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He’s the prospect no one saw coming.

Renee Dechert

Sep 30, 2022


“I think there’s something there with Sean Bouchard” — Ryan Spilborghs

Lost in all the fanfare of calling up Michael Toglia and Ezequiel Tovar was the Rockies’ decision to add outfielder Sean Bouchard, 26, to their MLB roster. Bouchard has not been one of the Rockies’ more-celebrated prospects like Zac Veen, Drew Romo, and Adael Amador, but his contributions thus far point to some intriguing possibilities.

Remind Me: Who Is He?

The native of San Diego graduated from Cathedral Catholic High School before attending UCLA for, as Bouchard put it, the “incredible academics, athletics and geographic location.” According to the UCLA Baseball website, Bouchard admires Derek Jeter and enjoys surfing and music. 

At UCLA, he primarily played first base. (Sound familiar?) In 2017, he made the All-PAC-12 team after batting .306 with 39 homers (the most on the team) and 43 RBI. He also led the Bruins in extra-base hits (27) and home runs (9). He was drafted by the Rockies in the ninth round of the 2017 MLB draft, making him the 266th pick overall. Michael Toglia’s first year at UCLA was 2017, so the two overlapped one year. 

How Was Bouchard in the Minors?

Even though Sean Bouchard was not a prospect Rockies fans paid much attention, he’s been good, hitting well at every level as he climbed through the Rockies’ farm system. The Rockies moved him from first to the outfield where he thrived. Here are his numbers according to FanGraphs:

Source: FanGraphs

Notice that every years he’s had a wRC+ of more than 100 with his time in Albuquerque being exceptional. It’s also worth pointing to his increased BB%, which almost doubled since 2021 as his hitting numbers have steadily increased. 

“I always feel like I’ve been a king of Jack-of-all-trades player,” Bouchard told KRQE, “so it’s nice to be able to put up the kind of numbers I have so far. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to keep it as simple as possible and just take nice, easy swings.” Clearly, his approach has worked.

When Did He Get Called Up and How Has It Gone?

He made his debut on June 19, going 0-3 with a walk. However, Bouchard soon suffered an oblique injury after going hit-less in three games and was sent back to Albuquerque. In 69 (nice!) games with the Isotopes, he hit 15 doubles, 6 triples, and 20 home runs for an OPS of 1.039, the highest on the team. 

He knows that taking quality at-bats matters. “Whether or not you’re a guy that hits homers, a guy that moves the ball around the field or takes walks, whatever it is the goal is to have good at-bats, know what the pitchers are trying to do to you and almost use that to your advantage,” Bouchard told Thomas Harding.

Consider the results. Bouchard has started the last eight games and walked at least once each game for a total of 11 walks. Only Todd Helton has a longer streak. Actually, he’s walked 18 times and struck out 16 times, which impressive. He’s only had 72 plate appearances in 21 games, but he also has a 26.4% walk rate with a slashline of .288/.472/.423 for a wRC+ of 149. As Luke Hall has pointed out:

Luke Hall @OakTreeStatus

Sean Bouchard has more walks in 68 plate appearances than Joshua Fuentes had in his MLB career.

Luke Hall @OakTreeStatus

Sean Bouchard has walked more times this season than Jose Iglesias

11:00 PM ∙ Sep 29, 2022

He also has two home runs and nine RBI, with the most recent last night:

AT&T SportsNet™ | RM @ATTSportsNetRM

.@seanbouchard says bye bye 💣 @Rockies

4:34 AM ∙ Sep 30, 2022

Granted, this is all small-sample-size territory, but he currently leads the Rockies in wRC+ (149), BB% (26.4%), and OBP (.472). We’ve not yet seen the speed (12 stolen bases) and power (20 home runs) that Bouchard showed in Albuquerque, but both are clearly there. 

Here’s how he compares to other Rockie outfielders:

Source: FanGraphs

After appearing in only 21 games, he’s tied for the Rockies’ second most-valuable outfielder as measured by fWAR. Again, small sample size, so at this point, it’s risky to make any sweeping generalizations, except to note that the numbers support Ryan Spilborghs’ assessment of Bouchard’s skill so far. 

Final Thoughts

After the starting rotation, the Rockies’ outfield is probably the biggest question for 2023. This year’s outfield has not been good, and I expect to see significant changes there over the offseason. Bouchard is making a case for himself to be one of those changes. 

Down on the Farm

  • Some accolades for catcher Drew Romo: 

Spokane Indians @spokaneindians

Spokane Indians backstop @drewromo23 was selected as the best defensive catcher in the Northwest League by @BaseballAmerica. #GoSpo

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8:08 PM ∙ Sep 27, 2022


54Likes7Retweets * Brenton Doyle is mashing some baseballs since being promoted to Albuquerque — and I appreciated the very personal perspective of this video: 

Andrea Dufrene-Doyle @DufreneDoyle

@ABQTopes #odoylerules #offthescoreboard #sorrypitcher #weallknewit #amateurvideo #greatseats

4:01 PM ∙ Sep 27, 2022


Old Friends

  • The Cardinals are officially headed to the postseason. I thought this Jesse Rogers piece captured the interesting dynamic between Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. 
  • RIP Isotopes Hill.

Albuquerque Isotopes @ABQTopes

So long, Isotopes Hill. Thank you for 20 years of unforgettable memories.

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4:54 AM ∙ Sep 29, 2022


What I’m Reading


Weekend Walk-off

Speaking of Alan Trejo, let’s take a moment to appreciate that impressive homer he hit in San Francisco on Wednesday:

AT&T SportsNet™ | RM @ATTSportsNetRM

💣 by the bay.... @Rockies within 1 in the 5th!

3:28 AM ∙ Sep 29, 2022

The Rockies’ plans for Trejo are one of the storylines I’m most interested in following.

Thanks for reading —

Renee


Trevor Story’s absence doesn’t help, either.

Renee Dechert

Jul 1, 2022


Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Rockies’ tendency to hit ground balls, an especially self-destructive tendency when a team plays half its games at Coors Field. Currently, the Rockies have the third-highest GB% in baseball (46.1%). They narrowly trail the Cubs (46.5%) and the Nationals (46.4%) for this honor. 

Since then, I’ve been thinking about double plays — specifically, how do the Rockies compare with other teams in terms of hitting into double plays, and which players on the team are most apt to hit into a double play? What I found surprised me.

Do the Rockies Have a GDP Problem?

Yes.

Just as a refresher, a GIDP (ground into double play) “occurs when a player hits a ground ball that results in multiple outs on the bases.” They most often take place on hard-hit ground balls, and it follows that the odds of a GIDP increase when the ball is hit by a player who is a slow runner.

Let’s start with 2021 to provide a contrast. Last year, the Rockies hit into 98 double plays, resulting in their having the 25th fewest GIDPs in baseball. (The Rays had the fewest with 75.) The league average was 111, so the Rockies were a very good team by this measure. 

However, in 2022, the Rockies have already hit into 67 GIDPs, roughly two-thirds of their 2021 total. Currently, the Rockies are second only to the Nationals with 72. (Interesting note here: The Diamondbacks have hit into only 38, the third fewest in baseball while the Dodgers have hit into only 43.) 

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Logically, it follows that when a team is hitting a lot of ground balls, they also increase their chances of hitting into double plays — and if anything kills offensive momentum, it’s a double-play. Right now, the Rockies need all the offensive help they can get, but the high number of GIDPs illustrates another way in which they are failing, especially in comparison to their NL West counterparts. 

Which Rockies Are the Biggest Offenders?

This is where things get interesting. 

(Before going further, let’s keep Elehuris Montero out of this discussion — he just hasn’t had enough opportunities — but I also wanted to leave his data in this table to provide an early benchmark.)

This table shows individual opportunities to hit into double plays followed by the number of instances in which that happened. Those numbers are then converted to a percentage. 

Source: Baseball Reference

Charlie Blackmon has had the most opportunities to hit into a GIDP (78), but has done so only 4 times for a GIDP% of 5.1%. (The league average is 10.0%.) CJ Cron is close behind Blackmon with 76 opportunities, but a considerably higher GIDP% of 13.2%. So Charlie Blackmon is exceptionally good at not hitting into double plays. (Hold that thought. I’ll come back to it in the next section.)

Contrast that with Yonathan Daza and José Iglesias, who are both having good years in terms of making contact and hitting singles. However, Daza has a GIDP% of 14.3% while Iglesias’ is 17.0%. Both are much higher than Blackmon’s. With this in mind, Bud Black’s consistent use of the Blackmon in the second spot in the batting order makes sense as does placing Iglesias further down the lineup.

Almost as good as Blackmon is Kris Bryant, though we’ve seen little of him due to injuries. Still, at this point, Bryant is well below the league average of 10.0%.

Consider the other two players who are below league average: Sam Hilliard and Ryan McMahon. Hilliard is currently in Albuquerque because he’s having trouble making contact. That said, when he has the opportunity to hit into a double play (which has happened 33 times in 2022), he has done so only twice. One other weird thing: Ryan McMahon has had 46 opportunities to hit into a double play this season but has hit into only one. Connor Joe may be the Greatest Rockie Ever, but Ryan McMahon is much better at avoiding rally-killing double plays — and they’ve had equal opportunities.

It’s also worth noting that Garrett Hampson is just barely above league average at 10.5%, which strikes me as close enough. 

