I have a bunch of random thoughts flowing through my head and not sure each one deserves its own post. So here are a few things related to baseball and the Rockies….I am not sure how I can express how badly I cannot wait for April to arrive. Spring officially starts tomorrow and my family has been torturing me with emails and Facebook posts of them in Arizona playing golf, attending Spring Training games and drinking beer in shorts and t-shirts. I don’t like my family.
Coors and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
Keith Olbermann has a great blog on MLB.com called Baseball Nerd and he has written quite a few things about the Cactus League over the last week or two, including this post. At the bottom of this post he says
“ [snip] take a look at this, which might be – pound-for-pound – the best baseball stadium built in this country at least since 1962:”
And below that is a picture of Salt River. Rockies fans are spoiled. I have been to about 23-25 MLB ballparks and most of the parks in Arizona. I haven’t been to any in Florida (MLB or Spring Training) and MLB parks that I am told are wonderful like Seattle and the new digs in Minnesota, but I put Coors Field and Salt River at the top of my list. Parks like Wrigley and the House that Ruth Built are amazing because of the history, but as far as viewing pleasure, park amenities and just the joy of being at the ball field, Coors and Salt River have to be, easily, the best 1-2 punch for any big league club in baseball.
I wrote, somewhat in jest, a few weeks ago that Arenado needs to break camp with the Rockies and should be the teams Opening Day starter. At the time he was coming off a hot weekend at the plate against less than stellar pitching.
As of this writing Arenado is batting .258/.258/.742, he is still afraid to take a walk and this is still a terribly small sample size. …and a Spring Training sample at that.
The main argument against bringing Arenado to the Majors out of Spring Training is service time. From Wikipedia:
For purposes of salary arbitration and free agency, a player acquires a year of service time if the player remains on the major league roster for at least 172 days of the 182-day season.
This means the Rockies can get a nearly full season of Arenado if they keep him in the minors for the first few weeks of the season, but not lose any of their leverage as it relates to his salary arbitration years or when he is available for free agency.
Teams more and more often do this with their better players so they can have an additional year of control over that player before he starts to get salary rights. The Angels did this last year with Mike Trout and the Rays did it in 2008 with Evan Longoria and it has been done numerous times between.
My initial thought is that Arenado isn’t as good as Trout or Longoria or even close, so who cares if the Rockies burn a year of free agency with Arenado? Get him as much playing time as possible in 2013 so he can grow that much more, even if it is just a handful of games. Besides, he gives the Rockies the best chance of winning now with his glove alone at third base. The Rockies were by far the worst team defensively last year at third and Arenado immediately fills that major hole.
Then, on the other hand I think that it does make sense to send him down to AAA. The Rockies are going to stink in 2013, we know this, so why risk even a bit of the future by burning a year of Arenado. He can get some quality at-bats in Colorado Springs against better pitching than he saw last year and then come up in May sometime to give the fans of the Rockies something to watch. I know I am excited to see an infield with Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Rutledge and Arenado.
What do you think is the best use of Arenado? Let me know in the comments.
Best spring stats
Speaking of meaningless stats: who is leading the way for the Rockies this spring? (Minimum 30 ABs for hitters)
- Arenado leads the team in home runs with four (all four were hit in a four or five game span), extra base hits, slugging percentage and runs batted in
- Michael Cuddyer leads the team in hits and at-bats
- Dexter Fowler leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage
- In 18 2/3 innings pitched Jeff Francis has a 0.98 WHIP and 1.96 ERA, both easily the best among the pitchers who are going to, or could possibly, start for the Rockies in ’13
- Unfortunately of the five guys who likely will open the season in the Rockies rotation (Francis, Drew Pomeranz, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio and Jorge De La Rosa) only Francis and DLR have ERA’s under 5.50 and DLR’s WHIP is 1.42 which is really high
- It is only Spring Training, so you can pretty much forget all of this once the season begins
- And then remember it when the starting rotation for the Rockies has an ERA close to 5.00
Possible Opening Day Rosters/lineup
So what will the Rockies Opening Day lineup look like? Walt Weiss has announced that Chacin will start Opening Day for the Rockies (and pray that it goes better than his Rockies home opener start last year in which he gave up four runs in four innings that included five walks and four hits). It is widely believed that the Rockies opening day lineup will be:
Jordan Pacheco will play the role of super utility off of the bench and Tyler Colvin will see plenty of playing time relieving Helton, Cuddyer and occasionally filling in for Dex or CarGo. It is also safe to assume that Ramon Hernandez is on the team to give Rosario a break behind the plate even though Pacheco has been working on his catching skills.
In the rotation Chacin has Opening Day in Milwaukee and Francis will start the first game at Coors Field on April 5th against the San Diego Padres. My guess is DLR gets game number two with Juan Nicasio following him and Drew Pomeranz takes the fifth spot in the rotation. That would set up a right, left, right, left, left rotation and make it a bit more difficult for opposing managers to set their lineups.
The bullpen should be solid with Rafael Betancourt closing and Matt Belisle setting him up in the eighth. Rex Brothers will play a large role and the bullpen will be filled with a bunch of other guys that will probably spend the first month being sent to and from the minor leagues until it gets settled.
What do you think happens with guys like Eric Young Jr., Charlie Blackmon, Reid Brignac and DJ LaMahieu? There are only so many spots on this team for average players…