Paul Goldschmidt

19 Dec 18
The Denver Post
Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week on Tuesdays during the season and once per month during the offseason. Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag. Now that Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion are no longer available, where are the Rockies going to look to improve their offense? Justin Smoak doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade from Ian Desmond, Daniel Murphy and Neil Walker seem like makeshift options at first. — Chris Tichota, Thornton Chris, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich is tight-lipped about his plans, which is exactly the way he wants it. So it’s difficult to much glean much out of conversations with him. Having spent four days in Las Vegas at the winter meetings, I talked to a lot of people and I got a strong sense the Rockies were very interested in Santana, but as you mentioned, he was traded (twice, from Philadelphia to Seattle and then to Cleveland). Encarnacion was a longshot trade candidate, and there were some in the organization who viewed him more as a designated hitter than a true first baseman. Given Colorado’s emphasis on defense, that trade wasn’t going to fly. Anyway, when I asked Bridich if the inability to trade for either of those two sluggers derailed the Rockies’ plans, he responded with a definitive no. So what now? My educated guess, at least at this time, is that the Rockies will sign Murphy to a free-agent deal, perhaps a two-year, $18 million contract. Why? He’s a veteran who shined with the Mets in 2015 and led the National League with a .985 OPS with Washington in 2016. He could provide a short-term offensive boost while Colorado’s young players develop. Plus, he doesn’t strike out a lot. That being said, issues remain. Murphy is 34 and underwent knee surgery in 2017 that wiped out the early portion of his 2018 season. Plus, he’s a bad second baseman, so the Rockies would have to play him at first base. On the plus side, Murphy rebounded with a productive second half in 2018 and finished with a .800 OPS. In the second half of the season, he put up a 125 wRC+ and showed some pop in his bat. (FYI: wRC+ takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for important external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average and 150 would be 50 percent above league average). If Murphy played first back, the Rockies could make Ian Desmond a true utility player. Now, to the heart of your question: I don’t expect the Rockies to make a huge, long-term upgrade to their offense this offseason. I think they believe that young players like Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers will boost the offense in coming seasons. Plus, if the club is serious about making an attempt to sign Nolan Arenado, it can’t afford to pay a free agent a ton of money over a long time. [related_articles location=”right” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-tag”] We’ll see what happens. There is a lot of offseason left. Hey Patrick, any word on the Rockies’ plan for Chad Bettis. With all of the young talent in the rotation, he seems likely to be the odd man out. Is he a candidate for the bullpen or are the Rockies looking to move him? — Aaron Hurt, Omaha, Nebraska Aaron, thanks, as always, for contributing to the mailbag. I think you are correct that Bettis’ career is in limbo in Colorado. He thinks of himself as a starter, and told me he wants to be a starter for the Rockies. However, he’s also a good soldier and will do whatever he can to help the team win. I wouldn’t count Bettis out. He’s a veteran and if he’s healthy he can be an asset. Plus, the Rockies will need depth because injuries – hopefully minor ones – are bound to pop up. Keep in mind that Bettis opened the 2018 season strong, going 4-1 with a 3.27 ERA into the third week of May. But then came the severe blisters on his right-middle finger and he ended up working as a seldom-used, long reliever out of the bullpen, finishing the season going 5-2 with a 5.01 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in 27 games (20 starts). Could the Rockies look to trade Bettis? Sure, it’s possible, but I don’t see it happening. I think he will arrive at spring training eager and ready to make his pitch for a spot in the rotation. I wouldn’t count Bettis out. Here are two questions on the same subject: I would love to have DJ LeMahieu back. It seems a shame that Ian Desmond is on the team before LeMahieu because of his contract. Is there a chance that Rockies would bring him back? Is there any scenario that they would trade Desmond and bring back LeMahieu and let Ryan McMahon play first base? — Elizabeth, Colorado Why in God’s name are the Rockies letting LeMahieu leave? — Jerry, Thousand Oaks, California Elizabeth and Jerry, as you probably know, I am an unabashed LeMahieu fan. Manager Bud Black has repeatedly called him a winning player, and Black’s characterization is 100 percent correct. