throwing very hard again and has a 60 tool grade fastball and curveball, so the stuff is there. The question is, will it finally translate to the majors? And if so, bullpen or rotation...?