That means that eight Rockies are above league average in terms of hitting into double plays. Who are most apt to hit into a GIDP? The first is Elias Díaz (27 opportunities, for 5 GIDP or 18.5%), who is struggling offensively.

Brendan Rodgers, who is slightly behind Díaz in GIDP% (18.2%) has had 66 opportunities and grounded into 12 double plays, like this one:

GIDP

mlb.comBrendan Rodgers grounds into a double play, third baseman Max Muncy to second baseman Gavin Lux to first baseman Freddie Freeman. Kris Brya…Brendan Rodgers grounds into a double play, third baseman Max Muncy to second baseman Gavin Lux to first baseman Freddie Freeman. Kris Bryant out at 2nd. Brendan Rodgers out at 1st.9:33 PM ∙ Jun 30, 2022

The Rockies need more offense, and one way to do that is to reduce the number of double plays they hit into.

How Do the Rockies Compare in Terms of Speed?

Remember: The second factor that influences a double play is speed, and when it comes to being fleet of foot, the Rockies are a bit whatever. According to Baseball Savant, the average sprint speed in MLB is 27 feet/second. So, half of the Rockies’ roster is above average in terms of speed, and half is below average. 

Source: Baseball Savant

It makes sense, then, Hampson, Hilliard, Blackmon, and Bryant, four of the fastest Rockies, also have a lower GIDP%. Of course, Iglesias and Daza are also fast players, but they still have a high GIDP%, so speed isn’t everything. 

But it’s also a big difference between Charlie Blackmon and CJ Cron: Blackmon is just faster, so he beats out double plays more often than Cron does. 

Did You Stumble Onto Anything Interesting While Writing This?

You know, I did — two things, actually. The first oddity builds on the piece I wrote last week about Charlie Blackmon as an effective designated hitter. 

This graphic from Baseball Savant illustrates by position how Rockies players compare to other teams in terms of speed. The Rockies are the colored dots on the chart, and I’ve tagged Charlie Blackmon.

There’s nothing too revelatory here: The slow players (e.g., Rodgers, Cron, Díaz, McMahon) are slower than average when compared to other players in their positions. But look at Charlie Blackmon, who is one of the fastest designated hitters in baseball. Only Andrew McCutchen, Harold Ramirez, and Shohei Ohtani are faster than Blackmon. 

Charlie Blackmon may not like being a designated hitter, but he’s good at it — and his speed makes him more effective and reduces the odds that he will hit into a double play.

Here’s the other interesting note. In 2021, Trevor Story had the opportunity to hit into 116 double plays, but he only did seven times for a GIDP% of 6.0%, the lowest on the team for anyone with a minimum of 250 plate appearances. (The league average was 9.6%.) That’s amazingly good. In 2022, however, Story has a GIDP% of 10.8%, so he’s not doing as well this year as last year (and that may be due to his slow start). That said, he’s just slightly above average, and I expect that to come down as the season plays out. Also, Story is better than his replacement, José Iglesias, at not grounding into double plays. In 2021, Iglesias had a GIDP% of 17.0%, so this is just part of his game. 

But it indicates another way in which the Rockies miss Trevor Story.

Final Thoughts

I don’t have any quick answer for this except to note — again — that a moribund Rockies offense needs to elevate the baseball. 


Down on the Farm

Rockies Club Information @RockiesClubInfo

It was announced today by @MiLB that outfielder Jesus Bugarin has been named the Arizona Complex League's Player of the Week for the week of June 20-26. During that span, the 20-year-old went 7-for-16 (.438) with 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR & 6 RBI, putting up a 1.349 OPS and a .500 BAbip.

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5:17 PM ∙ Jun 27, 2022


  • Aaron Schunk’s dad has talent!

eric schunk @ericschunk

My sketch of the @GoYardGoats Dunkin Donuts Park (plus handiwork on the ball I got to throw out to Aaron on Father’s Day). Did the drawing over a two-game period, totaling about 2 hours. @RealSlimSchunky @Rockies @MiLB

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12:40 PM ∙ Jun 28, 2022


Old Friends 


What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To


Weekend Walk-off

For Avalanche fans, this was an epic week. For Rockies fans, it was great to see the Avs and the Stanley Cup at Coors Field and moments like this one involving Avs superfan Kyle Freeland. 

AT&T SportsNet™ | RM @ATTSportsNetRM

Nailed it @GabeLandeskog92 and @KFREE_21 ! #GoAvsGo #Rockies

1:03 AM ∙ Jun 30, 2022


This week also provided Rockies fans with a bitter reminder of how the team’s ownership has failed them. The Commissioner’s Trophy isn’t coming to Denver anytime soon. 

Thanks for reading —

Renee


It’s bad. 

Renee Dechert

Jun 17, 2022


Last Saturday, Manny Randhawa tweeted this about the Colorado Rockies’ offense: 

Manny Randhawa @MannyOnMLB

29th in GB rate, 26th in hard-hit rate. Not a recipe for success. Hit the baseball hard, children. Hit the ball hard and in the air.

Bryan @RockyMountainBK

I feel like the Rockies, for the bazillionth year in a row, hit way too many ground balls. It’s infuriating. Haven’t checked the stats but they’ve gotta lead the league or are close to the top in GB%. Yuck.

10:50 PM ∙ Jun 11, 2022


I realize the Rockies currently have a 27-37 record, which is not the mark of a good team, but the tweet made me wonder just how bad the Rockies are offensively. The answer is straightforward: very bad. The causes, however, are less obvious.

You’ll remember that in 2021, the Rockies had the league-worse offense in baseball as measured by wRC+ (82). The front office recognized the problem and re-signed CJ Cron and traded for Randal Grichuk in an attempt to address a lack of offensive power. 

The initial results were promising with the Rockies 13-10 on May 1; however, they did not last as the Rockies muddled through much of May and the first half of June. After being swept by the Guardians yesterday, the Rockies have lost their last seven consecutive games at Coors Field. 

I’ve written before about the effect errors are having on the Rockies — they now also have 13 consecutive errors in games at Coors Field, a team record — and I’ve also discussed the Rockies’ need for an “action guy” given changes to the 2022 baseball. But right now, I’m interested in attempting to quantify how ineffective the offense has been.

Bud Black recognized this problem in his post-game media availability on Tuesday: “But overall, our power is lacking. When you look at our roster, and you look at the names and what they’re capable of on the power side, right now we’re not producing the power that we anticipated.”

It’s worth considering that power in more detail.

League Comparisons

Let’s first compare the Rockies to other MLB teams in terms of offense. 

Right now, the Yankees have a league-high wRC+ of 119 followed by the Mets’ 115. The Dodgers are fourth with a wRC+ of 113. For comparison, the Rockies have a team wRC+ of 88, better only than Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Oakland. The low wRC+ indicates that the Rockies have not been good at creating runs.

Consider another metric: home runs. The Yankees have hit the most home runs (100) followed by Atlanta with 97. The Rockies are 24th with 54 home runs. Once again, they are not optimizing playing baseball at elevation.

It’s worth spending a moment on an “anti-power” metric: ground-ball rate (GB%). Clearly, hitters with a higher GB% tend to hit fewer home runs since they’re keeping the ball mostly on the ground. In case you’re wondering about the Rockies’ GB%, it’s still the highest in the league at 47.2%, with Washington second worst (barely) at 47.1%. The team with the lowest GB%? That would be the Dodgers at 38.1%. 

If we look at hard-hit percentage (that is, balls that are hit harder than 95 mph), Atlanta leads the league with a Hard% of 36.4%. The Rockies, in contrast, are 24th with a Hard% of 28.6%. 

To summarize, the Rockies do not consistently hit the ball in the air, and they do not hit the ball hard, a recipe for disaster (or a record of 27-37).

Team Statistics

That’s how the Rockies as a team compare. Now let’s consider individual players. 

Here’s what FanGraphs shows as of Thursday. 

Source: FanGraphs

Currently, CJ Cron is the Rockies’ most valuable player — and it’s not close. He leads the team in fWAR, home runs, SLG, and wRC+. Even then, however, Cron’s home run hitting has slowed since the beginning of the season, though he remains in the MLB top 20 in terms of home runs. (Aaron Judge leads MLB with 25.) And the second-best home run hitter on the team? Charlie Blackmon with 10, which no one saw coming.

The surprise contributors as measured by wRC+ are Brian Serven (though he’s still in small-sample-size territory), Yonathan Daza, and José Iglesias. Daza and Iglesias have shown consistent ability to get on base. No one, I would argue, is surprised by Connor Joe’s effectiveness at the plate.

The mysteries? Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon. The Rockies need Rodgers and McMahon to be productive, but that just hasn’t happened. (Mario DeGenz has more on McMahon here.)

The disappointments? Sam Hilliard, Randal Grichuk, and Elias Díaz. These players were supposed to hit, but Grichuk and Díaz are slugging below .200, and while Hilliard has power, he also has the second-highest strikeout rate. In June, he’s gone 0 for 20 with 10 Ks. Being able to hit the ball hard isn’t especially helpful if a player cannot make contact.

I also wanted to focus on ground-ball rate and hard- hit percentage. 

Source: FanGraphs

Five of the Rockies hitters have a GB% of more than 50%, and Díaz and Daza are above 49%, though Daza gets a pass on this one as his propensity for slapping singles is working. Also, note the player with the lowest GB%: CJ Cron.

