As the Rockies get ready for the 2019 season, some things are starting to shake out with the team. One big question has been who will play at second base. There’s some real competition, with Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, and Brendan Rodgers are all looking good. Ryan McMahon has come out as something of a front runner, hitting well along with playing strong defense. He also has some more experience than either Hampson or Rodgers, giving him a slight edge. There might also be some games that we see Mark Reynolds and Daniel Murphy playing at second. Another question has been how Jon Gray will actually do this year. Kyle Freeland and German Marquez have both impressed, but the Rockies are hoping for more from the rest of the rotation. Gray is one of the biggest question marks, as he was expected to be an ace but fell apart. He claims that he’s been working hard in the offseason to build his strength as well as his confidence. He’s looked alright in his appearances so far, but the question remains if he can hold up in the regular season. Raimel Tapia is another player to ponder. It’s make or break time for Tapia, as he is out of minor league options. Standing in his way is Ian Desmond, who has the upper hand with the huge contract. Finally, Nolan Arenado hasn’t had a wonderful spring so far, but never fear, this does not mean anything for the Rockies. He’s one of the most consistent players out there, so a lackluster spring training doesn’t mean much.
In Wednesday’s spring training game, Jon Gray threw four shutout innings, with five strikeouts and just one hit. Even with this kind of performance, he says this was just his “B- or C stuff.” Gray seems to be more confident and prepared. He feels his offseason work will payoff. He’s worked on his mechanics, getting back to the basics. One of his big issues in 2018 was getting into his own head, and the hope is that this simplification of pitching will keep him level and focused. All we can hope is that Gray can carry this into the regular season.
Ken Rosenthal details how exactly the Nolan Arenado contract shook out, from Dick Monfort and Jeff Bridich flying in to bumping into Reggie Jackson, another of Arenado’s agent, Joel Wolfe’s, clients. We know the details of the contract, and some of how it came to be, but it’s intriguing to get this behind-the-scenes look at the thought processes and contemplation that went into signing a real star.
There’s a lot riding on the 25-man roster decision this year. One factor is who still has minor league options. Raimel Tapia, Tom Murphy, and Carlos Estevez have all run out of options and are still vying for a spot on the team. Tapia seems to have the most likely opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, after giving it his all in the minors and showing glimpses of what he can do at Coors Field. Carlos Estevez is an impressive young player, but he has struggled to stay healthy. He’s looking strong so far in spring training, but he’s got a lot of competition for a spot in the rotation. Tom Murphy will provide a hard decision. Bud Black has stated that they won’t have three catchers, so it’s up to Murphy and Tony Wolters to earn the second spot behind Chris Iannetta. Murphy has had a good start offensively, but Black is waiting to see his defensive abilities. There’s still three weeks left, plenty of time to prove things, but these are still likely to be tough decisions.
Bryan Shaw has had a rough go of it so far with the Rockies. He signed a huge contract, then didn’t do too much of anything in the 2018 season. He’s spent the offseason working his way back to being the reliable pitcher he was with Indians. His spring training performance thus far hasn’t really shown much improvement, though. As we know, spring training numbers don’t really mean much, and it’s more about getting everything ready. Bud Black has faith in him, seeing someone who’s healthy and strong. Shaw seems to have the confidence, but we’ll see if it can translate into some real improvement for 2019.
The Rockies defeated the Cubs 7-5 in Thursday’s spring training game. Antonio Senzatela had a hard time with his command, but Wade Davis came in and closed strong. Mike Dunn also pitched well, good news after shoulder surgery. David Dahl was hot at bat, going 3-3. Garrett Hampson got the shortstop spot, hitting a home run, his third this spring.