- The Rockies’ managerial search is discussed by Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post as part of his own reader maibag. Saunders feels the team’s new skipper should come from outside the organization in order to bring a fresh perspective. It seems like Colorado is more apt to hire a manager who leans more towards the front office’s analytical mindset. Former manager Walt Weiss “embraced the statistics and analytics to a large degree,” though ultimately preferred to rely on gut-level calls and felt he was being interfered with by the front office. The well-documented discord between Weiss and GM Jeff Bridich also didn’t help things, as you might expect.
Dodgers lefty Rich Hill is one of the more unique players we’ll ever see, and it’s his unfathomable transactional path that makes his current performance all the more amazing. SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee pens an interesting piece in honor of a hurler whose success nobody saw coming when he was suiting up for the Long Island Ducks last year. Hill just carved up the Cubs last night in game three of the NLCS, striking out six and allowing two hits and no runs over a half-dozen frames. That outing bolsters an already-intriguing free agent resume for the 36-year-old.
Here’s more from out west:
- The Dodgers represent a unique compilation of talent, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes. Los Angeles managed to cover for an unbelievable number of injuries — though, to be fair, at least some were anticipated given the team’s risky investments (Hill included) — and still managed to take the NL West. Despite near-constant change in the major league roster and its in-game deployment, the club has thrived and seemingly hit its stride at the right time.
- Across town, the Angels are holding out at least some hope for infielder Roberto Baldoquin despite two forgettable campaigns, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Injuries have kept him off the field and limited his developmental opportunities, though Fletcher notes that conditioning may be partially to blame. Certainly, what the team has seen hasn’t been promising. The 22-year-old, who signed on for an $8MM bonus that nearly doubled with penalties and restricted the organization’s international spending, has stalled out at High-A with a composite .219/.269/.267 batting line over the last two years. But the Halos developmental staff says that Baldoquin works hard, with coaches suggesting that he has at least shown enough in the field to warrant the continued investment of resources into his future.
- While the Rangers and the City of Arlington have maintained that the costs of their new stadium project will be split evenly, WFAA-TV has found several factors which significantly complicate that characterization. Following up on a prior report that suggests tax revenues may be diverted to the team, shifting the burden away from the Rangers and onto the city’s taxpayers, the most recent report outlines other significant ways in which anticipated revenue will flow to the club’s coffers. Stadium naming rights and seat licenses — both highly valuable commodities — would flow to the club despite the fact that the city is set to own the ballpark itself. In the aggregate, the news station assesses the split in real costs at about $1.675 billion for the city (including interest on a bond issue to fund it) versus $500MM for the team. These revelations, which are disputed by Arlington mayor Jeff Williams, come as voting polls show a tight split in opinion on the upcoming referendum. (For opposing viewpoints, see here and here for just a few examples.)
- One major question for the Rockies this winter is how to handle the catching position, as Thomas Harding of MLB.com covers in response to a reader question. Colorado does see improvement in the glovework of Tom Murphy, but at present there’s a gulf between his pitch framing ability and that of incumbent part-timer Tony Wolters. Of course, free agent-to-be Nick Hundley does not excel in that area either, which perhaps suggests the team will be willing to move on from him this winter.
We’re just a few months away from this winter’s Rule 5 draft, so it makes sense to take a look back and see how things shook out from the 2015 selections. Several organizations found useful players, even if the most recent class didn’t include an Odubel Herrera-esque breakout sensation. Some of the most recent draftees have probably locked up MLB jobs again for 2017, though others who stuck on a major league roster all year may head back to the minors for further development. (Once a player’s permanent control rights have been secured, his new organization is free to utilize optional assignments as usual for future years.)
Here’s a roundup of the 2015 draft class with the 2016 season in the books:
- Tyler Goeddel, OF, kept by Phillies from Rays: The 23-year-old struggled with the aggressive move to the big leagues, carrying a .192/.258/.291 batting line in 234 trips to the plate, but showed enough for the rebuilding Phillies to hold onto him all year long.
- Luis Perdomo, RHP, kept by Padres (via Rockies) from Cardinals: It didn’t look good early for Perdomo, but he showed better after moving to the rotation and ended with a rather promising 4.85 ERA over twenty starts. Though he struggled to contain the long ball, and only struck out 6.4 per nine, Perdomo sported a nifty 59.0% groundball rate on the year.
- Joey Rickard, OF, kept by Orioles from Rays: After opening the year with a bang, Rickard faded to a .268/.319/.377 batting line on the year but held his roster spot in Baltimore. He ended the season on the DL with a thumb injury, though, and may end up at Triple-A for some added seasoning.
