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Nolan Arenado Drive: All-Star honored by hometown with renamed street

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Sunday, February 9, 2020

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New Nolan Arenado Drive honors Lake Forest’s own Major League Baseball star | Orange County Register

Nolan Arenado Drive sounds like a familiar line from Drew Goodman, but now it means even more than a line-drive double or a field-exiting homer.

Arenado got some well-deserved love from his hometown of Lake Forest, Calif. on Saturday when the town named a street — Nolan Arenado Drive — for the All-Star third baseman going into Lake Forest Sports Park. Arenado and his family, at least 100 Little Leaguers, and even the town’s mayor attended the ceremony, which was a first for the city in terms of naming the street after someone contemporary.

Arenado is adored in his hometown. He helped his El Toro High school win a state championship and they have since retired his number. This article has some great quotes from Nolan and his mom, Millie Arenado, as well as some great pictures of the sign and Nolan hanging out with fans.

It’s good to see Nolan getting things like this. The Rockies front office should take notice.

Reason for Hope at Coors Field? Rockies on the Offensive — Good Times & Bad | Inside the Seams

Tracy Ringolsby is in the midst of writing a series focused on where Rockies fans can find hope heading into spring training. The first one in the series was centered on injured players from 2019 that should be healthy in 2020. The second focused on the bullpen and didn’t really make me feel hopeful after rehashing problems of 2019 without many solutions.

In this the third installment, Ringolsby focuses on the offense, bringing in stats to show that even though the 2018 team won earned the second-straight postseason berth and won the Wild Card game, the 2019 squad actually put up better numbers: a .265 team batting average (compared to .256 in 2019), 835 runs scored (compared to 780), 224 homers — who didn’t have more homers last season? — (compared to 210), 803 RBI (compared to 748), and 323 doubles (compared to 280). These numbers put the Rockies in the top tier of offenses in the National League.

Ringolsby points out that the Rockies also hit better with runners in scoring position with a .277 batting average in 2019 vs. .259 in 2018.

So that’s definitely a hopeful lens. You could argue that the team needed more offensive production to make up for the shear amount of runs that were given up from starters and the bullpen alike. Another downside is that there were two areas where the 2019 team did significantly worse: walks and strikeouts. In 2018, the Rockies drew 507 walks, while striking out 1,397 times. In 2019, they walked 18 fewer times (489) and struck out 106 more times (1,503).

In 2020, the offensive stars should continue to shine in Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, and hopefully Ryan McMahon. It’s the first base, left field, and catching spots that need to be more consistent in being productive assets in the lineup instead of a lot of outs.

Kiszla: Nolan Arenado stuck with Team Turmoil, at least until the Rockies crumble | Denver Post ($)

If you are tired of hearing about the hope and reading optimistic takes on the Rockies heading into spring training, then this Mark Kiszla column is for you.

To sum it up, Kiszla explains that he thinks the loser of the offseason drama and lack of any major change will be Bud Black, as he will have to deal with the media and scrutiny when the Rockies inevitably fail in 2020, maybe as soon as the end of April. Black will get the blame, Nolan Arenado could be gone, and Jeff Bridich will come away unscathed because fans will fill the seats and Dick Monfort will make money. If money is all that matters, then winning doesn’t matter, and nor will there be consequences for Bridich’s bad deals and relationship-busting expertise.

Merriman brings high-tech approach to Rockies | MLB.com

With a bullpen that needs a help and a yet-to-be determined starting rotation with young arms and pitchers looking to bounce back from rocky performances in 2019, the Rockies made changes to the pitching staff in November, letting go of bullpen coach Darren Holmes and replacing him with Daryl Scott. Steve Merriman, who was the pitching coach for the Double-A Yard Goats in 2019, was promoted to Scott’s old post of one of the organization’s Minor League pitching coordinators.

