This will be the question asked about the Colorado Rockies once the season arrives — did they do enough to improve their roster this offseason? The most questionable move to some fans may be the trade of Corey Dickerson to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Jake McGee, but that just might mean Colorado is finally gaining sense of what they need to do to shape this roster moving forward.
Lets face it, the Rockies have a surplus of outfielders in Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra and Brandon Barnes heading into the 2016 campaign. Not to mention, a young prospect in the wings by the name of David Dahl — there was simply no room for Dickerson. We are all going to miss Dickerson’s bat for sure, yet the defensive aspect of his game was not there. Colorado upgraded with the bat and glove, signing Parra on Jan. 12. Dickerson joins the American League in which he can serve as a designated hitter for a majority of the time, sliding into the outfield when called upon.
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Colorado’s bullpen on the other hand was the worst in baseball last season, finishing with an ERA of 4.70. Then again, the bullpen was overworked, logging over 568.2 innings which was good for second most in all of baseball — not a recipe for success. Then again, you can put the blame on the starting rotation as well for putting them in tough situations. The team collected a 41-62 record as a staff, putting out the worst ERA in baseball at 5.27.
So what did the Rockies do to improve their pitching woes? Well, not so much concerning the starting rotation, but the bullpen has received a major overhaul. After letting closer John Axford walk, the team invested in two veteran relievers — Jason Motte and Chad Qualls. As mentioned earlier, the Rockies acquired Jake McGee in the Dickerson trade, adding more depth and experience to a bullpen that desperately needed so.
With that being said, Colorado is following a trend right now — adding fastball pitchers. McGee, last season, averaged 94.4 MPH on his fastball, throwing it 92.7% of the time. Qualls on the other hand, threw a fastball 57.2% of the time, averaging 93.2 MPH throughout his career. Last but not least, Motte threw a fastball 83.9% of the time, averaging 95.0 MPH last season. (All statistics were provided by FanGraphs.) In a sense, you can see where they’re trying to go, adding fastball pitchers while essentially limiting breaking ball selections. Because you know, the breaking ball doesn’t work too well at Coors most of the time, just ask Collin McHugh.
Jumping ahead, the Rockies declined Justin Morneau‘s mutual option, making the 34-year-old a free agent. Looking for first base help, the Rockies went out and signed another veteran — Mark Reynolds. This move makes some sense, due to the fact you can platoon both Reynolds and Ben Paulsen at first base, giving the Rockies match-ups to work with. And who knows, maybe Reynolds can pull out 15-20 home runs with a little help from Coors Field.
When it’s all said and done, we don’t expect the Rockies to be a team in the hunt for the playoffs in 2016, but I personally believe these moves will be beneficial for the development of this team moving forward. With that being said, it makes 2017 seem more realistic to compete, given the reinforcement on the way from the minors.