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will re-sign with the Rockies. Bridich has not completely ruled out LeMahieu’s return, but I doubt that happens. As far as I know, there have been no conversations. Why? Because in players such as Brendan Rodgers, Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon, the Rockies think they have up-and-coming talent at a much cheaper cost. Plus, you have to remember that LeMahieu is part of this question, too. As a free agent, he’s looking for the biggest jackpot of his career and he owes it to himself to look elsewhere, no matter how much he loved playing in Colorado. Was LeMahieu disappointed the Rockies didn’t try to re-sign him? I think so. Is he angry? I don’t think so, he knows it’s part of the business. As for Desmond, I don’t think the Rockies can trade him, in large part because he’s still owed $38 million over the final three years of his five-year, $70 million contract. Plus, he’ll be 34 during the 2019 season and has a forgettable slash line of .251/.314/.404 in his first two seasons in Colorado. It think it’s clear that signing Desmond was a major mistake, but it’s hard to connect to the dots and determine that signing Desmond prevented the Rockies from locking down LeMahieu to a long-term deal. Bottom line: I think LeMahieu is long gone and I’m sure we all wish him the best of luck. With Adam Ottavino most likely being on another team next year, who do you see locking down the eighth inning in 2019? I would think Jake McGee or Brian Shaw, but they have been a disappointment, along with Mike Dunn. Carlos Estevez certainly has the talent but lacks the control. — Steve, Denver Steve, losing Ottavino is going to hurt, no doubt. But the pitchers you failed to mention are right-handers Scott Oberg and Seunghwan Oh. Oberg, it could be argued, was the Rockies’ best reliever last season when he posted a 2.45 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP. He’s got great stuff and he learned a lot last season. That was illustrated by this statistic: Oberg was scored upon just four times in his last 34 games, going 6-1 with a 1.85 ERA, with five walks vs. 40 strikeouts. I’m extremely bullish on Oberg, as are the Rockies. Estevez, 25, struggled through a difficult, injury-plagued 2018. He suffered an oblique injury during spring training and then hurt an elbow ligament during his minor-league rehab at Triple-A Albuquerque. Believe it or not, he was sitting in the dugout and hurt his elbow while pushing off the bench when he stood up. Essentially, two weird injuries derailed his season. Any thoughts on Garrett Hampson moving to center field? — Reneem, Powell, Wyoming Reneem, it’s a slight possibility, maybe as a part-time option. But I think David Dahl is the player the Rockies want to take over center field and run with it, though both Black and Bridich said Desmond will get a look in center during spring training. I’ve noticed the last couple years it seems like Bridich and Co. move very quickly and made some bad choices i.e. Shaw and Desmond. Do you think they’re gun shy and that’s why they haven’t made any moves yet? — Kaleb, Loveland Kaleb, I think you’re using some selective memory here. Yes, Desmond’s signing came early (Dec. 13, 2016), but last season, for instance, the Rockies didn’t sign closer Wade Davis until Dec. 29. I don’t think Bridich is “gun shy,” I just think he has a blueprint and a game plan that he sticks too, for good and for bad. I think it’s way too early in the hot stove season to say the Rockies won’t do anything. A lot of teams haven’t made major moves yet. Lots of teams improving in the National League (St. Louis, Philly., etc). Rockies so far step backward, assuming they lose LeMahieu, Gerardo Parra. Is the lack of improving a budget issue? — Kent Fonda, Denver Kent, Bridich has indicated that the Rockies will pursue “responsible” payroll growth. I think recent history shows that owner Dick Monfort has been willing open up the checkbook and I think the Rockies total payroll in 2019 will be about the same as last year. I understand that fans love to disagree about how the Rockies choose to spend their money, but the truth is that the club has been willing to spend over the last two seasons. Consider these numbers, via Cot’s Baseball Contracts: Season…. 25-man roster, opening day….40-man roster, end of season 2018….. $136.9 million………. ……… $151.2 million 2017…. $127.9 million ………………. $156 million 2016…. $112.6 million ……….