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Rockies need coaches with Colorado experience

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, October 28, 2021

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The Colorado Rockies front office is becoming pretty famous for its baffling decisions that draw ire from fans, criticism from reporters, and bewilderment from their counterparts across the MLB.

This week, the trend continued.

The Rockies promoted Darryl Scott, a bullpen coach who oversaw a unit that finished 26th in the league with a 4.91 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and .250 batting average against, tied for 25th in saves at 33 and walks per nine innings at 4.25, and 24th in strikeouts per nine innings at 8.78, to the pitching coach. Scott will fill the vacancy left by Steve Foster, who is responsible for helping craft possibly the best rotation top to bottom in Rockies history. Foster was named the Rockies director of pitching operations after Mark Wiley announced his retirement concluding a 52-year career in professional baseball.

Scott held the bullpen job for two years and was the organization’s minor league pitching coordinator from 2017 to 2019. The Rockies bullpen coach job is probably one of the hardest in baseball. It’s Coors Field. It’s the endless adjustments of altitude to sea level and all the elevations in between. But it’s also an area where the Rockies have to improve if they want to become a winning baseball team again, let alone contend with the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West.

With Scott’s history with the Rockies pitchers, maybe this is a logical move, but it can equally be seen as being satisfied with the status quo from an organization that would rather promote from within and go with the guy you know instead of an outsider with a new perspective.

The Rockies other major weakness in 2021, and perhaps even the more immediate one that needs a fix and fast, is hitting. The Rockies finished tied for 21st in home runs in the majors with 182. They play half of their games in Coors Field and hitting homers has to be part of this team’s identity to have success. But even more concerning is the team’s dismal performance on the road where they ranked dead last in average (.217), 29th in slugging percentage (.351), tied for 27th in on-base percentage (.291), and 26th in homers at 78.

Nevertheless, Dave Magadan remains the hitting coach. Magadan joined the team in 2019 when the Rockies let go of Duane Espy after they had their lowest batting average in team history at .256. Guess what was lower? The 2021 Rockies at .249. Third lowest? The 2020 Rockies at .257.

Averages across MLB were down in 2021 and it may not be fair to judge 2020 for anything. However, knowing that the Rockies pitchers – even with the best possible five-man rotation in club history – will give up more runs than the Dodgers, Giants, Padres, and a good number of other NL teams from the Mets and the Braves to the Cardinals and the Brewers, the Rockies have to hit better than most. That’s not the case now.

Also departing the organization this week were Jeff Salazar and Tim Doherty, both assistant hitting coaches. With their vacancies, Salazar’s being assistant hitting coach, and Doherty’s being major league coach, along with Scott’s old job, there are now three coaching positions the Rockies need to fill.

Since it seems so unlikely that the Rockies might hire coaches from outside the organization, what if there was a compromise? Maybe the organization would feel more comfortable bringing back former players who have been here before. What about LaTroy Hawkins? Or Chad Bettis?

When the Rockies hosted the All-Star game this summer, Hawkins came back to Coors Field to be a manager for one of the Futures All-Star teams. He’s currently serving as a special assistant in baseball operations for the Minnesota Twins and he also occasionally appears as a TV analyst in Bally Sports North for Twins games.

Not only did Hawkins pitch in Colorado for two and a half seasons, posting a 3.41 ERA in 132 innings with 25 saves, but he was also a key member of the bullpen in the Rockies 2007 World Series run. He most recently pitched for the Rockies in 2015 and his vast experience — 1,042 career games over 21 years for 11 different teams — could be a huge asset to veterans and younger relievers alike.

Chad Bettis spent seven seasons with the Rockies, making 164 appearances on the mound, including 72 from the bullpen. Two of those seasons came when the Rockies recorded their first back-to-back playoff appearances. A fan favorite who also has an inspiring story of fighting and defeating cancer twice, Bettis has all the characteristics of a coach. He even gave Jon Gray advice on his pitching in 2017 when he was undergoing chemotherapy.

When it comes to hitting, the Rockies could also bring back some notable players to help bring the bomb back to Blake Street. Who better than Matt Holliday, the seven-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger who went to the postseason eight times in his career, including three World Series? Holliday is currently serving as the hitting coach for Oklahoma State University and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Ben Frederickson reported that Holliday threw his name in the hat for manager after the Cardinals fired Mike Shildt earlier this month.

Another potential candidate would be Carlos González, the Rockie many credit for having the most beautiful swing in team history. The three-time All-Star spent 10 years with the Rockies and could not only provide valuable knowledge about hitting, but also bring some life and joy to a team that needs more of both.

It’s true that previous former-player coaches like Walt Weiss, Vinny Castilla, Eric Young, and Darren Holmes didn’t revolutionize the Rockies. Castilla, who is still with the team as a special assistant, is legendary in the clubhouse and brings his contagious smile and attitude to the team.

Bringing former players back as coaches doesn’t always translate to wins, but when it comes to the Rockies bullpen and offense, what have they got to lose?

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Trevor Story’s time with the Rockies is likely over — here’s what we know about his free agency | The Athletic ($)

Nick Groke has compiled a very comprehensive recap of Story’s time with the Rockies and where he could play next. Story wants to win first and foremost, but “culture and environment. And geography” are also important. As Groke points out, Story hasn’t found those things in Colorado and will likely be headed to the Cardinals or Yankees, or possibly Rangers, along with Mariners, Astros, or Dodgers if this offseason ends up being the great shortstop shuffle, where he can check more of those items off his wishlist.

The most brutal line is also the theme of the article. As Groke notes, Story’s “time with the Rockies is now spoken of in the past tense.”

Ryan McMahon nominated as a Gold Glove finalist at third base | Purple Row

Upon hearing news of Nolan Arenado being traded away in February, it would have been impossible to imagine that in October the Rockies could still have a third baseman be nominated for a Gold Glove. But that’s exactly what Ryan McMahon did. Check out Evan Lang’s breakdown of how McMahon’s numbers match up with Manny Machado’s and Arenado’s, even if he did split his time between second and third.

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On the Farm: Arizona Fall League Edition

Surprise Saguaros 8, Salt River Rafters 7

Down 4-0 after two innings, the Rafters slowly worked on a comeback before scoring four in the top of the ninth to take a 7-4 lead. Unfortunately, the Saguaros rallied back with a comeback of their own with four runs in the bottom of the ninth. Michael Toglia (No. 4 PuRP) went 2-for-4 with one double, scored two runs, and drew a walk. Ezequiel Tovar (No. 12 PuRP) and Willie MacIver (No. 22 PuRP) added one hit apiece. Reagan Todd pitched a scoreless eighth for the Rafters, giving up one walk, but no damage.

Next, the Rafters (6-6) will take on the Peoria Javelinas (5-8) on Friday.

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