Well, you can’t say things have been boring for the Rockies.
I mean, I guess you can in a purely win-loss sense. Colorado’s had a hard time staying competitive in recent years, and thus far are off to a fairly uninspiring start to the spring. What’s far more fascinating than the box score, though, is the roster construction of the Rockies under general manager Bill Schmidt’s watchful eye. His team has seen much change this offseason, both expected and unforeseen. How has he dealt with it all?
The coaching staff
Schmidt seems to believe in manager Bud Black’s leadership abilities and rewarded him with a one-year contract extension that’ll see him through the end of the 2024 season, and supplied his skipper with a new hitting coach in the form of Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens. In addition, well-respected minor league manager Warren Schaeffer will join Colorado’s staff as the third base coach.
These are signings meant to rejuvenate the Rockies offense and get their young players (many of whom have played under Schaeffer’s tutelage) on track to stardom. Time will tell how each plays out, but for now we can only hope that these men, as well as the returning members of the coaching staff, can help guide the team toward success.
My associate Joelle wrote a far more in-depth breakdown of Colorado’s coaching crew, which can be found here. Check it out!
Now this is what it’s all about. Who doesn’t love turning on the newest MLB The Show title and crafting the trade of your dreams to turn your team into a contender, or to sign an under-the-radar free agent who ends up being an All-Star?
Well, it’s a lot more fun when it’s not done out of necessity. In the last few weeks, Colorado has seen injuries befall many a star such as Brendan Rodgers, Lucas Gilbreath, Randal Grichuk, Sean Bouchard... it’s not been great, and that’s to say nothing of this recent string of ailing backs. As such, Schmidt has opened up his wallet to plug in the holes that are quickly opening up around his ship.
Schmidt got to work fixing up what was the league’s worst bullpen last season by signing Pierce Johnson, Brent Suter, Nick Mears, and Brad Hand - all are likely to see significant innings in 2023. After extending closer Daniel Bard at the end of last year, Schmidt is adamant that Colorado’s relief corps could be competitive this time around. It’s perhaps a hot take to say that I - as I wrote about just recently - agree with him.
That’s just one part of the puzzle, though, and the offense is another major aspect of Colorado’s woes. Schmidt hasn’t been quite as active in this area, but recent signings of Mike Moustakas and Jurickson Profar mean that there will likely be some new faces in the lineup. While they’re not likely to light the world on fire and launch the Rockies into playoff contention, “Moose” has had a nice spring thus far and Profar’s on the heels of what may be his best MLB season. It’s something.
And that’s kind of where the Rockies are right now - they’re something. While I’m of the opinion that Schmidt has made functional, perfectly respectable moves to improve his baseball team, I’m also not under the impression that these transactions are those of a team with postseason aspirations. None were near as exciting as the blockbuster acquisition of Kris Bryant last offseason (a signing that is likely to be one of, if not the most significant, of Schmidt’s tenure as GM), though the success of that move will be assessed largely on KB’s ability to stay on the field.
Schmidt will likely also be judged on the effectiveness of players he’s extended in recent seasons such as C.J. Cron, Kyle Freeland, Elías Díaz, and Antonio Senzatela, all of whom took steps backward last season. There’s certainly time for these men to turn things around, but it needs to happen soon.
In all, Schmidt initially spent this offseason making supplemental additions to the team, but has quickly been forced to place band-aids on an ever-diminishing roster. With the bar set not on making the playoffs but merely on playing .500 ball, there have never been more scrutinous eyes on Colorado’s product (or, well, maybe not). When Schmidt stepped in to replace the much-maligned Jeff Bridich, there were many who were excited at the idea of a new set of hands at the wheel. Now the honeymoon is over, and the Coors Field faithful are getting antsy to see their team contend once again.