Results tagged ‘ Christian Bergman ’
New general manager Jeff Bridich, manager Walt Weiss and the front office he has put together are making quick work of assessing the Rockies’ roster. With the general managers meetings starting Monday in Phoenix, they must be prepared for talks with other clubs and negotiations with potential free agents.
I have no money for free agents. My front office staff consists of the birds and squirrels running around the neighborhood. So I’ll take some time to dig through the roster and bounce the ideas off you, the fans. Feel free to spend your lunch break (well, your work time, but we’ll keep that between us) walking through the tough Rockies questions with me.
Feel free to comment on Twitter: @harding_at_mlb
WARNING: There’s a lot here. The squirrels and birds crunched numbers and presented many scenarios. They’ve got a future in management.
Let’s look at the key question.
What type of pitching do the Rockies need to contend now and in the future?
Their last two playoff appearances could offer guidelines.
The Rockies went to the 2007 World Series based on pitching depth. They lost three of their five starters in August, and changed closers during the season, but developed and acquired good enough parts to stay in the race and win the National League Wild Card.
In 2009, they earned the NL Wild Card based on health and quality — five guys made all but eight starts, which mean they were whole enough and good enough to keep taking the ball. There was enough bullpen strength to withstand second-half injuries to lefty Alan Embree and closer Huston Street.
So, as trade rumors fly, it all comes back to the question: How close is Rockies’ pitching staff to the depth of 2007 and the quality of 2009?
That explains why the Rockies are listening to offers, not only for veteran first baseman Justin Morneau but for the very top guys on their payroll, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Let’s look at the rotation as it stands as the Rockies attempt to leap from 66-96 to contentions in the NL West:
Lefty Jorge De La Rosa is the clear leader. He’s by no means the equal of the front of the rotations of the defending NL West champion Dodgers or the World Series champ Giants, but not many folks can say they’ve thrived at Coors the way De La Rosa has.
Righty Jhoulys Chacin saw his 2014 limited to 11 starts by issues with his rotator cuff and labrum. Chacin, the club and doctors decided on rehab and strengthening rather than surgery. Success of the decision will depend on the effectiveness of his rehab, diligent maintenance and, to some degree, good fortune. Not impossible, but it’s a lot.
Righty Jordan Lyles and lefty Tyler Matzek, each 24, showed ability in their first seasons in Purple Pinstripes. Lyles went in with big-league time with the Astros. Matzek was making his debut. Can they go from developing talents to stalwarts? Once again, it’s asking a lot, but it’s not impossible.
Beyond those four, there are options but none that compare to the competition. Righty Christian Bergman has more heart than stuff, but is promising because of his brainpower and competitiveness. The prospects behind him all have questions. Righty Eddie Butler’s debut year was spoiled by shoulder pain. Righty prospect Jon Gray is coming off his first full pro season, and the Rockies were careful with him because of fatigue at the end. Lefty prospect Tyler Anderson finished the year with an elbow issue that he’s trying to rehab over the winter.
Now, let’s look at the bullpen:
Ageless LaTroy Hawkins returns as closer. With no big changes, it’s the same plan as last year – hope another option develops so Hawkins can pitch earlier in games.
Righty Adam Ottavino overcame a month of struggles impressively enough last season that the Rockies see a bright future. There’s still the need to improve against left-handed hitters. Who knows? Maybe if he finds the magic against lefties, he could slide into the ninth inning.
Lefty Rex Brothers went from a dazzling year in 2013 to a simply awful one in 2014. Part o the problem was the workload that fell to him when lefty Boone Logan was hampered by elbow issues throughout the first year of his three-year contract. The Rockies need rebounds from both.
Righty Tommy Kahnle stuck out the full year as a Rule 5 Draft pick and showed a workable fastball-changeup mix. He’ll need to take this year’s experience and show greater savvy to earn an increased role.
Beyond that are guys trying to establish themselves. Righty Brooks Brown’s control and ability to change speeds during his callups put him ahead of many pitchers who were on the staff the full year. The Rockies also hope for progress righty Juan Nicasio and lefty Christian Friedrich, who struggled as starters and were moved to the bullpen.
Weigh the dependable parts, the hopefuls and the holes, and you get a pitching staff that needs several quality pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen. Given that, how possible is it for the Rockies to contend in 2015? Are they prepared if they don’t content?
A fine piece yesterday from Dave Cameron of Fangraphs suggests that extending the $15.3 million qualifying offer to first baseman-outfielder Michael Cuddyer could be construed as part of rebuilding rather than an attempt to hold the current lineup together. Cuddyer gets a nice payday, and if the Rockies are struggling at the deadline he could be dealt.
But these are the Major Leagues, where the majority of teams are in position to at least dream at the deadline. While there is a future to contend with, I and the wildlife outside my door want the Rockies to have a fighting chance in the present.
So here are some questions:
Say the Rockies hold a strong lineup together and hold onto their big multi-year contracts, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. They could hope to receive a solid veteran for the starting rotation for Morneau. Then they could go bargain hunting via free agency for another starter – say righty Justin Masterson, who is trying to rebuild his value after a rough 2014, or lefty Brett Anderson or righty Aaron Harang, who have proven ability but questionable health histories.
