November 28, 2022

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies mailbag.

Hi Patrick, thanks for another great season of coverage!

The question on everyone’s mind: Why are the Rockies the way they are? It’s a joke. Serious question: It was great to see Brendan Rodgers step up and have a breakout year in 2022. In your all-too-early 2023 predictions, who will hold that title next season? Either as a rookie or as a resurgence.

Ron, Denver

Ron, thanks for the compliment and thanks for reading. It is highly appreciated.

I’ll give you my two candidates for rebound/rebound seasons.

The rookie: shortstop Ezequiel Tovar. Like any young player, he will experience ups and downs, but I expect him to be great in the field and solid at the plate, maybe hitting .265 with a .730 OPS and maybe hitting 15 homers.

The resurgent player: Third baseman Ryan McMahon. He will be a much more consistent fielder and I still think he can hit .265 with 25-30 home runs.

The Houston Astros championship team seemed to have a high level of Latin American talent. Looking at the Rockies roster, are they lacking in that department?

Sun., Longmont

Dom, that’s an interesting question and one I hadn’t considered until you brought it up. Conclusion: Yes, the Astros had more Latino impact players than the Rockies. And I think the Rockies fell off a bit with their Latino players for a few years, mostly because of the political and social strife in Venezuela.

If you look at the heart of the Astros’ championship team, many of them are Latino players, including catcher Martin Maldonado, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, second baseman Jose Altuve and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez.

On the mound, Houston had Luis Garcia, Frember Valdez, José Urquidy and Cristian Javier, among others.

Running the numbers, the Rockies had 13 Latino players see major league playing time last season compared to 22 for the Astros.

But that said, the Rockies had a number of key Latino players on their roster in 2022: catcher Elias Diaz; shortstop Jose Iglesias; outfielder Yonathan Daza; starters German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela and Jose Urena; and relievers Carlos Estevez, Alex Colome, Jhoulys Chacin and Dinelson Lamet.

And two young players, shortstop Ezequiel Tovar and corner infielder Elehuris Montero, figure to be important players going forward.

Compared to the Astros, the Rockies clearly lack overall talent and depth. But I think the Rockies’ pipeline to Latino baseball players is pretty strong. I also think that Rolando Fernandez, the Rockies’ vice president of scouting and international development, is one of the best men in the organization.

Also, if you look at the Rockies’ farm system, many of their top young outfield prospects, like shortstop Adael Amador, come from Latin America. That’s one of the reasons the Rockies were able to go pitcher-heavy during this year’s draft.

I was surprised to read that the Rockies’ odds of winning the World Series dropped from 75-1 in 2022 to 100-1 in 2023. Is that an indictment of their overall lack of talent, lack of pitching improvement, or signings of 2022 this did not pay? That future doesn’t look very bright.

Robert Emmerling, Limon

Robert, I was a bit surprised too. And ESPN’s David Schoenfield ranked the Rockies 27th out of 30 teams. Oh!

I think the Rockies lack of pitching quality is the #1 reason the Vegas wise guys are on the team. Also, Colorado’s offense was abysmal last season, so that colored a lot of opinions.

I also think the national pundits have dismissed Kris Bryant as a major force for the Rockies. He has a lot to prove, sure, but if he bounces back, Colorado will instantly be a better team.

But clearly, pundits see the Rockies as a franchise headed in the wrong direction.

Why should Rockies fans be excited about this team until a new general manager and front office management is in place? Jon Daniels led the Rangers to two World Series appearances and they let him go, Dayton Moore won the World Series and they let him go. Why can’t the Rockies make real changes?

Blake, Denver

Blake, I have often answered questions on this topic. The reasons have become evident over the years:

  1. Owner Dick Monfort is very loyal to his longtime employees and it’s just not in his nature to change things.
  2. Monfort’s two sons, Sterling and Walker, are being groomed for important roles in the organization. Walker Monfort is currently the Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. Sterling Monfort is the Director of Professional Scouting.
  3. The Rockies believe their “in-house” front office staff is experienced and has earned the right to be promoted.
  4. Playing at altitude presents the toughest challenge in the majors, and the Rockies believe they understand the situation better than anyone outside.
  5. The Rockies still draw fans to Coors Field. They averaged 32,467 per game last season, ninth best in the majors.

Hi Patrick, watching the World Series reminded me how far along the Rockies are with their bullpen and rotation arms. Now is the time for the Rox to trade Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers for a big arm. You can always find a good glove to play second/third base and swing for average.

And if Colorado needs a third baseman, they could look to move Kris Bryant back to third full-time. Remember when the Braves tried to move Chipper (Jones) to left? It was a failed experiment, and like Jones, Bryant should be moved to the infield. You want his bat in the lineup and not hurt him running around Coors Field.

Rip, Aurora

Rip, fans (and the media) often ask for trades, but quality trades are hard to complete.

If he were general manager Bill Schmidt, he would certainly explore the trades of Rodgers and McMahon, as well as first baseman CJ Cron, in exchange for solid starting pitching. But the pitcher(s) should be relatively young, and other teams will make a hard bargain for quality arms. The cost can be prohibitive.

But if, say, the Rockies were to make a deal for Rodgers, it would make sense to move Bryant back to third base and move McMahon back to second.

But here’s the thing. The Rockies also need a big boost in their offense, so trading McMahon or Rodgers for a middle-of-the-road pitcher doesn’t make sense, either in the short or long term.

In my opinion, the Rockies aren’t going to turn things around in 2023, so they may have to hold on and wait for some of their young pitchers to break out in 2024-25.

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