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Is Tom Murphy REALLY ready for the Majors? His defense still needs work! #ResignHundley
Is Murphy, who blasted five home runs and two doubles in 49 Major League plate appearances, ready defensively, or should the Rockies re-sign veteran Nick Hundley?
Murphy looks nothing like the shorter, more flexible Tony Wolters, who is a whiz at pitch-framing and helps gain strikes on borderline pitches. Wolters tied for fifth in the Majors in Baseball Prospectus' CSAA (Called Strikes Above Average) at .017 -- or nearly two added strikes per 100 pitches. The leader, the Cubs' Miguel Montero, was at .030, or worth an extra strikeout per 100 pitches.
Scouts who watched Murphy at Triple-A Albuquerque questioned his defense, but the pitch framing stats are decent and are improving. He had CSAAs of .003 during his brief time in the Majors and .004 at Triple-A. Last year, Murphy was -.021 in the big leagues and -.002 at Triple-A. Murphy is developing a setup that works for him, rather than adhering to convention.
Hundley's veteran presence for two seasons helped the young staff, although the CSAA figures weren't kind: -.016 in 2015 and -.015 in '16.
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Considering the now formidable rotation, do you think the Rox still draft heavy on pitchers in the next upcoming draft(s)?
The Rockies should never take the emphasis away from pitching in the Draft and in Latin America. Frontline starting pitching on the free agent market will always be expensive and, with the Coors Field factor, unpredictable. In fact, as long as the staff stays young, the Rockies need to always protect themselves in case a pitcher struggles or is injured.
With the emergence of guys like Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson.... Is there a chance that veteran SP think about coming to mentor?
With righties Chad Bettis and Tyler Chatwood having meshed with pitching coaches Steve Foster and Darren Holmes and having gone through the severe ups and downs that come with pitching at Coors Field, I'm not sure that's necessary. Recent first-round picks Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson showed this season that you can arrive in the Majors with talent and confidence.
Doesn't keeping your pitching coaches mean it will be an inside candidate?
In this case, the Rockies retaining Foster and Holmes (as well as third-base coach Stu Cole) does not indicate the Rockies are keeping the managerial decision in-house. It's simply that general manager Jeff Bridich drove the decisions on the pitching coaches, and they fit his vision.
What should be the biggest move this offseason in FA?
Who rebounds from the bullpen in order to improve their weakest unit?
I put these questions together since they're sorta related.
Last year's bullpen free agent spending wasn't huge, and it wasn't productive. The Rockies enter 2017 still on the hook for $8.75 million for righties Jason Motte and Chad Qualls. With lefty Boone Logan a free agent, and with a bullpen whose 5.13 ERA was the Majors' worst, it's a good place to spend -- smartly.
Certain key relievers on postseason teams -- the Cubs' Aroldis Chapman, the Indians' Andrew Miller, the Nationals' Mark Melancon and the Rangers' Sam Dyson -- all were in-season acquisitions (Dyson last year, the rest this year). Do as many postseason teams do: Develop your bullpen, then pick up the key part when you're close. Count me against a big free agent acquisition this winter, since that guy will be there at the Trade Deadline if the Rox are close.
Improvements must come from within -- from Adam Ottavino, who returned from Tommy John surgery in 2016, to lefty Jake McGee, whose left knee issue threw off his motion, to Carlos Estevez and Matt Carasiti, who were thrust into important roles with just a handful of Triple-A appearances. Jairo Diaz, Miguel Castro and Scott Oberg all who dealt with injuries. Motte, who will turn 35 next June, is coming off three years of shoulder and elbow problems, but he may be a better candidate for a rebound than Qualls, who will turn 39 next August.
It seems the Rockies are working toward non-traditional roles. Lefty Chris Rusin was used several ways last season. They need to create a righty Miller-esque weapon, either with their starter depth or by obtaining an undervalued arm via trade or free agent market.
Clogged outfield, first base problems, increased payroll... Do you think a big offseason is coming?
With so many lefty OF bats, do you think they move one to different position or trade? If so, who?
@OneEyeTigh and @bjquickdraw have hit several key areas. My basic thoughts are:
A) The left-handed offense isn't that big a problem, although a righty bat off the bench would help
B) First base is a priority, but they can get by without a big, lengthy contract
C) Why not be creative about positions?
At first base, maybe pursuing Mark Trumbo or Edwin Encarnacion is worth a try. But going short term with Matt Holliday or re-signing Mark Reynolds while waiting for prospects Ryan McMahon and Brian Mundell develop is fine, as well.
For now, the Rockies want to hoard their outfield depth, and that has merit. If that's the case, however, why not get creative with David Dahl? If the Cubs could give third baseman Kris Bryant 48 outfield starts, it would make sense to me to give Dahl that many at first base. Then you could go economical, like re-signing Reynolds, and improve production. Such a move would keep Gerardo Parra in the outfield mix, to see if he can rebound from a bad and painful 2016.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.