In an article that is sure to induce mixed reactions, Nick Groke writes about Ian Desmond’s role in center field for the Rockies, and how Ian’s lack of experience is being balanced by a sudden offensive resurgence. Ian is blunt in his comments to Groke, and goes as far as to say, “this isn’t something that comes naturally to me,” and “I don’t have a ton of instincts out there.” Not exactly the kind of thing you love to hear from one of the “everyday guys.”
Like it says in Nick’s piece, Desi is trying to give himself some grace regarding his transition to the outfield, and so is Bud Black—due in large part to Ian’s hot bat, particularly against left-handed pitchers. Entering play Saturday, Ian was slashing .337/.378/.692 with a 157 wRC+ and eight of his eleven home runs against LHP. It’s a good line to have in the lineup.
It’s a case of taking the bad with the good. But how much bad can the Rockies take? In 534+ innings this year, Ian has a -14 DRS and -2.8 Def. In a 4-2 loss to the Astros, we saw how his defense almost single-handedly lost the game. If you’re into fWAR, Ian is at 0.6, so technically the good has outweighed the bad. It’s hard to know if that’ll keep up, but the Rockies will need it to if they want to stay relevant in the NL Wild Card chase.
Woody Paige is pretty critical of Jeff Bridich and the contracts he’s handed out to Ian Desmond and Daniel Murphy (and Mark Reynolds) in this piece, and is even more scathing toward both middle-infielders-turned-first-basemen’s defensive abilities.
Paige says Desmond in center field is where “doubles go to live,” and “every fly ball is a mishap waiting to occur,” while Murphy “has the limited range of a basset hound on a leash and the scoop of a clam digger.” Ouch. As he points out, the Rockies are currently tied for eighth in defense (he doesn’t cite which stat, but a little investigating finds that he’s citing fielding percentage in this case, so... meh), and traditionally they’re much higher.
His biggest point, though, is that the Rockies need some help from outside the organization if they want to compete for a playoff spot. I don’t think that is a disputed argument at this point, but I wouldn’t say their defensive talent (or lack of) is the best catalyst for it either. If the Rockies plan on making a move, they should take a long look at their pitching staff, first.
Thomas Harding has the scoop on Kyle Freeland nearing a return to the Rockies rotation, and it sounds like it could come following the All-Star break. Kyle’s last start in Triple-A was a beaut—he pitched seven innings of one run ball, gave up four hits and two walks, and struck out nine. His overall numbers during his stint in Albuquerque do not look good, but Bud Black assures us it is about the process more than it is the results.
Amid the chatter that the Rockies need to add a starting pitcher by the trade deadline, having Kyle Freeland return to something near his 2018 self would certainly fill that hole. It would be huge if he allowed the front office to focus their attention elsewhere to improve the team before August, and having the hometown kid succeed again would certainly bring some feel-good fuzzies to an up-and-down season.
Speaking of up-and-down, how about Antonio Senzatela’s year so far? Thomas Harding discusses what has worked for Antonio and what hasn’t, with help from Bud Black. Harding also suggests the Rockies will rely on Senza to be better if they have any hope of making the Postseason. I wouldn’t say he is that key to their season’s success, but he could certainly tip odds in their favor if he finds consistency.
On the farm
Rockies affiliates went 6-1 on Saturday, thanks in large part to many great pitching lines. Will Gaddis highlights the outings after pitching eight scoreless innings for Lancaster, giving up just four hits and striking out four. At the rookie level, Mitchell Kilkenny continued his return from Tommy John surgery by pitching five scoreless innings and allowed three hits and one walk while striking out three.
Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 7, Trenton Thunder 6
Short Season-A: Tri-City Dust Devils 2, Boise Hawks 1
DSL 1: DSL Colorado 2, DSL Giants 1
DSL 2: DSL Rockies 5, DSL Mets1 3