Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies mailbag.
Ask a Rockies – or MLB – related question for the Rockies mailbag.
Wasn’t it just a few years ago that the Rockies were largely rated as one of the better farming systems? What happened after all?
— D, Arvad
Rankings for the D, minor league system are cyclical, except for a few organizations, such as the Padres, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Rays, which produce a strong crop of talent year after year. The rise and fall of agricultural systems is common. This is the nature of the animal.
As for the Rockies, as recently as 2016-17, they were ranked in the top 10 by most observers. But many of those young players – Kyle Freeland, Garrett Hampson, Peter Lambert, Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers – have graduated to the majors. The Rockies haven’t done a great job of restoring the cabinet.
For example, in 2016, he took right-hander Riley Pint with the fourth overall pick in the draft and right-hander Robert Tyler with the 38th overall pick. Both pitchers have retired from baseball.
In 2015, the Rockies selected Mike Nichork in the first round as the 27th overall pick. He has also retired due to an elbow injury. So, never making three of your four top picks in two years to majors really hurts a team that calls itself a “draft and development” organization.
The Rockies’ farming system, which was ranked low 29th last year, has improved slightly. Many MLB draft gurus ranked it 25th after the most recent draft. No wonder the Rockies are at least four or five years away from being a legitimate contender.
Please explain what Bill Schmidt did to be Rocky’s permanent general manager to be worthy of any consideration, other than possibly compromised photos of Dick Monfort. It is my understanding that Mr. Schmidt has been in charge of the Rockies draft and minor league teams (providing them with their players) since 2000. Since that time he has missed more hits than he has on his drafting of players. We also know that the minor league system is not stocked with players receiving trades because the Rockies rarely execute these types of trades. Even if he did, Schmidt would have recommended who he received, which we know is not a very high rank. In addition, for many years the Rockies minor league system has consistently ranked near the bottom of major league baseball. These are the players Schmidt has drafted. Thus, it is clear that this person is clearly not capable of becoming a full-time GM, unless Montfort just wants to save money and a below average team. Thank you.
– Mark Warren, San Diego
Mark, I’m not sure how to answer your “question”. Yes, Schmidt has been hit-and-miss in terms of player selection, but you have to keep in mind that he doesn’t make the decisions himself. The general manager, whether it’s Dan O’Dowd or Jeff Briditch, as well as the rest of the front office, has a big say in who the team chooses.
I am on record to say that I think the Rockies need to step out of the organization and hire a new GM after this season. Will they? I don’t know Monfort values loyalty and consistency – to a fault in my estimation – so that’s the key reason the Rockies promoted Schmidt from interim GM to permanent GM.
I’d like to add this: Schmidt is known throughout baseball circles as a class act and a knowledgeable baseball man with a wealth of experience.
Patrick, All-Star Weekend was a blast! What were your favorite moments covering the show?
— Tim Jones, Denver
Tim, thanks for the question. I have to be honest, when the news broke that Denver was hosting the All-Star Game, I wasn’t thrilled. Instead of taking a day or two off, it meant a lot of work. That said, I was very proud of the work the Denver Post did covering all of the events and issues surrounding the event. Along with sports, news has also done a great job. I had several national media members who told me this as well.
my favorite moment? First, with Nolan Arenado, speaking of detail. He was relaxed and candid and was really open to talking to us.
I also really enjoyed the home run derby. It was a blast – pun intended – and the crowd was really into it. I’m not usually a home run derby guy, but I thought it was awesome.
Kyle Newman’s article was about why the Rockies should have crafted Rocker out of Vanderbilt! Do you agree that this draft is another obvious reason the Rockies need to clean house and go out of organization for GM? What would they have done to the Rockies to draft when we should have used 19-20 picks on pitching?
– Gideon G., Danverso
For Mr Gideon who missed it, Newman wrote:
The Rockies’ minor league system lacks projectile launching pitchers. So why hasn’t Colorado addressed that pressing need with its No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft?
With their first-round picks, the Rockies selected prep outfielder Benny Montgomery, an instrument-laden right-handed hitter with a pop. Montgomery, who has a good chance to start at Coors Field one day, was the safe pick in the draft where the Rockies needed to be bold and aggressive.
Instead of Montgomery, Colorado should have moved Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker to No. The rocker, who went to No. 10 for the Mets, was the most talked-about college pitcher in the class, apart from his teammate Jack Leiter, who was ranked No. 8. 2 by Texas.
The Rockies front office was not happy with Mr Newman’s assessment, but he is entitled to his opinion.
I didn’t cover this year’s draft, so it would be unfair for me to weigh in on the matter. Most national draft gurus give the Rockies a passing grade.
Here’s What MLB.com Employees Are Up To The Rockies had this to say about the best pick:
Jaden Hill, right-handed pitcher (2nd round)
After receiving Tully High School outfielder Benny Montgomery in Round 1, the Rockies rolled the dice on Hill, who had Tommy John surgery this spring. We thought Hill had a chance of being a top 10 pick, he was healthy because he’s strong, athletic, and the premium stuff. The track record is lacking in terms of starts, but he has the three-pitch mics needed for the role, a pretty good backup plan as a reliever if that doesn’t work out.
Patrick, if Rocky proceeds as expected on the trade deadline from multiple Giants, does that mean he’ll have the money to be a player in free agency this off-season?
— Matt, East Colfax
Matt, interim GM Bill Schmidt told me recently that the Rockies are not required to trade Trevor Story for financial reasons. In other words, with fans back in the stands and the bulk of Nolan Arenado’s salary off the books, the Rockies are not as tight-lipped for cash as they seemed this winter.
If the Rockies can trade Trevor Story, they won’t have to pay $6.2 million for the final two months of the season. It is believed that the Rockies do not take a salary in the course of the trade.
No other trade will significantly affect payroll for 2022 and beyond. The Rockies are paying $14.4 million of Arenado’s salary this season with the Cardinals. All told, the Rockies’ total payroll this season is about $116 million, according to Spottrack. It is ranked 18th in the Major.
In 2019, the Rockies had a total payroll of $157.2 million, ranking 11th in baseball. https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/colorado-rockies/payroll/
I’m thinking it might take a while for the Rockies to reach that level of spending again. However, given that the Rockies have a solid rotation, this would be an excellent time to open the off-season checkbook. Whether owner Dick Monfort does so remains to be seen.
What’s the latest on Austin Gomber? He is on IL for a month to 10 days. Any word if he’s coming back soon?
— Miles, Parker
Miles, Gomber is due to start play against the Mariners on Wednesday. I am excited to see how he performs. I wrote about his return on my Rockies notes posted on Tuesday night.