- Joe Biagini, RHP, kept by Blue Jays from Giants: The only Rule 5 pick to appear in the postseason, Biagini was a great find for Toronto. He ended with 67 2/3 innings of 3.06 ERA pitching, with 8.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, and now looks like a potential fixture in the Jays’ relief corps.
- Matthew Bowman, RHP, kept by Cardinals from Mets: Bowman rounds out a trio of impressive relievers. He contributed 67 2/3 innings with a 3.46 ERA and 6.9 BB/9 against 2.7 BB/9 to go with a monster 61.7% groundball rate.
Retained By Other Means
- Deolis Guerra, RHP, re-signed by Angels (who selected him from Pirates) after being outrighted: Guerra was in an unusual spot since he had previously been outrighted off of the Bucs’ 40-man roster when he was selected, meaning he didn’t need to be offered back. Los Angeles removed him from the major league roster and then brought him back on a minor league deal, ultimately selecting his contract. Though he was later designated and outrighted by the Halos, Guerra again returned and largely thrived at the major league level, contributing 53 1/3 much-needed pen frames with a 3.21 ERA on the back of 6.1 K/9 against just 1.2 BB/9.
- Jabari Blash, OF, acquired by Padres (who acquired Rule 5 rights from Athletics) from Mariners: Blash’s intriguing tools weren’t quite ready for the majors, but San Diego struck a deal to hold onto him and was surely impressed with his showing at Triple-A. In his 229 plate appearances there, Blash swatted 11 home runs but — more importantly — carried a .415 OBP with a much-improved 66:41 K/BB ratio.
- Ji-Man Choi, 1B, outrighted by Angels after Orioles declined return: The 25-year-old scuffled in the bigs but was rather impressive at the highest level of the minors, where he walked nearly as often as he struck out and put up a .346/.434/.527 slash with five home runs in 227 plate appearances.
- Jake Cave, OF, returned from Reds to Yankees: After failing to crack Cinci’s roster out of camp, Cave impressed at Double-A but slowed at the highest level of the minors (.261/.323/.401 in 354 plate appearances) upon his return to the New York organization.
- Evan Rutckyj, LHP, returned from Braves to Yankees: Sent back late in camp, the 24-year-old struggled in limited action on the Yanks’ farm after missing most of the season with elbow issues.
- Josh Martin, RHP, returned from Padres to Indians: In his first attempt at Triple-A, Martin posted 66 frames of 3.55 ERA pitching with 8.2 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9.
- Daniel Stumpf, LHP, returned from Phillies to Royals: Slowed by a PED suspension, Stumpf was bombed in a brief MLB stint with the Phils but dominated at Double-A upon his return to K.C., posting a 2.11 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 21 1/3 innings.
- Chris O’Grady, LHP, returned from Reds to Angels: Sent back in late March, O’Grady compiled a 3.48 ERA over 95 2/3 innings in the upper minors, though he performed much better as a Double-A starter than he did as a Triple-A reliever.
- Zack Jones, RHP, returned from Brewers to Twins: The 25-year-old was out with a shoulder injury for most of the year, and ended up being sent back to Minnesota in late June, but has shown swing-and-miss stuff when healthy.
- Blake Smith, RHP, returned from Padres to White Sox: Smith ended up making a brief MLB debut upon his return to Chicago, but spend most of the year pitching well at Triple-A Charlotte, where he ran up a 3.53 ERA in 71 1/3 innings with 9.5 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9.
- Colin Walsh, INF, returned from Brewers to Athletics: After struggling badly in his major league stint with the Brewers, Walsh went to Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate and put up a .259/.384/.388 bating line over 245 plate appearances.
- It’s time for the Rockies to start spending heavily in hopes of making a playoff push, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Saunders cites Olney, who notes the recent correlation between spending and winning, with the Indians being the only team with a below-median payroll to make the playoffs. Whether some of Saunders’ proposed moves would actually propel the Rockies to the postseason is debatable — he suggests, for example, that the Rockies ought to consider sending Charlie Blackmon to St. Louis for Matt Adams and Trevor Rosenthal, should such a deal be offered. Adams’ power would likely play well at Coors Field, but the Rockies would sorely miss Blackmon, who joined Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu as one of the team’s best players in 2016.
Former Astros skipper and current Braves special assistant Bo Porter is receiving at least some consideration for the Rockies’ open managerial position, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. The report identifies a number of other possibilities on a growing list of names who appear to be on Colorado’s radar.
Another former Astros’ manager, current Indians bench coach Brad Mills, has also come up. His Cleveland staff mate, first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr., is another name to watch. Obviously, neither of those possible candidates can be pursued in earnest at present, with the Indians just opening play in the ALCS.
Two other bench coaches who could draw interest from the Rockies are Dave Martinez of the Cubs, who also is busy with his current position, and Ron Wotus of the Giants. We heard earlier today that Wotus had received contact from a team with a managerial opening. Given that the Diamondbacks — the other team with an opening — haven’t yet resolved their front office situation, it seems reasonable to suspect that it was the Rockies who came calling.