……… $116.7 million Is the huge and largely non-productive contract to Desmond keeping the needed moves this winter from happening? — Steve Parker, Durango Steve, I understand that many fans don’t like Desmond and his contract, but it’s a little early to be making that judgement. Of course his salary factors into the big picture, but that’s not the major reason the Rockies have yet to make a move. Patrick – Happy Holidays to you and your family first of all. Now that the “winter meetings” are done and GM’s headed home, do you think that the avowed objective of Bridich and Co. about improving the offense for the 2019 season is going to default to signing some over-the-hill AL DH who (hopefully) won’t be a total Dr. Strange Glove at first and who can’t field the position and strikes out 50+% of time? (IMHO, Rockies need “RBI guys” not necessarily home run wanna be types. Second real need seems to be regulars who actually, like Dodgers and Red Sox, understand the strike zone and force pitchers to make pitches). Enough turn right and sit down on the bench at bats! Seems as if Bridich and Monfort are holding the purse strings for Arenado signing and hoping current roster, system players will have turn around year… Maybe, but don’t count your chickens there. Also, wish there were some way to keep LeMahieu for another year, but that seems doubtful, with Rogers poised to make the team in 2019. There are so many little things that LeMahieu has done for the Rockies, and he can hit to all fields and has the best strike zone eye on the club. Best for the holidays, hope we run into you in Scottsdale, Arizona in March. PS. Instant replay again and again is ruining baseball like it has the NFL! Only gamblers want it and networks who can sell more commercial time while umpires in New York take minutes to figure out a call at 1st base. Didn’t need replay for over a hundred years and the game was still great. — Leighton Stephenson, Highlands Ranch Leighton … umm … not sure there is a question in there, so I don’t know what to say. So …. I’m just going to run with your rant and let readers take it from there. It’s quite entertaining. Happy holidays to you, too! Did the Rockies try to get Paul Goldschmidt? I’ve heard they could use a first baseman. –Bill, Denver Bill, yes the Rockies need a first baseman. And yes, they did inquire about Goldschmidt. But the Diamondbacks ended the conversation before it ever got started. In other words, Colorado’s so-called pursuit was blown wildly out of proportion. First of all, thanks for your consistently wonderful coverage of the Rockies. I frequently read the Denver Post recap of a game even if I watched or listened to it (but only if they win). Second, I had a grudging admiration for the Red Sox offense in the postseason. Even though they had plenty of pop they stood out as one of the few teams in today’s game that don’t sell out for power. I was impressed with their consistently long at-bats, their focused approach with two strikes and runners on base, their willingness to settle for an opposite-field single. To me, these attributes were solely lacking in the Rockies offense throughout the season. I am not questioning the effort level of their hitters at all, the team just did not seem good at grinding games out from an offensive standpoint. Besides adding another bat, what adjustments does the Rockies lineup need to make for the 2019 offense to be more like the 2018 Red Sox? Do you see them making these adjustments? — Isaac Bowen, Wellington Isaac, thanks for reading. You make some good points about the Rockies’ shortcomings on offense. The club, including new hitting coach Dave Magadan, are well aware of the issues. Bridich said during the winter meetings that “run production” is the club’s No. 1 offensive goal. I think that comes in many forms, and an upgrade in talent will help (if they do indeed, upgrade). I think it’s safe to say that the Rockies have to tweak their approach at the plate. I think the following numbers back up your argument: • The Rockies as a team finished with a .256 batting average, their lowest batting average in franchise history. • Their on-base percentage of .322 was the second-lowest in franchise history, next to 2015’s figure of .315. • At home, they batted .287, their fourth-lowest home batting average in franchise history. • On the road, they batted .225 their lowest road batting average in franchise history. The Rockies’ problem was a lack of consistency. There would be games with multiple home runs and a lot of runs, followed by stretches where hits, runs and baserunners were tough to come by. Had Colorado’s offense come close to meeting expectations, the club would have won its first National League West title. Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week on Tuesdays during the season and once per month during the offseason. Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.
19 Dec 18
I Talk Sports and That's It