Perhaps most unsettling, however, is the fact that Randal Grichuk has become a consistent ground-ball hitter since arriving at Coors Field — as in the player with the fourth-highest GB% in baseball. (If it’s any consolation, he’s hitting the ball hard as he hits it into the ground.) Last year, Grichuk’s GB% was 39.7%, and his career average is 39.5%, so his experience with the Rockies is inconsistent with his career performance.

To provide a GB% comparison, this year, Nolan Arenado’s GB% is 28.5% (the lowest in his career and the third lowest in baseball); Trevor Story’s is 33.1% (which is fairly typical for him); and Raimel Tapia’s is 49.6%, his lowest GB% since 2019. Mike Trout has the lowest GB% in baseball at 23.7%.

To be clear, the Rockies are hitting the ball hard: McMahon, Hilliard, Rodgers, and Grichuk are all hitting the ball harder than Cron is. The problem is where they’re hitting the ball, which is on the ground.

Coors Field handsomely rewards players who hit the ball hard and in the air. But despite their best efforts, the Rockies have constructed a team that struggles to elevate the ball, a fact reflected in their record.

What’s Going on Here?

The Rockies’ offense problems are not new.

Yesterday, Randhawa tweeted this: 

Manny Randhawa @MannyOnMLB

So the three worst offensive seasons, by team OPS, in the 30-season history of the Rockies are as follows: 28. 2021 (.731) 29. 2020 (.716) 30. 2022 (.709)* *Entering today

3:22 AM ∙ Jun 17, 2022


In terms of what can be done, who knows?

Maybe the Rockies need a new hitting coach. I’m hesitant to see a new coach as the mid-season factor that’s cures a team’s ills. That said, the Rockies’ offense has not been well served by Dave Magadan’s presence on their coaching staff. 

Perhaps the deadened 2022 baseball is affecting the Rockies, but if that’s the case, all teams should be equally affected, which hasn’t been the case.

Perhaps this points to a development issue, which would explain Connor Joe’s and CJ Cron’s success, but Randal Grichuk is not a product of the Rockies system, and he’s struggled the most.

Who knows?

Sam Hilliard has been sent to Albuquerque to sort out his issues, but the larger problems remain, and until the Rockies answer these very fundamental questions, they will continue to struggle offensively.


Down on the Farm


Old Friends

Patrick Saunders @psaundersdp

I checked in with former #Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. Here's what he had to say about his transition to the #RedSoxdenverpost.com/2022/06/12/tre… via @denverpost

denverpost.comTrevor Story’s self-belief helped him transition from Rockies to Red SoxBoston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story seeks balance.7:08 PM ∙ Jun 12, 2022


  • Chi Chi González was DFA’d by the Twins and picked up by the Brewers. 

MLB Jersey Numbers @NumbersMLB

RHP Chi Chi González (@alexgonzalezchi) will wear number 21. Last worn by INF Travis Shaw in 2021. #Brewers

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3:37 AM ∙ Jun 16, 2022


What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To


Weekend Walk-off

If something’s about Connor Joe, it’s probably awesome. This time, he drew the attention of Batting Stance Guy.

Batting Stance Guy @BattingStanceG

He beat cancer. Got on base 35 consecutive games and has glorious hair. Rockies ⭐️ Connor Joe. @cojo__18 @Rockies

9:00 PM ∙ Jun 14, 2022


There’s a reason he’s the Greatest Rockie Ever. 

Thanks for reading —

Renee


As problems go, it’s a good one, but the Rockies may have too many outfielders.

Renee Dechert

May 20, 2022


Kris Bryant is back!

On one hand, it’s excellent news. Bryant should improve an uneven Rockies offense. Besides, as Bryant has reminded us, he has never played on a losing team, and right now, the Rockies could use some of that winning mojo. On the other hand, the Rockies will finally have to confront a deferred dilemma: How do they ensure adequate playing time for five outfielders?

I’m going to approach this question in two parts. First, I want to examine the remarkable season one of those outfielders, Yonathan Daza, is having, and, then, I’ll look at Daza in light of his fellow outfielders.

The New-and-Improved Yonathan Daza

It’s taken some time, but Yonathan Daza has come into himself as a baseball player. His defense was never in question; the issue was his offense. Given the Rockies’ need to add power, they gave Daza an offseason assignment: Get stronger. As Thomas Harding explains:

In addition to the standard weightlifting for baseball, Daza said, his trainer in Venezuela, Aquiles Monteverde, introduced him to exercises in the pool. There was running and weighted activity in the water, but Monteverde — who worked with former American League Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve and former longtime MLB utilityman Martín Prado in their younger years — had him do freestyle swimming for power.

The work paid off as Daza reported to Spring Training noticeably bigger, going on to slash .464/.516/.464 in 28 at-bats. Offensively, he was transformed, a change that has continued into the 2022 season.

Even though the Rockies traded Raimel Tapia for Randal Grichuk, the more interesting comparison is between Tapia and Daza, given their similar styles of play. It’s worth taking a moment to examine their respective seasons, Daza in Colorado and Tapia in Toronto, even though the comparison is admittedly imperfect.

Source: FanGraphs

At this point, Daza is the better player — by a lot. (Did I mention he currently has an 11-game hitting streak?) Even though Tapia has appeared in more games and has significantly more plate appearances, Daza is by far the more valuable player. He walks more; he strikes out less; his slashline is significantly higher; and he has a positive fWAR. For players with at least 70 plate appearances, Daza’s OBP is fourth, behind Taylor Ward, Mike Trout, and Manny Machado. (The next highest Rockie is Connor Joe, who’s 36th.) Daza also has the second lowest K% in baseball.

Whether Daza continues to play at this level remains to be seen, but he has been a key offensive player for the Rockies, and his placement in the lineup — before CJ Cron, the first NL player to hit 10 home runs — puts the Rockies in a position to score runs. Here he is on Wednesday against the Giants:

RoxGifsVids @RoxGifsVids

Yonathan Daza ties up the game! Extends hitting streak to 11 games

9:36 PM ∙ May 18, 2022


“I can’t say enough about Daza. He’s been great,” Black said earlier this week, Kevin Henry reported. “He’s putting the ball in play, getting hits, and playing good defense. Currently, he’s making a statement, which is great to see. He’s playing really well.”

According to fWAR, Daza is the Rockies’ third most-valuable player, behind only CJ Cron and Ryan McMahon.

All of this is a long way of saying that Yonathan Daza has emerged as an unexpected key player for the Rockies. I initially thought Daza would be the most expendable — in fact, I expected him to be traded before the season began. Reader, I could not have been more wrong.

Outfield Traffic Jam

Now consider the Rockies’ available outfielders — and I’m going to include Kris Bryant because even though he had a slow start and hasn’t played much, the Rockies will certainly make him a lineup fixture.

Source: FanGraphs

Yonathan Daza is the Rockies’ most valuable outfielder right now. Obviously, he lacks the power of Grichuk and Blackmon, but in terms of getting hits and not striking out, Daza has been stellar. One problem is that Daza is hitting singles and not doubles, which would make him a more valuable player and one of Ken Rosenthal’s “action guys.” MLB’s decision to deaden the ball in an attempt to force more action may not have helped the Rockies’ sluggers, but it’s been perfect for Yonathan Daza.

He’s also the Rockies’ best outfield defender, and it’s not close. Daza has 1 Out Above Average, making him 36th in baseball. The next closest Rockie is Sam Hilliard at 76 with an OAA of -1. (The defensive play of Charlie Blackmon and Randall Grichuk is a story for another day.)

Even clean-shaven, Sam Hilliard has not yet emerged as the player the Rockies have hoped he would become. He and Daza have had almost equal plate appearances, so they’ve both been given similar playing times. His K% is still high (though Grichuk’s is higher yet). That said, he’s walking more, which is good, but walks aren’t hits, and the Rockies are looking to Hilliard for power.

Another positive sign for Hilliard is that he’s stolen two bases, tying him with Connor Joe for the lead in that category among the Rockies. However, before Hilliard can steal more bases, he has to get on base, and that’s not happening consistently.

The best way for Hilliard to improve is to see consistent playing time. Now the Rockies will need to figure out how to do that while balancing a very crowded outfield and trying to win games.


Down on the Farm

  • During Kris Bryant’s rehab stint with the Isotopes, he got to experience the automated strike zone MLB is exploring.
  • More good news from the Rockies’ farm system. First, Spokane’s Tony Locey was named the Northwest League's Pitcher of the Week, tossing six hitless, scoreless innings while striking out 10 on May 11. Hunter Goodman was also recognized.

Rockies Club Information @RockiesClubInfo

C/1B Hunter Goodman of the @FresnoGrizzlies has been named by @MiLB as the California League's Player of the Week for the week of May 9-15. During that span, the 22-year-old slashed .462/.500/.923 with five runs, one double, one triple, three home runs and 13 RBI in six games.

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10:46 PM ∙ May 16, 2022


Old Friends

  • Sam Howard’s time with the Orioles has ended.

Tigers PR @DetroitTigersPR

The Tigers have claimed LHP Sam Howard off waivers from Pittsburgh and optioned him to Triple A Toledo. The Tigers 40-man roster is now at 39.

5:30 PM ∙ May 13, 2022


  • Rockies fans never doubted it for a minute, but Trevor Story’s slump has ended in a big way. He also, apparently, didn’t give away all of his Rockies gear.