Today’s report significantly expands the group of names tied in some way to the Rockies’ top dugout post. Last we checked in, the scuttlebutt was that former Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke (most recently of the Angels), former Padres manager Bud Black (ditto), Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, Braves first base coach Eddie Perez, and Rockies Triple-A skipper Glenallen Hill had some form of connection to the gig — though in some cases, the reporting involved interest on their behalf rather than the team’s.
All told, that slate largely represents a “who’s who” of skippers-to-be around the game. Those that haven’t yet taken managerial jobs at the major league level have at least interviewed for jobs with other organizations.
Still, the Rockies aren’t just looking to plug in an experienced hand. According to Harding, Colorado hopes to find someone “who will apply statistics and other research into managing and coaching, and who are adept at various methods for creating team chemistry.” In that regard, certainly, the organization seems to be participating in a near-universal trend leaguewide.
The Rockies are officially looking to fill their open managerial position after parting ways with skipper Walt Weiss. While the organization is holding its cards close to the vest, here’s the latest reporting on that effort:
- Former Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke is also interested in the position, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. Since losing his post with Milwaukee, Roenicke has served as the third base coach for the Dodgers and then the Angels.
- Colorado will leave a few staff positions open for a new dugout head after announcing several changes to the club’s coaching staff yesterday (via MLB.com’s Thomas Harding). Pitching coach Steve Foster, pen coach Darren Holmes, and third base coach Stu Cole will return. But the team will be hiring elsewhere after cutting ties with bench coach Tom Runnells, hitting coach Blake Doyle, catching and defensive positioning coach Rene Lachemann, and baserunning, outfield, and first base coach Eric Young.
- Former Padres manager Bud Black says he’s interested in Colorado’s job after missing out on the Braves’ opening, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. Black, who has long been considered one of the top managerial free agents and nearly joined the Nationals last year, has served most recently as an adviser in the Angels’ front office. It’s not yet clear whether Black is seen as an option from within the Rockies’ organization, but he has drawn at least some consideration in virtually every managerial search since he left San Diego.
- Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo has long been talked about as a possible managerial candidate, and he once again fits that profile with John Farrell set to remain in command of the team in 2017. As of yet, no rival organizations have asked Boston for permission to speak with Lovullo, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. But it seems reasonable to expect at least one team to take a look. The Rockies may not yet have sought to chat with Lovullo, but Bradford cites sources who indicate that the club has “been asking around about” him. (The Diamondbacks, too, are in need of a skipper but must first sort out its front office.)
- We’ve already heard a few hints of other possibilities. GM Jeff Bridich has acknowledged that Triple-A skipper Glenallen Hill is under consideration. The long-time big leaguer is held in high regard by the Colorado organization, per Bridich, who’ll be hiring his first manager after inheriting Weiss when he was promoted. Braves first base coach Eddie Perez has also drawn interest from the Rox, per a report.
The Rockies announced today that right-handers Christian Bergman and Justin Miller have been outrighted to Triple-A Albuquerque, thereby clearing a pair of spots on their 40-man roster, which now sits at 38.
Bergman, 28, pitched part of his third season with the Rockies this season, logging 24 2/3 innings but struggling to an 8.39 ERA in that time. His peripheral stats were a bit more encouraging, though, as Bergman struck out 22 batters against just six walks with a 37.1 percent ground-ball rate. He was plagued by a .381 BABIP and by the fact that a sky-high 20 percent of his fly-balls turned into home runs, with seven long balls clearing the fence against him overall. That figure seems like an anomaly, especially considering a more standard 10 percent homer-to-fly ball rate in his two previous seasons. Overall, Bergman has a 5.79 ERA in 147 2/3 innings, though a 4.51 xFIP and 4.43 SIERA give some hope for future improvement.
The 29-year-old Miller, meanwhile, tallied an even more substantial amount of time in the Rockies’ bullpen, tossing 42 2/3 innings, though he too had difficulty, as evidenced by his 5.70 ERA. Miller, though, averaged 93.1 mph on his fastball and punched out 45 batters in his 42 2/3 innings of work, though his control (4.2 BB/9) took a step back from a solid 2015 season that saw him post a 4.05 ERA (3.22 xFIP, 2.84 SIERA) in 33 1/3 innings. The majority of Miller’s struggles came when pitching at Coors Field this season, as he posted a 7.40 ERA at home against a 4.09 ERA on the road. His overall numbers in the Majors don’t stand out, but he’s shown a knack for missing bats at both the Major League and minor league level throughout his career.