The saga of Dexter Fowler is sickening to pretty much all Cardinals fans.  His 2018 regression was historically awful, his perceived love of the Chicago Cubs is inexcusable.  Nevertheless, entering into the 2019 season, he may be the most important piece to a team that seems primed to get back to the playoffs.  Fowler is […]

19 Dec 18
The Bench Sports

Giveaway Download Spotlight and follow our feed for a chance to win a free shirt from our store! It’s very rare for a 26-year-old superstar to hit the open free agent market. However, as we approach the conclusion of 2018, Bryce Harper still remains unsigned. Let’s first make a couple of things crystal clear: Harper […]

18 Dec 18
Jack O. Blog Site

Free agency in the MLB is like dominoes, when they start falling, they fall fast. And I believe the dominoes have just started to fall. In the first month after the World Series, teams attempt to gauge the market for trades and free agents. But December is when the big signings usually happen, and the […]

17 Dec 18
iPhillySports

If I’m being honest, I think I’m experiencing Bryce Harper free agency fatigue. Where will he go? Does he like the northeast? Are the Dodgers in play? Will John Middleton make the “Godfather offer” he simply can’t refuse? What about the MYSTERY TEAMS? “Sources” this, and “rival front office people” that. The winter meetings are […]

17 Dec 18
iPhillySports

If I’m being honest, I think I’m experiencing Bryce Harper free agency fatigue. Where will he go? Does he like the northeast? Are the Dodgers in play? Will John Middleton make the “Godfather offer” he simply can’t refuse? What about the MYSTERY TEAMS? “Sources” this, and “rival front office people” that. The winter meetings are […]

17 Dec 18
iPhillySports

If I’m being honest, I think I’m experiencing Bryce Harper free agency fatigue. Where will he go? Does he like the northeast? Are the Dodgers in play? Will John Middleton make the “Godfather offer” he simply can’t refuse? What about the MYSTERY TEAMS? “Sources” this, and “rival front office people” that. The winter meetings are […]

17 Dec 18
The Sports Daily

In this episode, Rusty and Adam talk over the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt, some low-end roster churn, Right Field, and more. Or Click the links below to subscribe to Bird Law on the following platforms: Itunes / Apple Podcasts Stitcher TuneIn Soundcloud Credits: Intro: Audio – “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FOX) ; Music – […]

17 Dec 18
The Cactus League

Today is December 14th 2018. Just over a week ago, Paul Goldschmidt was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a much needed win and a big move for a fan base that has felt starved of one. Cardinal fans can list the names: Pujols, Price, Stanton. All three being […]

16 Dec 18

Written by: Ray Butler Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365 How about some December prospect rankings? Our good friends at Prospects 1500 recently released their latest top prospect rankings. The list is aggregated thanks to the assistance of 17 staff writers, and it’s sure to wet your whistle until after the new year. Read it here. If you’ve been […]

16 Dec 18
Pittsburgh Pirates - Joe Balawajder

Entering the offseason the Pirates were looking to address their needs of a shortstop and left-handed pitching. Now that the Winter Meetings have come and gone, the Pirates are still left with a hole in their lineup at the shortstop position, and only two left-handed pitchers currently on the roster.  So what happened at the […]

16 Dec 18
The baseball bats fanatic

For at least the past year, a pair of right fielders – the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and the Tigers’ Nicholas Castellanos – have been among the majors’ biggest potential trade chips. Neither player has gone anywhere to this point, but it now looks like only a matter of time before both Puig and Castellanos don […]

16 Dec 18
Sunrise Short Hops

Could the D-Backs still contend without Paul Goldschmidt in the line-up? They will only know if they hold on to Greinke until the All-Star Break.