Rockies: 10 Spring Things to Ponder
10 Things of Spring to Ponder
1. Jon Gray will return to open 2018 to where it ended in 2017. He is expected to start the opener at Arizona on Thursday, facing the D-Backs in his first game that counts since Game 1 of the wild-card, which the Rockies lost 11-8. Zack Greinke, who started for the D-Backs, was scratched from Opening Day because of right groin tightness. Neither started had a decision nor a memorable start. They both gave up four runs – Gray while retiring four batters and Greinke while retiring 11.
2. Gray will become the fifth pitcher in Rockies history to start on Opening Day in back-to-back seasons, the second home-grown. Ubaldo Jimenez (2010-11) is the only other pitcher originally signed by the Rockies to have the honor. The other three were Kevin Ritz (1996-97), Darryl Kile (1998-99), and Mike Hampton (2001-02). Ritz was a part of the Rockies expansion draft prior to the inaugural season of 1993, and Kile and Hampton were major free-agent signees.
3. Jenny Cavnar’s ease at handling the play-by-play duties in AT&T Net’s telecast of the Rockies game on Friday has stirred attention that at time sounds like there was surprise at her work in the booth. The only people who would be surprise are the people who don’t know Cavnar. She’s a baseball rat by birth. Kidded once about whether she knew how to keep score, she quickly explained, “My dad was a high school baseball coach. My two brothers played baseball. Who do you think kept the scorebook?” She kept the book but more than that she studied the game.
4. David Dahl will open the season at Triple-A Albuquerque but health permitting odds are he will be in the big leagues long before the All-Star Break. Dahl has the five-skill ability. He will hit for average, hit for power, show an above average arm, played elite defense in any outfield spot, and steal bases. He just needs to get in regular playing time after a 2017 season gone bad, and get the physical test of the day-to-day grind to erase any concerns about a flareup of that stress reaction in his rib cage that derailed Dahl last spring.
5. Heading into my 43rd season covering Major League Baseball and I have never seen a pitching coach/bullpen coach combo that works together as well as Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster and bullpen coach Darren Holmes. They work as equals with excellent give-and-take, sharing the insights each has from a lifetime in the game. And the open approach is extended to organizational pitching coordinators Doug Linton and Darryl Scott, and director of pitching operations Mark Wiley. Throw in the pitching expertise of manager Bud Black and there should be no surprise at the quality of pitching coming out of the farm system.
6. The Rockies go into Sunday’s exhibition game with a 12-15 record. Big deal? No. The four times the Rockies have advanced to the post-season they have never finished the spring with a record in which they had two or more wins than losses. In the 11 seasons they have had two or more wins than losses they have had a winning record in the regular season only twice, and never finished higher than third place.
7. The buzz in the clubhouse the day Carlos Gonzalez signed his one-year deal to return to the Rockies underscored how respect Gonzalez is among his teammates. Even during his struggles last year Gonzalez always had a smile on his face during post-game sessions, when he was constantly counseling the younger players on dealing with the day-to-day grind. He also showed life down the stretch, having the best September of any player on the team, a sign that there is still plenty of life in his bat.
8. Since rattling off three consecutive winning seasons 1995-97 the Rockies have had back-to-back winning seasons only once in 20 seasons 2009-2010. But then they have had a winning record in only eight times in their 25-year existence.
9. The Rockies have advanced to the World Series once and were swept by the Red Sox in four games. There are, however, 10 other teams that either have not won a World Series since the Rockies inception, including Tampa Bay, which has only been around for 20 years and did lose to the Phillies in the 2008 World Series.
10. Rockies fans have been treated to five seasons of watching Nolan Arenado, who analytics be dammed, is the best third baseman – and in the argument for the best player – in the game. Managers/coaches have voted him a Gold Glove in all five seasons in the big leagues as the best defensive third baseman in the NL, and they have voted him a Silver Slugger the last three years as the best offensive third baseman in the NL. So if a player is the best offensive and defensive player at his position it make sense that he is the best player at that position. And to think, he is working harder this spring to get better than ever before.