Matt Gross @MattGross87

Anybody else notice that Trevor Story was wearing some of his old Colorado gear during his historic game at Fenway tonight? You can see his old No. 27 on his batting gloves and elbow protector.

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5:30 AM ∙ May 20, 2022


What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To


Weekend Walk-off

Looking for a quick history of the Colorado Rockies as measured by WAR? Greg Harvey has you covered.

Greg Harvey @BetweenTheNums

Next up in the MLB Position Player WAR series are the @Rockies, who were formed in 1993. Check out all of your favorite Rockies position players throughout this graphic including @Cdnmooselips33 @CarGo5 & @Chuck_Nazty. @RockiesClubInfo @jaysonst @PurpleRow @JonHeyman

1:59 PM ∙ May 18, 2022


I’m off to Denver to brave Winter Storm Tad to cover a messy Rockies-Mets series this weekend. One thing you learn when you live in Wyoming: Never put away your Carhartts.

Thanks for reading —

Renee


It’s not just the the front office looking for a reset; the players want to be taken seriously, too.

Renee Dechert

Apr 22, 2022


For the last year, the Rockies have largely been defined by what they don’t have: Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Jon Gray, competent leadership, an analytics department, a respected farm system.

Stories about the team tend to begin by focusing on players who are no longer with the organization rather than those who are. To its credit, the organization has attempted to address those on-the-field missing pieces — incidentally, the Rockies are ranked eighth in total offseason spending. That money paid for signing free agents Kris Bryant, Alex Colomé, José Iglesias, and Chad Kuhl in addition to signing extensions with CJ Cron, Elias Díaz, Kyle Freeland, Ryan McMahon, and Antonio Senzatela. With the exception of the Bryant signings, these have been unsexy moves, but the Rockies have tried to replace what was missing.

Still, the narrative of lack has provided an easy talking point.

Last week, I wrote about the Rockies using 2022 as the “UnArenado Year,” a time to change the narrative surrounding this team, and I still think that’s true. But over the course of last week, I began wondering if I had missed a key element of those involved in this attempt to shift the story: The players.

Here’s when I first noticed it.

After the Rockies defeated the Phillies on Tuesday night, CJ Cron was the subject of a Marc Stout interview. In this midst of that discussion, Cron, who is not an especially loquacious person, said something that struck me enough that I tweeted it.

Renee Dechert @307Renee

Cron just said in the post-game, “Everyone wants to be here. Everyone wants to commit.” No editorializing here. Just sensing a theme.

3:52 AM ∙ Apr 20, 2022


Here’s the full quote and video: “Everyone wants to be here. We want to commit. We want to win ballgames for this city.”

Two points are notable. First, Cron makes clear that he’s made a choice to stay in Denver; second, in mentioning “this city,” he’s tying that decision to the relationship the players have with fans.

Then, on Wednesday, after the Rockies had lost and were probably on a plane to Detroit, Alan Trejo liked the tweet, a suggestion of agreement.

That’s when I decided perhaps this was worth exploring. As it turns out, “I want to be here” is a theme. Consider a few examples:

  • Kris Bryant (April 3, 2022): “We’re in a division that is very, very competitive where they could just roll over and say we don’t really want to sign guys. But they did it with me and Ryan McMahon and Senzatela and Márquez. It says a lot about the people running the show here. I’m so glad this is my home. This is where I want to be.”
  • Kyle Freeland (April 20, 2022): “With Mac signing, I truly started to see everything shaping the way we want it, with Bill’s vision, with Dick’s vision and our front office. Obviously, Kris Bryant’s signing was massive and signing [pitcher Antonio] Senzatela last year. Those pieces started falling into place. I was starting to see the big picture, and it was something I wanted to buy into.”
  • Ryan McMahon (March 24, 2022): “When I sat down and thought about where I wanted to be and who I wanted to play with and who I wanted to be around, everything lined up with here, and I was just really excited that they reached out to me and wanted to do this. And, obviously, adding Kris Bryant helped, the deals we have Márquez and and Senza for at least another what, four or five years? So just knowing that all those guys were going to be around, and hopefully we do some more with some of the other guys here, and I'm sure sure we'll keep getting better.”

The specific language may change, but the sentiment remains the same: I have chosen to be here.

The last two years have surely been embarrassing (if not humiliating) for the Rockies ownership and front office. For fans, they have been demoralizing because they lead to comments like this:

Zach Clanton @Clant1015

I don’t know if Rockies fans, exist…but I’m truly sorry for you all. What are they doing?

2:05 AM ∙ Mar 17, 2022

Rockies fans do, in fact, exist, and they aren’t looking for pity: They’re looking for a winning team.

Perhaps, then, the players, too, feel a need to change the narrative. They are telling their peers on other teams and the media that Coors Field is not some Rocky Mountain Island of Misfit Toys, a team built of players with no other choice.

Rather, these players are asserting agency: That this team isn’t wrought by chaos; that not everyone is looking to leave; that they enjoy playing together; and that they believe they can compete.

We’ll know more about the viability of the 2022 Rockies when their first road trip has ended next week. But let me offer an utterly anecdotal observation about the shifting narrative.

Purple Row Twitter tends to be my fan barometer — the PR feed often finds itself on the receiving end of fan frustration. Since the 2022 season started with the Rockies winning, there’s not been so much “Too bad Dick Monfort paid the Cardinals $50 million to take Nolan Arenado” and “Remember, Trevor Story felt he had to leave to win” and “SELL THE TEAM, DICK,” and “Why did the Rockies sign Kris Bryant for all that money? They need to rebuild!”

Instead, fans are paying attention to what’s happening with the team and less to where those former fan favorites. It turns out, winning matters when it comes to changing the narrative.

Then there are games like this one against the Cubs:

RoxGifsVids @RoxGifsVids

The Rockies turned 5 double plays against the Cubs tonight

3:35 AM ∙ Apr 15, 2022


When the Rockies are doing things like ranking third in turning double plays, the defensive losses of Arenado and Story seem less acute — less personal.

When CJ Cron’s six home runs lead MLB (Nolan Arenado has five), fans start to think less about what was and more about what’s happening now and what may be. They begin to hope and invest in the team.

Right now, the early (and, again, anecdotal) indications suggest that the old narrative surrounding the Rockies is shifting — the players’ statements as well as their play on the field will be essential to the success of this undertaking.

However, it’s early. When the Rockies hit those low points — and they will because that’s how baseball works — then we’ll see how successful the organization has been in redefining itself.

By the way, an important part of the players redefining themselves involves losing the #RoadRockies label they earned in 2021. When a team finishes with a road record of 26-54 and an early possibility of being the worst road team in baseball history, it leaves a mark.

This video from the Rockies’ two-game sweep of the Rangers bears keeping in mind:

Colorado Rockies @Rockies

🗣ROAD ROX W NEVER A DOUBT

3:30 AM ∙ Apr 13, 2022


That the Rockies used this video on their social media shows that the team understands the stakes. That they have recognized this history — indeed, are ridiculing it — and are attempting to set it right is in alignment with “We want to be here.”

Narratives matter.

We’ll see how it goes in Detroit and then Philadelphia.

Share Rockies Pitch by 307Renee: A Colorado Rockies ⚾️ Newsletter


Extended!

  • I thought Mike Petriello’s take was right on the Kyle Freeland extension. Also, I’ve got to say that I’ve found it impossible to envision as with any team but the Rockies — his brand is so tied to being the “hometown kid.”

Mike Petriello @mike_petriello

I like this for the Rockies. I think Freeland's a little overrated in that he's never going to be that 2018 guy again, but he's good enough and it's impossible for them to attract FA SP. If he wants to be there, you have him stay there.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Left-hander Kyle Freeland and the Colorado Rockies are in agreement on a five-year, $64.5 million contract that includes a sixth-year player option, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN. Freeland, a homegrown player and Denver native, is staying home through at least 2026.

8:29 PM ∙ Apr 19, 2022


Down on the Farm

Blake Street Banter ⚾🌮 @blakestbanter

He goes 98-98-96-89 to get the first out. Riley is still nasty

1:42 AM ∙ Apr 22, 2022


Old Friends

  • Some bad news for Greg Holland, but it’s good on the Rangers for letting him get 10 years of service time.

Levi Weaver @ThreeTwoEephus

Greg Holland hit ten years of service time this weekend, and now he’s been DFA’d https://t.co/Q4LtP3thFV

Texas Rangers PR @TXRangersPR

Roster moves for Tuesday: – RHP Jon Gray activated from 10-day Injured List. – RHP Greg Holland designated for assignment. Gray will be the starting pitcher for the Rangers' road trip opener tonight at Seattle.


  • Tom Murphy will always the the former Rockie I’ll wonder about. (Then again, he’s clearly landed well in Seattle.)

Mariners Source @Mariners_Source

You probably won't believe this, but Tom Murphy has the 4th most fWAR for a catcher in Mariners history.

7:07 AM ∙ Apr 16, 2022


What I’m Reading, Watching, and Listening To


Weekend Walk-off

I enjoyed this interview with Randal Grichuk. (Also, RoxPile had a nice pice here on the Rockies’ new outfielder.)

RoxGifsVids @RoxGifsVids

Randal Grichuk talks about playing with the Rockies and more on Pregame Spread

11:54 PM ∙ Apr 19, 2022


It’s also worth noting that Grichuk had been prepped on the Rocky Mountain oysters question that tripped up Kris Bryant last week. Still waiting for the follow up from KB on that one.

