Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies mailbag.
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Good day, Patrick. The second half of this season has been an encouraging one, due to the development of the starting pitching staff and players of young status. If the Rockies add a credible close and a power bat in the outfield, could they be in contention for a playoff berth? Who will replace CJ Cron at first base and Trevor Story at shortstop? Thank you.
— Robert Emmerling, Limon
Robert, first of all, thank you for all your questions this season and for your conversations on Twitter. it is much appreciated.
Your query this week covers the position of the Rockies in a nutshell. It’s certainly possible that the Rockies are a wild-card team next season, although I don’t think they’re a valid candidate to win the National League West. But to snuff the playoffs, the Rockies need to strengthen their bullpen and add punch to the offense. This is no secret.
Finding a new closer – unless the Rockies believe Carlos Estevez is the answer – won’t be easy. I don’t see a ton of quality relievers coming on the market.
Right-hander Trevor Rosenthal was thought to be close to Oakland, but he underwent thoracic outlet surgery and then surgery to repair a torn hip and is about to miss until 2021. They may be available for a reasonable cost, but what is left for them to offer?
The same question would be asked to Mark Melanchon, the Padres’ right-hander. He has been excellent for San Diego this year after bouncing around with several organizations. He received a one-year, $3 million deal with a mutual option for the 2022 season.
The four-time All-Star (including this year) is 37 years old and a different pitcher than he was at his prime, but he could be even more effective with his off-speed pitches and cuts in fastball. His 37 saves lead the National League and he has a 2.26 ERA. Will the product of Golden High School consider pitching for his hometown team? Perhaps.
As far as the story is concerned, all I have been told is that he will soon be gone and will not return. I wrote in Sunday’s Denver Post about the possible end to Story’s Rockies career. The Rockies haven’t reached out to Story’s agent to open the door about Story living in Colorado. As it stands now, Brendan Rodgers is poised to subtly change the story. That step is not carved in stone.
I am confident that Krone will return to the two-year deal. He likes his teammates and likes Colorado. And he has been as good as he has been this year. After being named NL Player of the Month for August, Krone has slipped to a fall of .196/.270/.357 in September.
Furthermore, their home-street splits are extreme: .315/.409/.670 with 18 homers and 1.080 ops at Coors Field versus .226/.327/.389 with nine homers and .716 on the road.
Patrick, do you think Colton Welker or Ryan Vilade will have a significant role to play with the team next year? I think if we are to have any chance of success, we have to try a youth movement. Charlie Blackman isn’t getting any younger and if CJ Cron gets a salary elsewhere, I can’t see him signing with us again.
— Miles, Denvero
Miles, I said in a previous question addressing CJ Cron that I think he’ll be back.
As for your question with regards to Welker and Vilade, a lot depends on what the Rockies do in the off-season. I think they would try to sign a power bat to the outfield, allowing Blackmon to split the time between the designated hitter and the right field. Also, the Rockies would love for Sam Hilliard to be their starting center fielder, but the jury is still out on whether he can cut down on his strikeout to become an everyday player.
I think Welker has a better chance of making a major league club out of spring training next year than Villade because I think he is a more skilled hitter than Villade.
So, Patrick, who’s close is our next season? Daniel is barred and Estevez seems fine in the role. Do you see someone like Justin Lawrence, Lucas Gilbraith or Jordan Sheffield possibly taking over next year? I don’t see us catching fire on another Greg Holland in free agency and running out of luck.
– Billy M., Fort Collins
Billy, I touched on the close condition in a previous question. I think it’s too early to leave Estevez close, but it would be fitting to bring in a quality reliever to let the Rockies compete for work and add depth to the “pen.”
I disagree with you that “the bard is done.” His stuff is still excellent and he needs to work on using the movement on his slider and fastball, but he still throws the ball fast at 97-100 mph. He reminds me a lot of Adam Otavino – which means he runs hot and cold.
I’ve been very impressed with Gilbreth and Sheffield recently, but none of them profile as close. Gilbreth may be the left-wing expert the Rockies have needed for a long time.
Love your job Patrick, how do you think being loyal to Rocky will react when Dick Monfort stays in the house and hires Bill Schmidt as permanent general manager?
— Mick, Lodo
Mick, as I mentioned earlier, Major League Baseball will need the Rockies to do the search, but from what I’ve been told by the people in the organization, Schmidt will get the job done.
I think a lot of fans would be upset. Maintaining the status quo in the front office is a trademark of the Rockies and fans are tired of it, even though GM Jeff Briditch and assistant GMs Zach Wilson and John Weil have left this season.
I have nothing against Schmidt. He is a good baseball man and is liked and respected by many inside and outside the organization. But I expect the Rockies to be aggressive this season. He needs to add position talent to take advantage of a solid starting rotation.
Schmidt may have a very ambitious plan, but he needs to get the green light and funding from team president Greg Feusel and Monfort to make something happen. we will see. Color me skeptical. It promises to be a very interesting offseason.
Why is your Rockies mailbag not sponsored by Subaru? The number of quotas they need during a game broadcast – super-mo and strike zone – do I think you can retire early.
— KB, Aurora
KB, this is awesome. you made me laugh. I have to admit that I feel for Jeff Hewson and Ryan Spielborg for jamming all those mini-ads into replays. It’s annoying, but it’s part of the “moneyball” of baseball. In-game ads are certainly nothing new. He has always been a part of TV and radio broadcasting.
I’ll tell you what really bothers me: non-stop advertising for bets on baseball and the NFL. Every time I hear the white lady screaming, “And make it rain!”
I follow all of the Rockies minor league teams online and I’ve noted that their No. 1 draft pick has not appeared anywhere. Did they sign that, and if so, why didn’t they get some experience?
— Jim, Denvero
Jim, you’re talking about outfielder Benny Montgomery, who was drafted by the Rockies with the eighth pick in the July draft. Soon after the draft, he signed with a $5 million bonus and was Scottsdale, Ariz., to play in the rookie-level Arizona Complex League.
“That’s the total package,” said interim GM Bill Schmidt. “With athleticism, size and strength and speed combining, it’s hard to find those things, coming together.”
ACL Rockies manager Jake Opitz, who previously led the Grand Junction Rockies before the reorganization of the MILB, was even more impressive with his praise.
“They have every tool you can imagine,” Opitz recently told my colleague Kyle Newman. “He’s strong, he’s one of the fastest guys out here, he has one of the best weapons I’ve seen. The toolset is the best I’ve seen an 18-year-old do in my time, and What he’s coming up with is off-the-charts.”
Ask a Rockies – or MLB – related question for the Rockies mailbag.