clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rockies need innovation from new hitting coach

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, October 14, 2022

After four losing seasons, Rockies fans want change.

The Rockies delivered at least some change on Thursday when they “mutually agreed to part ways” with Dave Magadan, ending his four-year stint as Colorado’s hitting coach.

The offensive struggles have been well-documented by Purple Row and every media outlet that covers the Rockies. Rockies fans see it every game. The Rockies offense is pitiful on the road and ranked in the lowest tier in the National League in home runs (13th at 139) and runs (10th at 698) this season. In MLB, Rockies were tied for the fourth-worst barrel percentage (5.9), tied for the fourth-lowest exit velocity 87.6 mph, and had the lowest launch angle average (9.9). Most offensive stats have gotten worse and worse under Magadan.

In his 16-year career as an MLB player, Magadan was a skilled hitter, not for power, but with a career on-base percentage of .390 — that would rank No. 7 this season just behind Juan Soto. Magadan played until he was 39 years old. Legendary player and “passionate” manager Lou Piniella is his godfather and first cousin.

After he retired from playing in 2001, he immediately got into coaching, joining the Padres as a roving hitting instructor in their farm system. By 2002, he was the Padres Major League hitting coach. He went on to become the hitting coach for the Red Sox, Rangers, and Diamondbacks. He speaks Spanish, a great skill for an MLB coach, which he learned as a kid growing up in Spain. He’s had an amazing career that’s spanned 40 years.

He’s dedicated his life to the game of baseball, but it was time for the Rockies to go another way.

We all know pitching is important, but the Rockies have to be an offensive team. They have to bring the Blake Street Bombers back. They have to hit homers. The Rockies have to make calling Coors Field home an advantage. They have to have better strategies for adjusting on the road.

These are incredibly hard challenges. It will involve analytics, innovation, creativity, and the right coach that can form relationships with players. The Rockies, a self-described “draft and development” team, have a great stock of promising prospects as we all saw in September. They need to be developed. They need to be put in a place to succeed.

Players that are stuck in developmental limbo, a cohort led by Ryan McMahon, need guidance. Even with most of the coaching staff and front office staying the same, this could start with a new hitting coach.

For the past few years, the Rockies ideas for improvement seemed to be summed up as hoping players can just play better. That’s not a recipe for winning as we’ve seen. It takes better players, better coaching, and a better strategy on how to do that.

The Rockies front office has said that 2022 was “not acceptable” and they “are committed to devoting all our efforts this off-season to improving this team for 2023,” according to Dick Monfort’s letter to season ticket holders. If this is really true, the Rockies need to hire a coach from the outside.

It was incredibly encouraging to see a change made on Thursday. If the Rockies really want to improve in 2023, they have to make big changes. Maybe someone who didn’t play when Bud Black did, but someone with a fresh perspective and a new offensive approach.

Even though I hope the Rockies bring in someone new, I also know that’s not the Rockies modus operandi. If they actually do decide to hire a new face, it might still be a familiar face. The Rockies brought in Carlos González and Todd Helton as guest instructors to spring training and then made Helton a special assistant to the GM. Either could be interesting options as two of the best hitters in team history if they are interested and have a course correction plan.

Other candidates have proven they know how to hit in (and away from) Colorado. Matt Holliday or Troy Tulowitzki are two more names that come to mind. Holliday might be more in the St. Louis camp than Colorado’s and Tulo might still harbor hard feelings about how things went down in his exodus (understandably). Neither may want the job.

But, what if the Rockies actually opened it up to a genuine search? Don’t just look down the bench or organizational ladder. Bring in applicants and ask them what their ideas are for helping the Rockies bring back power and develop young hitters. Find someone who has ideas to meet this challenge. It could be a key step in creating real change in 2023.

★ ★ ★

Rockies keep manager Bud Black; hitting coach Dave Magadan out | ESPN

Dave Magadan was the major move the Rockies made on Thursday, but they also reassigned third base coach and infield coach Stu Cole to the minor leagues. Cole has been with the Rockies organization for 28 of their 30 years as an MLB franchise. He’s been the third base coach since 2013 and become a familiar face waving runners home. It was no surprise that Bud Black was returning, as he signed a one-year extension with the Rockies to manage through 2023 in February of this year. The rest of the staff remains the same.

★ ★ ★

Arizona Fall League

Salt River Rafters 7, Peoria Javelinas 6

Braxton Fulford, the Rockies 2021 sixth-round draft pick, hit a walk-off, two-run double to lift the Rafters to victory on Thursday night. After starting the season 0-8, Salt River has now won two games in a row. The Rafters fell behind 6-0, but then started their comeback in the bottom of the fifth. Grant Lavigne got the rally started with an RBI double and then came in to score, cutting Peoria’s lead to 6-2. Fulford singled and then scored a run in the sixth inning before Zac Veen hit a two-run single to make it 6-5 Javelinas headed to the seventh and final inning. The three Rockies farm products who played in the game drove in five of the Rafter's seven runs, accounted for four of their 11 hits, and scored three of their seven runs. Lavigne also added a stolen base.

★ ★ ★

Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!