Thanks for reading —

Renee


Yes, there are predictions.

Renee Dechert

Apr 8, 2022


Welcome to Opening Day!

The rosters are (mostly) built; spring training is over; and the predictions are out. For the Rockies, the news is (to be polite) grim. Here’s FanGraphs:

Source: FanGraphs

And Keith Law of The Athletic:

Source: [The Athletic](https://theathletic.com/3231780/2022/04/06/mlb-season-projections-playoff-picks-2022/?source=usersharedarticle)

And FiveThirtyEight:

Source: FiveThirtyEight

The outlook is not good. But you knew that.

I want to approach my projections a bit differently and do a (very) rough SWOT analysis that would include strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This strikes me as a more nuanced (and slightly different) approach to the topic at hand. (And for those of you who do this professionally, please bear with my amateur application of the form.)

Strengths: Characteristics that give an organization an advantage over others — Despite the conventional wisdom, the Rockies do have some strengths.

  • The Starting Rotation — This is perhaps the best rotation in the Rockies’ history. Germán Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and Austin Gomber are solid. The Rockies have problems, but the starting rotation is not one of them.
  • They Have Attempted to Address the Issues with Power — Yes, Trevor Story is gone, but in his place are Kris Bryant and Randal Grichuk. If Brendan Rodgers continues to progress, if CJ Cron has a year comparable to the one he had last year, if Ryan McMahon can even things out, and if Hilliard can address the problems with his swing, this lineup can hit. And let’s not forget Connor Joe. Where he fits remains to be seen, but his one one of the most disciplined bats in the lineup.

* They Have Added to the Bullpen — Whether signing Alex Colomé is the piece missing from the bullpen remains to be seen, but bullpens are weird, so who knows? Plus, Ashton Goudeau may prove to be an important addition. * They Have Ryan McMahon’s Defense — McMahon was a Gold Glove finalist and led the league in DRS. Whether he is able to develop the same chemistry with José Iglesias remains to be seen, but third base is going to be fine. * They Have Experience — Simply put, this is not a young team, but the presence of veterans may provide the Rockies with some clubhouse stability as the season grinds on.

Weaknesses: Characteristics that place the organization at a disadvantage relative to others — They are substantial.

  • The Rockies Lack Depth, Particularly with Pitching — Yes, the rotation is solid, but if any one of the starters has injury problems, it will present a challenge that may be insurmountable. Given that Ryan Rolison is now on the 60-day IL, following an injury-ridden 2021, the Rockies have no room for error. In addition, there’s no evidence yet that Chad Kuhl will emerge as a workable fifth starter. Similarly, when Lucas Gilbreath and Robert Stephenson were placed on the IL with COVID, the Rockies found themselves at an early disadvantage. There simply isn’t enough depth.

* They Are Behind in Terms of Analytics and Player Development — The fact that the Rockies have one of the smallest R&D departments in baseball hasn’t changed, and that’s at a time when data has never been more valuable. * They Deal with the Coors Effect — Coors giveth, and Coors taketh away. Over the course of a 162-game season, elevation takes a toll. It would be terrific if the Rockies could use science and move this to the “strengths” section, but so far, that hasn’t been the case.

Opportunities: Elements in the environment that the organization could exploit to its advantage — There are some opportunities.

  • They Have Clint Hurdle — No one knows exactly what Hurdle is doing, but the Rockies seem different since he’s rejoined the organization.
  • Expanded Playoffs — More teams making the postseason this year necessarily expands the Rockies’ opportunities.
  • Charlie Blackmon Is Back in the Leadoff Spot — Blackmon is an exceptional leadoff hitter. This is where his experience shines. I expect him to be as successful there now as he was when working in tandem with DJ LeMahieu. I also expect him to spend more time as a DH than he probably thinks he will right now.

* No One Expects Them to Do Well — When a team is written off, it can work to their advantage. Of course, maybe they’re just a bad team. * Humidors Will Be Universal — I do not know if this will do anything to blunt the Coors Field effect, but I am curious if having more standardized baseballs reduces some of the problems the Rockies have had on the road.

Threats: Elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the organization — This one is easy.

  • The NL West Is Going to Be a Beast — The Dodgers probably have a weaker rotation than they usually do, but it remains one of the best in baseball. They are simply an exceptional organization. In addition, the Padres have made changes and spent money to improve. And, finally, I know the Giants are projected to have a down year, but I expect them to be good again.

Now to predictions.

There’s a reason I don’t gamble: My ability to foretell the future is limited. However, here is my best attempt.

  • The Rockies Are Back in the Top 10 in Terms of Home Runs — Their identity as hitters will return in a big way.
  • It’s Brendan Rodgers’ Year — Kyle Glaser wrote last week that Rodgers was one of the players scouts were most taken with. In 2022, all the pieces fall into place.
  • Kris Bryant Has Himself a Year — Jeff Passan wrote last week that Bryant would exceed 25 homers and be among the league leaders in doubles. I think that happens.
  • Elehuris Montero Is with the Rockies by June 1 — This team is about power, and they will find a way to fit Montero in as a DH.
  • Germán Márquez Is Back — I look for him to have an exceptional season, but the pitching will be a constant struggle.
  • Ryan McMahon Wins a Gold Glove — Sorry, Nolan.
  • Projected Record: 80-82 — Yes, I think the Rockies are around .500 in 2022. It won’t be enough to make the playoffs, but they will be playing relevant baseball in September.
  • Projected NL West: It’s the Dodgers — 1. Dodgers. 2. Giants (who are good but less good than they were in 2021). 3. Rockies. 4. Padres (who can’t get past their bad luck). 5. Diamondbacks.
  • The NL Pennant goes to Atlanta; the AL pennant goes to Toronto.
  • The Blue Jays Win It All — And Raimel Tapia gets a ring.

But what do I know? Feel free to leave your predictions in the comments.


Down on the Farm

  • Given that MiLB players have not yet really settled into their new clubhouses, it’s too early to have much to report. But this on Ezequiel Tovar is notable.

Colorado Rockies @Rockies

Congratulations to Ezequiel Tovar, winner of the 2022 Abby Greer Award! This year, the award was presented by Bud Black & former Rockie, Ryan Spilborghs 🏆

Image

2:04 AM ∙ Apr 2, 2022



Old Friends

  • Jon Gray seems to be finding his stride with the Rangers.

Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

Jon Gray's Nasty Breaking Balls. 🐺

8:49 PM ∙ Apr 3, 2022


  • His name is Rio, and while he’s not longer with the Rockies, Ruiz is having some fun in Korea.

Baseball Brit @BaseballBrit

Here is Rio Ruiz (former Braves, Orioles & Rockies 3B) getting mobbed in Korea. He got a hit & 2 runs in his debut today!

Image

8:45 PM ∙ Apr 2, 2022



Weekend Walk-up

Finally, we have baseball!

Given that Kyle Freeland will pitch Opening Day, it seems appropriate to hear his thoughts on the subject:

DNVR Rockies @DNVR_Rockies

Kyle Freeland on being selected as the #Rockies Opening Day starter and what that honor means to him.

2:35 PM ∙ Apr 2, 2022


I’m headed out to Coors Field in a few hours. See everyone at the ballpark!

Thanks for reading —

Renee


It’s about the present and the future.

Renee Dechert

Mar 18, 2022


“It seemed uncharacteristic from what I've seen in the past.”

— [Charlie Blackmon on the Kris Bryant signing](https://twitter.com/dallentuck/status/1504535961505460235)_

The Rockies haven’t yet made things official, but late on Wednesday afternoon, Jon Heyman beat everyone to the news:

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Breaking: Kris Bryant to Rockies

10:20 PM ∙ Mar 16, 2022


Bryant’s reported to be signing for seven years at $182 million, making it the second-highest contract in Rockies’ history — only Nolan Arenado’s eight-year, $260 million deal has exceeded it. Bryant’s contract also includes a no-trade clause.

I’ve written before about the possibilities of Bryant in purple pinstripes, so I’ll not rehash that here except to say that I like this signing, and the Rockies are better today than they were on Tuesday.

Much of baseball Twitter, however, spent the afternoon befuddled.

Jared Diamond @jareddiamond

I’m thrilled that the pandemic and the lockout hasn’t dethroned the Rockies from the title of Baseball’s Weirdest Team. It’s not even a question. The Rockies are very obviously the Weirdest Team, and that’s even clearer today.

11:51 PM ∙ Mar 16, 2022


And this:

Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN

On a scale of 1 to 10, the industry shock over the Rockies’ deal with Kris Bryant has been turned up to 11.

11:25 PM ∙ Mar 16, 2022


My favorite:

Emma Baccellieri @emmabaccellieri

The Rockies are easier to understand if you stop trying to see them as a baseball team and instead just view them as some kind of elaborate performance art https://t.co/ilHgRbdaH1

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Rockies have made Kris Bryant the priority. They are working hard on it. Not easy for them to contend in that division but still good to see them trying to compete.

12:18 AM ∙ Mar 15, 2022


While no less bemused, Jay Jaffe’s analysis is excellent.

The “why trade Arenado to sign another third baseman?” discourse further confused matters. Those who follow the Rockies know Bryant’s destiny lies in left field, something Bud Black confirmed on Thursday. (That so few acknowledged Ryan McMahon’s stellar play at third indicates how little serious attention the Rockies receive from mainstream baseball media.)