Say the Rockies push hard to deal Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Both are coming off shortened seasons because of surgeries, which might give other teams pause. The Rockies have said they will listen, and have given indications that clubs would have to make offers based on the players if healthy. Can they expect to receive star players who can rebuild the team?
Let’s say the Rockies seek immediate payroll relief, rather than star-for-star deals or situations where they’re eating huge portions of the salaries of Tulowitkzi and Gonzalez. This is where the dreams get big.
With the money saved, maybe they can’t land any of the big three free-agent starters — James Shields, Max Scherzer or Jon Lester — and second-tier starters such as Ervin Santana and Brandon McCarthy could be risky propositions at Coors Field. But how about catcher Russell Martin, who could have strong offense at Coors and help the young starters? How about a big offer to righty reliever Andrew Miller, who could be the closer immediately? Righty setup Luke Gregerson pitched for the Athletics last year, but he has a long history in the NL West based on his days with the Padres.
All this leaves the Rockies with tough decisions.
The feeling has been they want one more run with their lineup core, only with some pitching added. They will have to believe they can acquire enough pitching through dealing not just Morneau but two arbitration-eligible chips – catcher Wilin Rosario, who could be a fit as a catcher-designated hitter in the American League, and outfielder Drew Stubbs, who recaptured some of his run-producing potential with the Rockies.
To succeed, such a plan has to have the Rockies stay healthy in the rotation, contend enough to be able to make trades at next summer’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, and finish the year with a roster and payroll capable of succeeding in future years.
All this makes the big trade sounds attractive, but there are risks.
Any deal involving Tulowitzki or Gonzalez would leave a big hole. When healthy, they not only are All-Stars and offensive threats, but they’re Gold Glove Award types. Also, if the Rockies don’t eat salary, the return might be less than if they were more willing in that regard. They’d have to count on any position player having his stats enhanced at Coors Field, and any young pitcher being an immediate help — an iffy proposition, based on history.
Should the Rockies take the plunge and deal Tulowitkzi or Gonzalez, or both, they key is not stopping there. Some of the players who come in a trade may have to be spun to other teams, especially if they use hitting prospects they receive to pull in pitchers.
— Thomas Harding
If the day ends in “y,” you can count on a bunch of Rockies injury updates.
Rockies.com will have stories on shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s dry needling procedure scheduled for Monday in Philadelphia, as well as lefty Boone Logan and first baseman Justin Morneau beginning injury rehab assignments Monday. Here’s more:
— The Rockies went into Sunday down two outfielders because Carlos Gonzalez rolled his right ankle at home Saturday, and was still sore, and Drew Stubbs was still recovering from turning his left foot awkwardly while hitting a home run in Saturday night’s 8-1 victory over the Pirates. Both players were in uniform Sunday enjoying Family Day activities. Gonzalez’s ankle was taped heavily. Stubbs was walking normally, but it wasn’t clear if he could handle quick-burst activity.
— Righty Jordan Lyles struck out four and gave up no runs, three hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings on Saturday for Class A Modesto in his first injury rehab start since suffering a broken left hand on June 4.
— Righty Christian Bergman, out since suffering a broken left hand when hit by a line drive on June 20, make his first injury rehab start Tuesday at Double-A Tulsa against Springfield. Bergman is scheduled for about 70 pitches. Because Springfield is a Cardinals affiliate, the game will be played under National League rules, so Bergman will test the injury batting. Bergman said the hand is still sore when performing some movements, but he’s fine catching return throws from the catcher and none of the soreness is debilitating.
— Righty Jhoulys Chacin, out with a muscle strain and a slight labrum tear in his throwing shoulder, reported feeling fine after three plasma-rich platelet treatments. He’ll be checked Monday, and if all goes well he’ll begin a strengthening program, followed by a throwing program. Chacin has said he wants to return by season’s end, but it’s doubtful he can return.
— Thomas Harding
Here’s stuff that isn’t fun, though:
— The Rockies scratched Justin Morneau before Friday night’s game against the Pirates at PNC Park because of neck stiffness. It was a problem during Spring Training and maybe once or twice when the season began, but at least it has not been a chronic issue. It’s Morneau’s return to Pittsburgh, where he spent the final month of last regular season and the National League Wild Card game, and Division Series loss to the Cardinals.
Charlie Culberson replaces Morneau. Culberson has never played at first base in the Majors or the Minors.
— Right-handed prospect Eddie Butler’s injury second rehab start (right rotator cuff strain) was postponed from Thursday to Friday. Butler was in Memphis for the game, but his Colorado Springs Sky Sox didn’t make it because of flight issues. Butler will pitch against the Memphis Redbirds at 6:05 p.m. MT. On Saturday, Butler went four innings and gave up three runs on two hits and two walks, with two strikeouts, while pitching for Class A Modesto on Saturday.
— Outfielder Michael Cuddyer (left shoulder fracture) and right-handed pitcher Christian Bergman (left hand fracture) are on the trip and working out. They’ll have examinations when the team returns to Denver Friday to determine their next rehab steps.
— Right-handed reliever Nick Masset (left patellar tendon strain) faced hitters for 20 pitches on Thursday night at PNC Park. If all goes well, he will be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday.
— Thomas Harding