Both Bergman and Miller can elect free agency in lieu of this outright assignment, so either could be attractive to other clubs on minor league pacts. Bergman has spent most of his minor league career starting, so he could be a rotation depth piece for a club in a thin free-agent market. Miller, on the other hand, has never made a start in the Majors or minors since being selected in the 16th round of the 2008 draft by the Rangers.
Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich realizes he needs to improve his team’s bullpen, which was among the majors’ worst this year, but he’s “not sure yet” if he’ll acquire potential upgrades from outside the organization.
“I think that we are going to do everything that we need to do in the offseason to see if there are ways to making us better in the ‘pen,” Bridich told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
Bridich did pick up three established relievers last year via free agency and the trade market, but none of the moves panned out in 2016. His most notable transaction was sending outfielder Corey Dickerson to the Rays for left-hander Jake McGee, who was a terrific late-game option in Tampa Bay. That wasn’t the case in McGee’s first year in Colorado, though, as he logged a career-worst 4.73 ERA to go with 7.49 K/9 (down from 11.57 in 2015) and 3.15 BB/9 (up from 1.93 the previous year) in 45 2/3 innings. McGee’s average four-seam fastball velocity also fell to 93.4 after sitting at 96.4 just two years ago, as Saunders notes, and his swinging strike percentage that was comfortably in the double digits from 2012-15 plummeted to 8.6 this season. Colorado now has to decide whether to tender a contract to McGee, who’s set to make his fourth and final trip through arbitration after collecting $4.8MM in 2016.
Unlike McGee, the Rockies’ two other high-profile bullpen investments from last offseason – right-handers Chad Qualls and Jason Motte – are already under contract for next year. The Rockies signed the pair to two-year pacts worth a combined $16MM on the same day last December, but neither helped the club’s cause this season. Motte was on the disabled list multiple times with shoulder issues. In the 23 2/3 innings he did pitch, Motte posted a 4.94 ERA (a far cry from his halcyon days as a Cardinal), though he did impress with 9.13 K/9 against 3.04 BB/9. Qualls’ strikeout rate (6.06) was nowhere near as palatable, and he also struggled to prevent runs (5.23 ERA) despite limiting walks (2.48 per nine) and generating ground balls at a 55 percent clip across 32 2/3 frames.
Heading into the offseason, most of the prominent members of the Rockies’ 2016 bullpen remain under their control. Considering their relievers produced the majors’ worst ERA (5.13) and seventh-worst K/BB ratio (2.3), that’s not exactly encouraging. The only standouts set to return are Adam Ottavino and Chris Rusin. Southpaw Boone Logan, one of Colorado’s few effective relievers, is on track to hit free agency. If Bridich tries to improve his bullpen via the open market, Nationals closer Mark Melancon is a free agent-to-be and a Colorado native, though he’ll likely be out of the Rockies’ price range. Otherwise, there’s no shortage of soon-to-be available options who could help the Rockies at less expensive costs.
- With Walt Weiss gone and the Rockies in search of a new manager, the team parted with multiple members of his coaching staff Saturday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Colorado let go of bench coach Tom Runnells, hitting coach Blake Doyle, first base coach Eric Young, and catching coach/defensive coordinator Rene Lachemann. Pitching coach Steve Foster, bullpen coach Darren Holmes and third base coach Stu Cole are still with the team, but it’s unknown if they’ll keep their jobs.
The Rockies are considering Braves first base coach Eddie Perez for their vacant managerial position, Reyes Ureña of El Universal in Venezuelan tweets (link via MLB.com’s Thomas Harding). Perez recently interviewed for the Braves’ managerial job as well, although the team has acknowledged that it would be difficult to hire him, given the work interim manager Brian Snitker has done.
Previous Rockies manager Walt Weiss resigned this week, citing an unhealthy relationship with GM Jeff Bridich. Immediately after Weiss’ departure, Glenallen Hill, the Rockies’ manager at Triple-A Albuquerque, emerged as a possible candidate. As Harding notes, Bridich acknowledges that Hill is a potential candidate.
“I think he [Hill] would be somebody internally that we would consider, certainly,” says Bridich. “But then again, this is all very new information and new news. So there have been no formal plans put in place.”
The 48-year-old Perez played parts of 11 seasons in the big leagues, suiting up for the Braves, Indians and Brewers, notably serving as Greg Maddux’s personal catcher in Atlanta. Since retiring as a player, he’s worked as a bullpen coach as well as first base coach for the Braves, while also managing in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Hill, 51, played for the Blue Jays, Indians, Cubs, Giants, Mariners, Yankees and Angels over the course of a 13-year big-league career. He began coaching in the Rockies system in 2003 and has served as the team’s first base coach. He has managed the Rockies’ Triple-A team (first in Colorado Springs, then in Albuquerque) for the past four seasons.