Conventional wisdom and “lol Rockies” aside, Colorado’s logic in signing Kris Bryant is straightforward and not terrible — though given the team’s history with expensive free agents, skepticism is warranted.

The Rockies Believe They Can Compete

Cue the punchline: “The Rockies think they’re just a few pieces away from contending.” But look at what they’ve done in the offseason, and the plan becomes clear, especially with the expanded postseason format.

First, they shored up a solid rotation by adding Chad Kuhl, now the fifth starter. Tyler Paddor has written a nice analysis of Kuhl, but I would add one thing: The fact that the Rockies added a pitcher instead of promoting Peter Lambert, Ryan Rolison, or Ryan Feltner underscores their intention to contend. Otherwise, why pay $3 million?

To be fair, much of baseball has overlooked the accomplishments of this rotation, but consider the numbers:

Mario @DeGenZGZ

@PurpleRow @eriiclindberg Sure! @eriiclindberg Márquez – career 115 ERA+ Freeland – career 117 ERA+ Gomber – career 106 ERA+ Senzatela – career 102 ERA+ (119 since start of 2020). All four members of their primary rotation are, at worst above average, and at best (Márquez) a borderline ace.

11:08 PM ∙ Mar 16, 2022

The Rockies themselves know what they have done, and they’re confident. As Germán Márquez told Thomas Harding earlier this week, “We’re going to the playoffs.”

Only time will reveal whether Márquez is correct, but these starting pitchers have absolutely earned a run at postseason play.

Second, the addition of José Iglesias provides another indication that the Rockies intend to try for the expanded playoffs. Otherwise, the Rockies would have promoted Alan Trejo. The same is true of the Alex Colomé signing. A rebuilding team would allow Jordan Sheffield and Robert Stephenson to pitch those innings.

These moves are modest, and many have questioned their effectiveness, which is fair. But if nothing else, they reflect a team trying to improve and compete.

The Rockies’ big move, however, was the Bryant signing. The Rockies needed a power bat to prove they were serious, and they got one in Kris Bryant.

The Rockies Need a New Face of the Franchise

When the lockout was ending, I searched for a Rockies GIFs to tweet in celebration ... but there weren’t many. Nolan Arenado has moved on; CJ Cron isn’t especially GIF-able (apparently by design); the best Ryan McMahon GIFs involve Trevor Story; Brendan Rodgers isn’t quite there yet; and pitchers only make an appearance every five days.

Patrick Saunders posed the question like this:

Patrick Saunders @psaundersdp

Legitimate questioned posed to me by a #Rockies fan. Excluding 1993, have the Rox ever entered spring training with less star power? (Barring signing a power hitter in the coming days).

5:41 PM ∙ Mar 13, 2022


In the age of social media, this is no small problem, especially for a team like the Rockies that depends on filling seats for revenue.

Currently, the default face of the franchise is Charlie Blackmon, who, to be fair, has lots of excellent GIFs and a brand enhanced by “Your Love” and a beard and a mullet. But Blackmon is aging out of that role as the Rockies look to the future. In fact, Blackmon’s comment, “It seemed uncharacteristic from what I've seen in the past,” underscores the relic he is becoming.

Enter Kris Bryant, the future face of the franchise. He’s a proven champion — granted, not with the Rockies, but a ring’s a ring — and he’s going to hit some awesome home runs at Coors Field. He’s viral content waiting to happen, the kind of player fans can rally around.

See for yourself — the deal isn’t even official yet, and Bryant is generating earned media:

Mike Petriello @mike_petriello

Honestly no idea why I did this, but I did, and now you have to see it

Image

1:34 AM ∙ Mar 17, 2022


That $182 million the Rockies spent is not just for a great baseball player. It’s also for this — and, by extension, to keep the seats full at Coors Field.

Don’t forget, too, that the Rockies are attempting to repair a badly fractured relationship with fans. Kris Bryant is a message to them: It’s a new day.

The Rockies Are Investing in the Future

The Bryant signing marks the beginning of what’s next, and what’s next are those players in Low-A: Zac Veen, Drew Romo, Ezequiel Tovar, Brenton Doyle, Benny Montgomery, Chris McMahon, Jaden Hill, Helcris Olivarez, and all those young players the Rockies have signed that we don’t know enough about yet.

Yes, the Kris Bryant contract is long — probably too long. But the Rockies are looking for that veteran player to model for those youngsters a way forward. No more signing Matt Holliday or Ian Desmond or Carlos González to provide veteran leadership. That’s part of Bryant’s job now.

Besides, from a résumé standpoint, Bryant’s is tough to beat: Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, four-time All-Star, and World Series winner in an epic bit of baseball history. Name a better role model for Veen and Montgomery, who the Rockies surely hope will be the Blake Street Bombers 2.0.

You can’t.

Kris Bryant & the Baby Bombers. You heard it here first.

Final Thoughts

I like the Kris Bryant signing, despite his age and injury history and the Rockies’ track record with expensive signings. I think there’s more going on here than the Rockies closing a deal they failed to make in 2013.

And I have a question: To what extent is Clint Hurdle making the calls? These signings have been viewed as the beginnings of the Bill Schmidt Era, but it feels a bit Hurdle-esque to me.

I don’t know if these signings are enough, but I do know it’s better for the Rockies and fans and baseball.


Old Friends

  • Adam Ottavino has signed with the Mets for one year at $4 million — and he has thoughts about the Yankees.
  • Yency Almonte has moved on, which is good for him and probably less good for the Rockies.

Fabian Ardaya @FabianArdaya

Dodgers have signed right-handed reliever Yency Almonte to a minor league deal with a NRI to big league camp, source tell The Athletic. Will make $1.5 million if he makes the big league club.

12:14 AM ∙ Mar 14, 2022


Jesse Rogers @JesseRogersESPN

Cubs in agreement with reliever Mychal Givens, per source. 1-year deal worth $5 mil. Bonuses could get him to $6.25 mil. Was with Colorado and Cin last year. Has closing experience. Could end up in the 9th inning. They need someone for that role.

9:15 PM ∙ Mar 17, 2022



What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To

Denver Broncos @Broncos

Colorado 🤝 @DangeRussWilson It was always meant to be. cc: @Rockies

11:10 PM ∙ Mar 17, 2022


Weekend Walk-off

The most recent CBA with its adoption of the designated hitter must have been difficult for Germán Márquez, a pitcher who loves to rake. Patrick Lyons asked him about it:

Patrick Lyons @PatrickDLyons

He might be pitcher-only now, but Germán Márquez wouldn’t mind being the #Rockies 5th bat off the bench.

10:00 PM ∙ Mar 14, 2022

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing Márquez take a few swings in BP.

Thanks for reading —

Renee


The contracts are also very Rockies moves.

Renee Dechert

Mar 13, 2022


On Saturday, the Rockies entered the hot stove chat, signing shortstop José Iglesias and reliever Alex Colomé. Jeff Bridich may be gone, but both moves were quintessential Rockies.

They took a chance on two veteran players coming off down years, which raises this question: Will these signings be 2019 Daniel Murphy or 2021 CJ Cron? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, consider what we know so far.

José Iglesias

Let’s start with the Rockies’ attempt to replace Trevor Story.

Mike Rodriguez | Univision 🍥 @mikedeportes

The Cuban SS Jose Iglesias and the Colorado Rockies are closing a one year deal right now waiting on the amount of money ✍🏽 @hgomez27 @JeffPassan @jonmorosi @BNightengale @JonHeyman

11:57 PM ∙ Mar 12, 2022


A native of Cuba, in 2008, Iglesias defected from the Cuban junior national team while playing in Canada.

1

In September 2008, he signed with the Red Sox as an international amateur free agent. Iglesias made his MLB debut in May 2011 with the Red Sox.

In July 2013, he was traded to the Tigers, a team he stayed with through 2018, earning All-Star honors in 2015. He signed an MiLB contract with the Reds in 2019 that led to a roster spot, and in 2020, he signed with the Orioles, where he posted the best offensive numbers of his career (.956 OPS).

He exercised his option to stay in Baltimore and was promptly traded to the Angels in December 2020. Iglesias played in 114 games for the Angels, hitting .259 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs for a slashline of .259/.295/.375 and an 82 wRC+. On September 3, 2021, he was released by the Angels; the Red Sox signed him as a second baseman on September 6.

If there one thing Red Sox players and blogs agree on, it’s Iglesias’ role in Boston’s run to the post season. In 64 plate appearances, Iglesias went .356/.406/.508 for a 148 wRC+.

Matt Collins puts it like this:

We’re talking about a tiny sample here, with Iglesias only coming to the plate 64 times, so I’m certainly not going to waste my breath speaking to the sustainability of his performance. That’s besides the point. What matters is what actually happened, and what actually happened is that Iglesias provided a spark and many a huge at bat when it seemed like everything was crumbling, and was improbably the stabilizer this team so desperately needed.

Because he signed after the trade deadline, Iglesias was ineligible for the Sox postseason roster. However, he continued with the Sox in a new capacity.

“Officially, I am the chauffeur of the laundry cart,“ Iglesias told AP Sports. “That was very fun in Tampa. They keep me very, very busy. And I hope I get busier over the course of the playoffs.”

