Colorado Rockies: Random Thoughts After the Season Edition

Oct 2, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies fans cheer for players in the dugout following the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies fans cheer for players in the dugout following the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The season is over for the Colorado Rockies. The team won 75 games, which was the most in a season since 2010. However, bullpen problems, losing games to teams that had no business winning and failing to make the playoffs once more haunted the squad. The bright spots were DJ LeMahieu winning the National League batting title, the maturation of Jon Gray and the future prospects of other young pitchers.

Here is my after the season edition of random thoughts:

The Rockies are better off without Walt Weiss

I’m sorry but not sorry that Weiss has left town. He did some good things with the Rockies, I get it. He was popular with the players. He stuck with players and had their backs. These are very good traits.

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But the bottom line is this is a winning business, and Weiss didn’t win. He finished with a 283-365 overall record, which is a winning percentage of .437 (which is the worst mark in Rockies history). Though Gray substantially improved, Tyler Chatwood was lights out on the road and there were promising signs from German Marquez, Jeff Hoffman and Boone Logan, the bullpen was close to as an unmitigated disaster as you could get.

There were too many times when Weiss brought in the wrong guy in the wrong situation, or stuck with someone who was struggling to throw strikes. He showed too much faith in flameouts Jake McGee, Justin Miller, Chad Qualls, Jason Motte and Christian Bergman.

He claimed he was the right man for the job as he has spent 15 years with the organization. He may believe this, but his decision-making and his record prove otherwise.

The Rockies must make the next hire from a candidate from outside the organization. You can read Rox Pile’s Nolan Lees‘ list of five potential candidates. With the team on the cusp of being a very good team, getting a mind from outside the organizational culture who can bring in his own ideas and tie them in with the current talent on the roster could be the perfect marriage.

Other than a complete revamp of the bullpen, this is the No. 1 most important decision for general manager Jeff Bridich.

The Rockies made the right decision to sit LeMahieu for him to win the batting title

Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry argued he should have played, but the team made the right decision to sit him. This was a special year for LeMahieu, and who knows if he will ever win a batting title again (his career batting average is .300). Rox Pile’s Andrew McKinley made some good points as to why he is the Rockies MVP in our recent Colorado Rockies Roundtable discussion.

LeMahieu hated to sit, but when you have a chance to make history you take it. It is something he (and us fans) will remember forever and it capped off a career-best year for him, not just with his bat but also on the field (his defense was a superb .991 with just six errors on the year).

If he had batted over the weekend and failed to gain a hit and lost the title to the Nationals Daniel Murphy by a single point, he would have regretted it for the rest of his career. His level of performance was way too good for 146 games in 2016 to blow it over just two games.

Somehow, someway the Rockies have to get the bullpen figured out in 2017

The Rockies had an outside chance to make the playoffs in early August, but then lackluster performances by the team and the horrendous output by the bullpen doomed this team.

The last two games of the season were typical of the pen. The offense rallies in the 9th to tie the game, the bullpen blows it in the 10th with the long ball parade to lose the game.

Look at this list of names who failed to perform in 2016:

Jake McGee – 4.73 ERA, nine home runs given up

Chad Qualls – 5.23 ERA, five HRs given up

Jason Motte – 4.94 ERA, six HRs given up

Justin Miller – 5.70 ERA, six HRs given up

Eddie Butler – 7.17 ERA, 13 HRs given up (though he did start nine games)

Scott Oberg – 5.19 ERA, three HRs given up

Christian Bergman – 8.39 ERA, seven HRs given up

Jordan Lyles – 5.83 ERA, four HRs given up.

What do all these eight guys listed above have in common?

Not one of them should be in a Rockies uniform in 2017. I’m giving a pass to Carlos Estevez, Matt Carasiti and Miguel Castro because they are rookies or young pitchers, who should get better with more experience. The only bullpen guys who can hold their heads high is Adam Ottavino and Logan (2.67 and 3.69 ERAs respectively, seven HRs allowed combined).

This plan of signing experienced, cheaper guys has not worked and needs to be shelved. The Rockies never get any production out of these signings. Rockies ownership is scared to spend money on pitchers after the Mike Hampton/Denny Neagle debacle but they don’t have to go this crazy – they simply need to spend a little more money on better pitchers.

There has been talk about the Rockies making a run on Washington Nationals closer Mark Melancon, who is from Colorado. He had 47 saves and a 1.64 ERA in 2016 between the Nationals and the Pirates.

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Per he made $9,650,000 in 2016 and is arbitration-eligible. Perhaps he is a little too expensive for Rockies management. However, by signing him the team could move Ottavino to the eighth inning and they would have a nice 1-2 punch to close out games.

It’s a thought.

Whoever the Rockies end up signing (and hopefully in the process they open up the checkbook to a certain extent), these guys must not be afraid to throw strikes and must not nibble trying to find the corners of the strike zone. There were too many games this season where a pitcher looked afraid to throw strikes and spent too much time trying to paint a corner or trying to find the bottom of the zone on every pitch, when he clearly couldn’t do it repeatedly.

The Rockies have a good nucleus of a team, it just needs to add the right pieces and it needs the younger players to take the next step. The return of Trevor Story and the continued emergence of David Dahl, Raimel Tapia and Tom Murphy bode well for the offense.

Next: Colorado Rockies: 5 Candidates for the Open Manager Job

The Rockies have some very interesting, but also very important, decisions to make in this offseason. It is critical they show they have learnt from their previous mistakes, especially with their pitching strategy. The team, on paper, could be a 90 win team in 2017 with the talent on the roster right now.

In sum, it will take having the right pitchers on board for this to realistically occur.