Starting in left field for your Colorado Rockies: Raimel Tapia, Sam Hilliard or Ian Desmond.
Thomas Harding puts together a great analysis of the three and their chances at cracking the lineup as an everyday starter. Charlie Blackmon moved from center to right field to “save wear and tear.” David Dahl took Desmond’s center field spot last July. Hilliard and Tapia both bat from the left side, Desmond from the right, and there’s a good chance left field could become a platoon position decided by the opposing starter.
FanGraphs released their 2020 ZiPS projections in early December, and Tapia was the only one of the three candidates with a projected WAR that wasn’t negative. A graphic on the projections also showed Hilliard in center field and Dahl in left, and it’s somewhat barbaric to run such a projection on a guy like Hilliard with under 100 career at-bats.
Against lefties, Desmond hit 20 batting average points above Tapia last year and 30 above Hilliard. 41 percent of Desmond’s at bats in 2019 were against left handers, and over half of his extra-base hits came off them. Hilliard’s sample sizes with those splits are, again, understandably small.
The question of an impending rebuild remains, and should the Rockies get off to a slow start this upcoming year, perhaps Desmond will be slowly phased out in favor of younger options to lead the team in years to come. Desmond faces a club option in 2022, and is the second oldest Rockies position player.
As Spring Training games get started, it will be interesting to see how Bud Black manages left field when a left-handed starter faces the Rockies. If a left-hander toes the rubber and either Tapia or Hilliard starts (or both, thanks to a designated hitter available in March), Black may be paying extra attention; likewise for Desmond facing righties. March could be the definitive take on which one of the three begins the season alongside a foreseeable Dahl and Blackmon in the outfield.
If you frequent Purple Row, there’s little in this USA Today article that you wouldn’t know already. It still acts as a good background and appropriately sums up the last few months by a national outlet.
There’s also a friendly reminder in this one that 36-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez hasn’t pitched in the big leagues for two years. His last MLB season came with Baltimore in 2017, in which he led all of baseball in earned runs given up. Age may not be the definitive factor of his demise—Justin Verlander is also 36—but Jimenez’s fastball has shown signs of age in comparison to his big league infancy. He’s been down about six MPH from 2007 to 2017, and his two-year big league absence leaves us wondering what the radar gun will read now.
“No trades, no free-agent signings, not even a Rule 5 selection.”
Jim Bowden of The Athletic tabs an offseason grade of “F” to the Rockies, a dreary winter furthered by a Nolan Arenado and Jeff Bridich feud. Bowden goes on to say it has been a “nightmare offseason.”
Mike Delgado, the game production manager for Hartford Yard Goats telecasts, has been labeled the Martin Scorsese of minor league baseball.
“The first time you click on a Hartford Yard Goats broadcast, you get the feel that you’re watching an MLB game.”
There’s a lot that goes into a quality television broadcast, and J.J. Cooper of Baseball America does a great job explaining all the intricacies that go into it. The number of cameras, the angle of the center field camera zoomed in on pitches, the on-screen graphics, the services of play-by-play and color commentators, and the work of the game directors are a small portion of a composed operation that can make even the most average of games appear like a masterpiece. Minor league resources are understandably more scarce than big league ones; broadcasts are no different, but the Yard Goats find a way to get it done.
Hartford has been able to assemble a staff with quality professional experience. The work of directors and production managers alike provide the broadcasts with a great feel of the game, and that ‘feel’ is paramount for game production. There’s little in a broadcast more painstaking for a viewer than having to watch multiple pitches from cameras other than the zoomed-in center field one, which, according to Cooper, is more common than some may think in the minors.