Source: Getty Images

Good Clubhouse Guy stuff aside — and I’m someone who’s believes chemistry matters — Collins added this: “He is simply one of the best defensive infielders in the game.”

See for yourself:

Iglesias, now 32, is clearly on the downside of his career, but it’s easy to see what the Rockies like. According to Thomas Harding, the Rockies “tracked Iglesias all last season.”

On one hand, he’s not going to replace Trevor Story — it’s unrealistic to expect that he will. Here’s how they compared offensively in 2021:

Source: FanGraphs

The contrast is stark. Iglesias is not going to strike out a lot; he’s not going to walk very much; and he’s going to put balls in play with below-average power. (Translation: Raimel Tapia 2.0.)

He’s with the Rockies for his defense. While Iglesias has historically been above average defensively, FanGraphs shows him with a DRS of -22 in 2021, by far his worst season.

When asked about his career-high 16 errors, Iglesias said, “Not to find excuses, but energy has a lot to do with it . . . For me, I’m not concerned at all. Zero concern about my defense or my stats on defense. It’s something I definitely have to improve number-wise. But I know it’s all about energy for me.”

Perhaps playing in Colorado will provide a needed energy shift, and the Rockies are surely hoping Iglesias will prove that 2021 was an outlier.

The contract is for one year at $5 million.

Clearly, the Rockies’ shortstop of the future is Ezequiel Tovar. Iglesias is a placeholder and a veteran clubhouse presence. Otherwise, the Rockies probably would have gone with Alan Trejo or Kyle Holder — and given Iglesias’ age and injury history, we may see Trejo or Holder in Denver before the season ends.

ZiPS projects Iglesias as slashing .286/.320/.409 for a wRC+ of 97 and an fWAR of 1.9. Those aren’t Trevor Story numbers, but maybe they will be enough.

As signings go, this one is fine, but it’s also a testament to how badly the Rockies have botched their relationships with talents like Troy Tulowitzki, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story.

Alex Columé

In addition to signing José Iglesias, the Rockies made another move:

Enrique Rojas/ESPN @Enrique_Rojas1

Source: Dominican reliever Alex Colomé has a one-year agreement with the #Rockies, pending physical Fuente: Relevista dominicano Alex Colomé tienen acuerdo por un año con #Rockies, pendiente a prueba física. Tiene 155 salvamentos en MLB, incluyendo 47 en 2017 con #Rays

1:35 AM ∙ Mar 13, 2022


A native of the Dominican Republic, Alex Colomé is 33. When he was 18 in 2007, the right-handed pitcher signed with the Rays as an amateur free agent. In 2013, he made his debut with the Rays, and in 2016, he became their full-time closer. That same year, he was named an All-Star.

Columé stayed with the Rays until May 2018 when he was traded to the Mariners; in November, he was traded to the White Sox, appearing in 21 games and compiling an 0.81 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.

He spent 2021 with the Twins, where Columé earned a 4.15 ERA and a 1.400 WHiP in 65 innings. He struck out 58 and walked 23. However, those overall numbers were skewed by a ghastly April. From May 1 through the end of the season, Colome posted a 3.51 ERA and a 1.314 WHiP in 56.1 innings. Still, the Twins declined a mutual option, instead buying him out for $1.25 million. (Read John Foley’s analysis here.)

Columé was a lights-out closer earlier in his career. He’s earned 155 career saves, the fourth-most in MLB, with a career ERA+ of 133.

He relies on a four-seam fastball (94 mph) and a cutter (90 mph). However, as his velocity has declined, Columé has increasingly relied in ground balls rather than strikeouts. He has a 53.4% GBR over the last two seasons, which is surely a reason the Rockies were interested in signing him. How his cutter will play at elevation is a separate question.

To give you a sense of his pitches, here he is in 2020 with the White Sox:

Like Iglesias, the Rockies have been watching Columé for awhile. Thomas Harding explains, “After the ’17 season, Colomé was on the Rockies’ radar, but he ended up with the Mariners. Then, the Rockies signed Greg Holland, who led the National League in saves in 2018 as the club made the postseason for the first time since 2009.”

Here’s how Colomé compares with the Rockies’ 2021 closers — and notice innings pitched:

Source: FanGraphs

Who will close for the Rockies? Stay tuned.

An added bonus is player development. As Harding writes, “By putting experience in the late innings, the Rockies will have more development opportunities with a crew of hard-throwing right-handers that includes Jordan Sheffield, Justin Lawrence and Julian Fernández, all of whom debuted in the Majors last year and showed velocity that could make them late-inning arms.”

The details of the Columé signing are not yet known though his contract with the Twins was for one year at $6.25 million.

If Columé and Iglesias can have a comeback years, these are good moves for the Rockies — think of them as this year’s CJ Cron. If not, they’re Daniel Murphy all over again.

Scott Schebler

The Rockies also signed outfielder Scott Schebler, 31, to an MiLB contract. Scheblier has earned a career .237/.314/.437 slash line over seven seasons. He has pop, but injuries are a problem.

Here’s the swing, in case you’re interested:

Scott Schebler:

mlb.comScott Schebler’s 2-run home run | 03/12/2021Scott Schebler crushes a two-run home run over the left-field wall, doubling the Angels’ lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the 5th inning5:13 AM ∙ Mar 13, 2022

This signing strikes me as an insurance policy in the event that the Rockies cannot sign one of the outfield bats they have said they are pursuing. But Schebler seems more like a prayer than a plan.

And there’s this:

Just G @gman5531

@PurpleRow The pride of Shueyville Iowa!

12:55 AM ∙ Mar 13, 2022

You read it here first.

Final Thoughts

Bill Schmidt has said that the Rockies needed to sign a shortstop, a reliever, and a power-hitting outfielder. So far, they are two for three albeit through some Dollar Store signings. (The Rockies are all about trying to get a few extra innings out of players whose best days are behind them.)

Whether Kyle Schwarber or Kris Bryant will sign in Colorado remains unknown though I’m skeptical.

It’s worth noting that the Rockies’ timing is cosmically off. They have developed the best rotation in the club’s history but cannot establish an offense. For a team playing half its games at Coors Field, this is extraordinary.

These signings strike me as “doing something,” an attempt to prove to fans that the Rockies are, indeed, trying to contend. They have the added benefit of providing leadership for younger players. Meanwhile, fans wait for the next window of contention, perhaps in 2024 when the players in High-A arrive at Coors. As for 2022, it will serve as a reminder to fans that when the Rockies finally put together the rotation, they failed to keep together their offense.

Don’t call it a “rebuild” — except that it is.

Thanks for reading —

Renee

1

Iglesias became a naturalized US citizen in 2018. Read more here. It’s a great story.


Or the problems with “lol Rockies content.”

Renee Dechert

Feb 25, 2022


Last week, my copy of Baseball Prospectus: The Essential Guide to the 2022 Season arrived. Thumbing through The Essential Guide remains a pre-season treat, a promise of things to come (assuming the lockout is resolved at some point). This year’s issue features a title essay on the Rockies written by Connor Farrell, and the accompanying player comments — organized alphabetically — are provided by Justin Klugh and the BP staff. (The cover is flat-out awesome.)

I settled in, working my way through the Colorado Rockies “Hitters” section: Charlie Blackmon, CJ Cron, Elias Díaz, Brenton Doyle, Jameson Hannah, Sam Hilliard, Connor Joe, Grant Lavigne . . . .

Wait. Someone is missing.

If you’re looking for Garrett Hampson, the player who spent the most innings playing center field for the Rockies in 2021, you would have to flip past the hitters and the pitchers to the “Lineouts” section. Actually, let me show you because finding Garrett Hampson requires a bit of digging.

Source: Baseball Prospectus

I get the breezy style that is a Baseball Prospectus hallmark, but giving Chris Owings, who had 50 plate appearances in 2021, a write-up in the main “Hitters” section while placing Garrett Hampson (494 plate appearances) after Matt Adams and other players who have either been DFA’d or have yet to make their debut? Limiting his profile to one line of stats and fewer than three lines of text? Burying him at the end of the Rockies section? That seems like a significant oversight because it doesn’t take much research to realize that Garrett Hampson (not Sam Hilliard) was the Rockies’ primary center fielder in 2021.

As a quick FanGraphs search reveals, in 2021, Hampson logged the third-most innings of any Rockies outfielder, mostly in center field. In fact, he logged twice as many innings there as Sam Hilliard.

Source: FanGraphs

Let’s go back further. Here are Rockies center fielders with a minimum of 150 innings since 2015:

Source: FanGraphs

After Charlie Blackmon, no recent Rockie has spent more time in center than Garrett Hampson has — and it’s not close.

Oddly enough, Baseball Prospectus was not alone in this oversight. Last week, Justin Choi published “Here’s an Unexpected Rockies Statistic” with this passage:

Source: FanGraphs

Unmentioned in the entire article? Garrett Hampson.

Okay, But What’s Your Point?

Oddly enough, this piece is not about Garrett Hampson — though I still feel compelled to mention that according to Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average, Hampson was a pretty good center fielder:

Turns out, he was the 15th-best outfielder in baseball as ranked by Outs Above Average. (The next closest Rockie in terms of OAA? In 2017, Gerardo Parra was ranked 29th with an OAA of 3 — and not in center field.)

