The Man, The Mustache, The Legend: John Axford is a Rockie


Very recently one of the best relievers in the game, John Axford looks for a comeback season in purple pinstripes.

I’m starting to feel convinced that general manager Jeff Bridich intends to make changes to this team. Less than a week ago I wrote about Adam Ottavino and how critical his continued success is to this team. My point was that Ottavino feels like the only reliever we’ve been able to count on over the last couple of years, and he needs to maintain his performance so the team will have a prayer. If Ottavino goes to pieces, who do we give the ball to when Jhoulys Chacin hits 100 pitches in the 5th inning? Paging Franklin Morales

More from Colorado Rockies News

But I digress. Since that piece, Bridich has gone out and found not one but four right-handed relievers. Most likely to succeed is former Brave David Hale, who will potentially find himself battling for the fifth starter role. Starting out in the minor leagues will be Guy Schlosser, also coming to us from Atlanta, former Rockie Rafael Betancourt, and free agent John Axford. Given the nature of these pitchers and their contracts, it’s possible none of them will see playing time out of the bullpen in 2015. Still, kudos to Bridich for understanding that his right-handed relief corps was starting to look thin, and some depth was needed.

I’m an Axford fan. Yes, he has high walk rates, which has the potential to make him a righty Rex Brothers this coming season. But the difference between the two is that Axford has had significant success as a closer, where Brothers has not yet proven himself worthy of anything more than the potential to fill that role. In 2011, my first year writing for Rox Pile, I participated in the FanSided awards voting, and Axford was my second-place winner. Granted, that was four years ago. Axford has struggled since then.

In 2012, he saved 35 games (still great), but saw his walk rate balloon t0 5.06/9 even as his struck out an insane 12.07 batters per 9. In 2013, his velocity dropped drastically, which led to the Brewers replacing him as closer and ultimately trading him to the Cardinals. He signed with the Indians for the 2014 season and, after being DFA’d, was picked up by the Pirates. In the past two seasons, he’s recorded 10 saves with an ERA hovering right around 4.00. Potentially lost in all this is the fact that Axford has been absolute nails in the postseason. Not that I expect the Rockies to be there, but if they are, I really like the idea of Axford being with them.

More from Rox Pile

This signing is a risk. And the Rockies have taken many risks in the past few years. They keep looking for buy-low candidates that fit their tight budget, all the while hoping they’ll look like geniuses in the end. And some of those have worked out. Justin Morneau was a risk, having never quite made a comeback from his concussion several years ago. In 2014, he won the batting title. LaTroy Hawkins was a risk because he’s, ya know, OLD. But he’s come through again and again.

On the other hand, there have been many more failures. Guillermo Moscoso, anyone? Josh Outman? Brett Anderson? The Rockies continue to spend their money on guys who are washed up, injury risks, or just plain bad. That’s no way to build a championship team.

But, I’d like to see what Axford can do. And I’d really like to see that mustache above some purple pinstripes.