Colorado Rockies Quick Hits: NL West strength, bench, more
By Kevin Henry
As we make our way through the last Tuesday of February, let’s take a look at some news and notes surrounding the Colorado Rockies.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies are considered to be the leading teams in the National League West this season with the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks all picked to fight for the third through fifth spots in the division. But are those three “other” teams going to be better than people think next year?
This MLB.com article believes that the Diamondbacks and Giants are among the five MLB teams that could be better in 2019 than people think. Mind you, there are a lot of “ifs” that go into that prediction but there is no question that the Padres have made a splash this spring by inking Manny Machado to go along with a young core of solid talent (the Padres still need a lot of pitching help before they should be in any conversation for contention any time soon). There is also still talk that the Giants or Dodgers could land the “other” big free agent of the offseason in Bryce Harper.
We have written about how the Rockies have to take advantage of the schedule when playing the Giants, Padres or Diamondbacks. However, some projections have the D-backs just two games behind the Rockies in the final 2019 standings.
Could the NL West be stronger than originally predicted? We will soon find out.
Speaking of Arizona, Mark Reynolds showed in Monday’s exhibition game against the Kansas City Royals exactly what he can bring to the Rockies this season.
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Reynolds, signed in the offseason to a minor league contract, blasted a 3-1 pitch from Brian Flynn for a grand slam in Colorado’s big win over the Royals on Monday afternoon. We predicted three weeks ago that the 35-year-old Reynolds will make the Opening Day roster and provide a strong right-handed bat off the bench. Let’s not forget that Daniel Murphy was signed to be Colorado’s first baseman so, outside of a platoon situation, Reynolds will likely contribute more with his bat than his glove.
Reynolds has said he isn’t going to the minor leagues, a statement which somewhat forces Colorado’s hand on adding him to the roster or risk losing him. However, the power and veteran leadership that Reynolds can bring to the team will likely solidify a Rockies bench in the same way that the signing of Matt Holliday did late last season. Bringing a veteran right-handed hitter off the bench could be a key weapon for the Rockies throughout the season this year, rather than just the short time they had Holliday in 2018.
Another good sign out of Monday’s game against the Royals? Raimel Tapia leading off the game with a home run and adding a two-run single later in the contest. Tapia (who went 3-for-3 on Monday) will also likely start the season on the bench but he’ll be taking up a roster spot on Opening Day. He needs to be able to contribute at the plate (something he has struggled to do consistently in limited previous playing time) in order for the Rockies to have a left-handed outfield option they can trust in a pinch-hitting role. We talked a lot about that in this recent article.
And how about a pair of Rockies coming in as part of Sports Illustrated’s top 100 players of the season? Nolan Arenado at number 8 and Trevor Story at number 46. Check out all of the rankings here.