Actually, the focus of this piece is what I’ve come to see as “lol Rockies” content. It’s those lazy takes, the ones that don’t bother to understand the effects of playing at elevation (and instead refer to “altitude”); the ones that assume the Rockies are tanking, when the reality is considerably more complex and mysterious; the ones that prefer to treat the Rockies as a punchline.

Nathan Bernhardt @jonbernhardt

the Rockies and Pirates have stepped up their tanking game, Orioles are getting worried

10:08 PM ∙ Mar 27, 2021

I agree that the Rockies are not a very good baseball team — an 852-990 record since 2010 is bad — but they, like any professional baseball team, deserve to be taken seriously.

Why Does It Matter?

The genre is maddening because frequently, these takes result in writers not really looking at the data because they’re too busy workshopping the next zinger. It’s like being trapped at a baseball-centric poetry slam.

To be clear, yes, the Rockies’ front office has problems, and, yes, those problems are significant, and, yes, the Rockies’ front office is often deservedly the punchline of jokes — I’ll be the first person to agree.

None of this, however, excuses incomplete player analysis.

It’s why I appreciate the writing of Patrick Saunders, Thomas Harding, and Nick Groke: These writers understand the Rockies are not a good baseball team, but they are bad in strange (and kind of interesting) ways. Other examples are Mike Petrielloand Grant Brisbee (whose The Essential Guide 2020 essay on the Rockies is exceptional). That is, these writers produce serious analysis, even about a bad baseball team.

Besides, clever analysis doesn’t look especially smart (much less clever) if it, say, overlooks Garrett Hampson as the Rockies’ primary center fielder.


Down on the Farm

Benny Montgomery @benny_mont

@PurpleRow Rockies fans get a pass. You may make this joke🤝

7:33 PM ∙ Feb 23, 2022


Old Friends


What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To

* Dan Szymborski’s “Projecting Seiya Suzuki” (FanGraphs) — My enthusiasm for Suzuki is well known. Szymborski projects Suzuki’s transition to MLB. * Ken Rosenthal’s “Help Me Fix This’: Inside Matt Carpenter’s Cross-country Quest to Remake His Swing” (The Athletic) — This is a great story (with appearances by Matt Holliday and Nolan Arenado). * Lindsey Berra talks with Dough Chadwick, a mental skills coach with the Rockies.


Weekend Walk-off

Speaking of Nolan Arenado (yes, I know he’s no longer a Rockie), Driveline tweeted this earlier in the week:

Driveline Baseball @DrivelineBB

Nolan Arenado stopped by and hit some absolute nukes in short box.

12:43 AM ∙ Feb 23, 2022


Still miss that guy.

Thanks for reading —

Renee


And that’s bad for the game.

Renee Dechert

Feb 18, 2022


Last Sunday morning, Mets pitcher Trevor May tweeted this:

Trevor “IamTrevorMay” May @IamTrevorMay

boutsta take down a wither before the super bowl

twitch.tvTwitchTwitch is the world’s leading video platform and community for gamers.5:15 PM ∙ Feb 13, 2022

Before he started playing Minecraft, however, May offered a 10-minute tutorial on the state of negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA, which you can watch here. When his baseball career has ended, May has a future in teaching given his exceptional ability to explain abstract concepts. He took all of the lockout’s legal language and contractual terms and described them in ways followers could understand, using familiar players as examples to illustrate his points. 

For example, when asked about adding the designated hitter to the NL, May, essentially rolled his eyes, because, really, who cares given everything that’s going on? Then he explained why adopting the DH is good, citing Jacob deGrom as an example, before returning to his real topic, which was the lockout. Following that, he played Minecraft for awhile. Even though not everyone in the chat agreed, May’s perspective was insightful. (Consider me a Trevor May fan.)

I’ve followed the MLB lockout but avoided writing about it because, really, I just don’t know enough to provide insightful commentary. For the real analysis, read those who know this area better than I do. But between the coverage of experts and Trevor May’s Twitch streams and some reading I’m doing for a fall class, I wanted to throw out an idea that I’ve been mulling for a bit: What we’re seeing in baseball now is less about the owners’ greed — though that’s clearly a key factor — than it is about something else.

Marc Normandin, who’s written extensively about labor issues, argues that the lockout is as much about choice as it is about money. He explains: 

All of these are about increasing choice. Baseball is already philosophically in conflict with the nation it represents as a pastime, through its institution of a draft; few other occupations prevent a person from deciding who they work for. Imagine earning that college degree and learning that you’ve been assigned to a corporation six states over with a terrible reputation for treating its employees, and yet we all accept that dozens of people are appointed as Colorado Rockies every year. And then being told that if you want to keep using that degree, you’d better learn to like it: quit, and it’s time to go sell cars.

Then, Normandin adds, “The owners, on the other hand, do not want the players to have more choice. Teams are thrilled with the status quo, because they have benefited immensely from it.”

The Rockies “appointment” comment aside, Normandin, I think, gets closer to the real issue because if the players have more autonomy (a word I prefer to “choice”), they have more power. This whole lockout, I would argue, is about the owners wanting absolute control over the game in its entirety. Part of that — okay, a lot of it — is about money; part of that is about very wealthy men enjoying the “sport” (I use the term loosely) of beating everyone because of greed or boredom or hubris. None of this, however, has to do with improving the game of baseball or giving fans a better experience. (Where Dick Monfort and his purple trainers stand in all of this remains unknown.)

In addition to decades of labor conflict between MLB and the MLBPA that saw the owners gaining power at the players’ expense, the owners revealed their intentions last year when they contracted Minor League Baseball under their “One Baseball” plan. (The name itself is a bit of a tell.) They provided noble reasons: “We can pay players more, and they will have better facilities and training conditions.” The fiction of all that generosity disappeared, however, when potential problems emerged with the housing policy, and then in a court filing that revealed MLB’s argument: They should not be forced to pay MiLB players for Spring Training games. 

Evan Drellich @EvanDrellich

MLB argues for minor leaguers to stay unpaid in spring training: “It is the players that obtain the greater benefit from the training opportunities that they are afforded than the clubs, who actually just incur the cost of having to provide that training”

theathletic.comMLB argues for minor leaguers to remain unpaid in spring training, citing life skills gainedThe argument was part of a broader push by MLB to toss an eight-year-old lawsuit brought by minor leaguers over their compensation.3:46 AM ∙ Feb 12, 2022


In the meantime, players took to social media to describe just how bad it is, while Brittany Ghiroli added additional information on the plight of Minor League players. Turns out, the owners really weren’t being magnanimous last year when they contracted 43 MiLB teams . . . .

Rather, the current lockout strikes me as something else, and I think Joe Sheehan put it best:

Joe Sheehan @joe_sheehan

The owners have decided they’ll either keep their dominant status quo or not have baseball. Either way, they don’t care.

7:19 PM ∙ Feb 12, 2022


“[K]eep their dominant status.” In other words, it’s about power. Similarly, consider this from Joe Posnanski’s newsletter:

“At some point, surely, they will get the players to cave properly — this is, after all, how they got to be billionaires in the first place.” The owners have more money than they can spend in a lifetime. But the sport of it, the “winning,” the rush of absolute authority, that’s something money cannot buy.

I’ve been thinking about this while re-reading Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts, one of the foundational texts on leadership. I’m not here to give you a workshop (though Brown is a charismatic speaker). But she includes a taxonomy of power taken from Just Associates that seems relevant in light of the lockout:

Right now, MLB owners are a “power over” operation; the players wish to move to a slightly more “power with” model. That’s what Trevor May (and other players) are saying. That so many fans are willing to subscribe to the “power over” model I find a bit astonishing. Who trusts the owners to make choices in the best interests of the game given their recent stewardship? (I’ve written before about why I think so many fans tend to side with the owners.)

Trevor May made an important point on Twitch: Fans want entertainment; they feel “entitled” (his word) to entertainment. Players are trying to gain a greater (not even equal) share of the revenue and improve the financial system of the game for themselves and for those who will follow them. 

It’s been clear for some time that the owners aren’t interested in resolving anything. They are playing a long game because that’s what power over requires, and if it means taking a financial hit in the short term, they’ll do it (despite claims of poverty). As Hannah Keyser explains, “The problem isn’t that baseball is a business; the problem is that the business of baseball has become increasingly divorced from the on-field product.” The owners are trying to use this CBA to solidify all that power over.

As a fan, I’m on Team Power With. 


Down on the Farm

  • This is an interesting signing. The well traveled Lee is a former Dodgers’ first-round draft pick. Jordan Sheffield 2.0, perhaps?

MiLB-Transactions @tombaseball29

#Rockies have signed RHP Zach Lee to a minor league contract.

3:47 AM ∙ Feb 13, 2022



Old Friends

Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 @DanielKimW

Meanwhile in Korea… #HanwhaEagles #BlueJays @MTauchman @NickKingham @HyunJinRyu99 #KBO #MLB

Image

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2:14 PM ∙ Feb 16, 2022


What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To


Weekend Walk-off

It’s good to see Kyle Freeland throwing again.

KingofJUCO @KingofJUCO

Caught Colorado Rockies Kyle Freeland. My guy throws 5 pitches and was dotting with all of them lmaooo One of the easiest pens I’ve caught by far. Can’t wait til the baseball season starts LFG @KFREE_21

10:06 PM ∙ Feb 13, 2022


Hopefully, we can soon see him throwing at Spring Training. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic.

Thanks for reading —

Renee

@307Renee


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