The offseason can be judged for weeks and months by casual fans, paid pundits, and even supercomputers, with nothing to show for it but battered egos and lively arguments. You can judge the Rockies offseason any way you like, from ceremoniously unsuccessful to confidently conservative, but one thing is for sure—it has been quiet. Luke Zahlmann of Mile High Sports argues there are three areas of the team affected most by the impasse.
Luke includes the outfield as an area negatively affected by the Rockies quiet offseason. It’s true, they didn’t add any impactful names into the mix after losing 2018 stalwarts such as Carlos González, Gerardo Parra, and Matt Holliday. I consider it addition by subtraction—where aging veterans are gone, young talent can emerge. The same can be said for the bullpen if guys like DJ Johnson or Justin Lawrence get a chance to show their stuff, too.
The Rockies will mostly rely on David Dahl to make up for production lost to free agency, and will be smart to do so. David looks healthy and is in line for a breakout season, while Raimel Tapia will see playing time throughout the year as the dynamic 4th outfielder who can give Desmond or Blackmon a day of rest when they need it. Raimel is also having a productive camp, with 5 of 12 hits going for extra bases and 12 RBI. The future is now!
Thomas Harding has some news: Speedy Leg Boy is no longer a Rockie. Yes, the sad truth is that Quad-A phenom Mike Tauchman, who slashed .323/.408/.571 in Albuquerque last year and was the team’s MVP, but went only 3-for-32 at the major league level, was traded to the East Coast Rockies. Mike was trapped in a purgatory of too good for Triple-A but not good enough to replace anyone on the 25-man roster.
It certainly seems to be a move that is best for everyone involved. In exchange, the Rockies received 24 year old left-handed relief pitcher Phillip Diehl, who in 75.1 IP last season had an impressive 2.51 ERA, 12.9 K/9, and 1.04 WHIP. Phillip will start the year in Triple-A, but could be in line for MLB innings soon as much needed LHP depth (see: Jake McGee).
In other roster news, Pat Valaika and Carlos Estevez were both sent down to the minors to start the year, while Mark Reynolds and DJ Johnson were told by Bud Black they will be on the Opening Day roster.
With the regular season about to begin, and some decent sample sizes of stats and data taking shape out of Spring Training (whether you buy into it or not), Patrick Saunders is ready to release his bold predictions, red flags, and hot takes for 2019. Well, they are more like pretty warm takes and mild predictions, but you get the gist of it.
Saunders makes a very good point that the Rockies will have a tough go of things to begin the year, as 20 of the first 33 games are on the road. This team should have confidence away from Coors Field, though, having set a franchise record for road wins last year with 44. Still, as the saying goes, “you can’t win a pennant in April, but you can lose it,” and the Rockies will need to come out of the gates strong if they want a shot at the NL West title.
On Friday night, Chad Bettis was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres due to neck stiffness. Thomas Harding reports it should only sideline him for a few days and not affect his ability to be ready for the regular season—but it’s something to keep an eye on. If Bettis were to miss any significant time this year, Antonio Senzatela (also currently injured) and Jeff Hoffman will be waiting in the wings.
Lastly, Aaron Hurt of Rox Pile declares the Nolan-hitting-second experiment has failed, and it’s time to let it go. I agree with him because it just doesn’t seem worth it to A) remove more consistent RBI opportunities from the man who leads all of baseball in RBI the last four seasons for the sake of 30 or so more at-bats in a year, and B) also move Nolan to a spot he is less comfortable hitting the ball. Of course, Bud might trot out a lineup card here or there with Nolan in the two-hole, but I hope they’re far and few between.