Thomas Harding’s article praises Merriman as a lifelong learner, one who embraces technology and has ever since his start in coaching at the University of Michigan and through his stops with the Royals and Cubs. Pitchers Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland, as well as pitching coach Steve Foster, compliment Merriman’s teaching style and tech savvy. This seems like very good news for the pitching future of the Rockies.

After promising debut, look for outfielder Sam Hilliard to continue his breakout at Rockies spring training | Denver Post ($)

After getting called up in late August when the Rockies were well out of contention, Sam Hilliard answered that call in a big way with seven homers, 13 RBI, 13 runs scored, and nine walks in 87 plate appearances.

This offseason, he’s been training, he’s put on 15 pounds that he lost in 2019, and he’s getting tips from former Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe. He’s doing everything he can to keep the power surge going this spring as he enters spring training vying for a starting spot in that left field, even if the plan is to have left field patrolled by committee with Raimel Tapia and Ian Desmond.

In this feature, Kyle Newman shows how eager Hilliard is to become a big part of the team, but also shows his humble attitude in wanting to do whatever he can to help the team win. It ends with a quote about Hilliard’s dad, Jim, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS, two years ago. Hilliard reports that his dad is “hanging in there” and will be cheering his son on at spring training and hopefully in Denver as well.

Rockies Insider: Comparing Colorado’s offseason to the rest of the National League West | Denver Post ($)

In this recap of the offseason, we are reminded of how things look heading into 2020. Here is a recap of the recap:

The Rockies still have spent $0 in major league free agency and are still the only team that can say that.

The Dodgers were good last year and got better by bringing Mookie Betts and David Price onboard.

The Diamondbacks got Madison Bumgardner and got better.

The Padres shored up their bullpen, made several trades, and still have Manny Machado.

The Giants have a new manager and are rebuilding.

Drafting an NL West super team to take on the Dodgers: Who wins? | The Athletic ($)

The Dodgers have won seven straight NL West titles. They went to the World Series in 2017 and 2018. They won 106 games last year and just got Mookie Betts and David Price to try to retain their NL West dominance and actually win the big one in 2020. So the Athletic decided to play a fun game of looking at the best of the NL West and seeing how they measure up against the perennial NL West winners. Basically, if there was an NL West All-Star team made up of the best players from the Rockies, Diamondbacks, Padres, and Giants, could they beat the Dodgers?

In order to try to answer that question, the writers used 2019 WAR and ZiPS projections for 2020 from FanGraphs to assess each position. With those stats and predictions, the answer is no. The Dodgers still win with an fWAR of 54.1, while the rest of the West stars come in at 51.7.

The Rockies win over the Dodgers, and the rest of the NL West for that matter, at shortstop with Trevor Story over Corey Seager, with Nick Groke writing “Story is the best shortstop in baseball,” and third base with Nolan Arenado over Justin Turner, with Groke putting Turner in the top-10 MVP player category, “but [Nolan] Arenado is a top-five MVP player.”

In order to take on the L.A. star-studded pitching staff of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, David Price, Julio Urias, and Dustin May, the Athletic picked German Marquez and Jon Gray to join Diamondbacks Zac Gullen and Robbie Ray, as well as San Diego’s Chris Paddack, who they believe edges out Madison Bumgarner. The Dodgers post a 13.0 combined fWAR compared to 12.7 for West fivesome.

The NL West did get the nod over the Dodgers in bullpen where Scott Oberg joins former Rockie Drew Pomeranz, San Diego’s Kirby Yates, and Arizona’s Archie Bradley and Andrew Chafin for a 6.3 combined fWar over the Dodgers’ 2.4.

The writers say Charlie Blackmon would have beat out the Dodgers and the rest of the NL West in right field before the Mookie Betts trade, but now Betts takes the honors. If the Rockies are gunning for a Wild Card, then second place is good. The Rockies also placed six players on this fictitious squad, tied for most with Arizona, while the Padres saw four players make it and the Giants had two.

It’s definitely a different and kind of fun way to evaluate things, but also depressing that the Dodgers still win.