Last Tuesday, we explored some internal, returning factors that need to happen for Rockies owner, Dick Monfort’s pre-season prediction to become true in the upcoming 2023 season. Mainly, returning players need to return to the performances expected from them when they signed contracts, i.e Kris Bryant and Germán Márquez. For a little refresher, you can read that article here. This week, let’s take a look at some other changes to the roster and schedule that can benefit the Rockies and have a 14-win improvement over last year.
“I think we can play .500 ball.”#Rockies owner Dick Monfort speaking in Greeley at the Breakfast of Champions event.— Patrick Lyons (@PatrickDLyons) January 28, 2023
Take advantage of the new balance schedule
With the new MLB season comes a new system for scheduling games in 2023. Instead of playing 19 games per division rival, the number has been dropped to 13 to include 46 interleague games against every team in the league regardless of league. This is good news for the Rockies as their schedule will include six fewer games against the powerhouse Dodgers, a Padres team coming off a NLCS appearance, and the frisky Giants. Having 18 fewer games against these opponents in favor for a series against lower-ranked AL teams could be a big benefit if the Rockies can take advantage. Doing so may be enough to push the team towards a .500 record. For the full 2023 schedule, check out the link here.
New acquisitions make a difference
While few would consider the Rockies’ acquisitions this winter to be very flashy, the team has added a few decent players to the roster. Pierce Johnson was signed after three seasons with the Padres, having a down year compared to the 2020 and 2021 seasons thanks to an injury that sidelined him from April to September. Johnson was able to return from the injury and was able to pitch 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings and striking out six batter for the Padres during their Postseason run last year. The righty had a 2.70 ERA, striking out 27 batters in 20 1⁄3 innings during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, and followed it up with recording 3.22 ERA with 77 strikeout in 58 2⁄3 innings the following year. Those seasons were by far the best of his career, and the high strikeouts tendency from Johnson will be a great fit as a set-up man for Daniel Bard out of the bullpen and late in games. Check out some of Johnson’s 2022 highlights below:
Another player acquired via trade was Nolan Jones from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for INF prospect Juan Brito. Jones is a utility infielder and outfielder with experience in all three outfield position, first base and third base, and designated hitter at the Triple-A and major league levels last year. Expectations are for Jones to be a utility player that can provide depth at many positions, especially the outfield that is currently held between Kris Bryant, Randal Grichuk, Yonathan Daza, and occasionally Charlie Blackmon. With the Rockies usual priority to have players capable of playing multiple positions, Nolan Jones fits the bill for a utility player that can replace departed utility players like Garrett Hampson and Connor Joe. Jones made his MLB debut last season and was able to play in 28 games for the NL Central champion Guardians. In the short time, Jones hit two home runs and slashed .244/.309/.372. One concern with Jones is his high strikeout rate, with 31 punchouts in 91 plate appearances his stint in Cleveland, and with the lack of major power, could be an issue at the plate. But if Jones can figure out major league pitching in his first full MLB season, he could add some unexpected value as a utility player on the roster.
A lot of things have to go right for the Rockies to make to jump and have a .500 level season, which with the marathon of 162 game season, healthy, luck, and improvement is never guaranteed. The Rockies will need most of the above to workout for them to improve and end the streak of losing seasons. Dick Monfort’s prediction is more “reasonable” in years past from thinking the 2020 team could win 94 games, or that the team just needs to play better, but even still a .500 season is still a long shot.
Which factor is the most important for a .500 season? Have any additions to the list above? Let us know what you think and your prediction for the Rockies record next year in the comments.
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Saunders: Rockies owner Dick Monfort hates tanking but what’s the alternative? | Denver Post ($)
Dick Monfort hates the word tanking. Monfort does not want to “just get rid of everyone” and try to draft low, which stands to reason as the Rockies management has always been loyal to those that work there, not firing a manager or executive in some time. Tanking cuts payroll, gains higher draft picks, but also alienated the fans with 100 loss seasons, and violates the spirit of competition says Monfort. But recent history begs to differ. The Chicago Cubs won their first title in over 100 years, just four seasons removed from losing 100 games. Likewise, the Houston Astros have won multiple World Series after losing 100 games every year between 2011 and 2013. Monfort believes that losing 100 games alienates the fanbase, but does winning eight to ten more games each year make that much of a difference to the fanbase?
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