Ranking the Rockies, No. 23: González Germen’s days with the Rockies are likely over
From December 2014 to February 2015, González Germen was designated for assignment four times. He was, briefly, a member of the Mets, Yankees, Rangers, and Cubs. After the Cubs cut him loose, the Rockies picked him up off waivers in July 2015. That’s where he made his home for the next year, which for him must have felt like a comfort.
On the surface, Germen pitched well in 2015. He posted a 3.86 ERA in 32.2 innings. However, those “peripheral” stats that are in fact central to a pitcher’s success, strikeouts and walks, told a truer story. He struck out 6.9 batters per nine innings, which is fine, but he also walked 5.8 per nine innings, which is not at all fine. Not at all.
In 2016, his ERA caught up to his strikeouts and walks. He threw 40.2 innings, and struck out 7.1 strikeouts batters per nine and walked and 5.5 walks. Those are similar to the previous year. But his ERA hopped to 5.31. That he pitched so many innings from April until August shows how poorly off the Rockies’ bullpen was most of the season.
The Rockies designated Germen for assignment in August. He cleared waivers and has since declared free agency. It’s tempting to say that we’ve seen the last of Germen in a Rockies’ uniform, but we went through that same song and dance last offseason. The difference this time around is that it looks like the Rockies will have some bullpen depth to work from, especially in the form of young pitchers who need big league experience.
Germen is the same, but the Rockies are different, so now, really and truly, we’ve very probably seen the last of Germen in a Rockies’ uniform. Probably. Hopefully.
Rockies news and links for October 23, 2016.
Thomas Harding reports that the Rockies are in the process of expanding their research and development staff. The Rockies, according to Harding, have one of the smaller research and development staffs in the majors, and the hires they plan to make soon will help the club interpret and translate the information available. Assistant general manager Zack Rosenthal also assured Harding that "it doesn't mean the club will be run by soulless computers," which I suppose is a nice thing to know, if not really a fear any reasonable person has.
It's easy to point to this staff expansion and commend the Rockies for their progressive ways; however, every team in baseball has a research and development staff. We're well beyond the point where simply having people thinking about baseball problems through an analytical lens provides an advantage. Everything comes down to how the information is ultimately used. Given the success the Rockies have had with implementing the shift, in terms of runs saved as well as getting players used to it, I'm hopeful that they'll use it well.
Kevin Henry takes a stab at predicting what the Rockies' lineup will look like in 2017. What is most interesting about this exercise is how predictable it is. That's a good thing. It shows that the Rockies are already in a good place. They still need somebody to play first base, and there's still a possibility that an outfielder will be traded, but the Rockies should feel pretty good about where the lineup stands right now—health permitting, of course.
There is a Rockies' nugget in David Laurila's weekly column. First, he references the Rockies' and Diamondbacks' managerial openings, and he floats Bud Black, Torey Lovullo, and Dave Martinez as "names being bandied about." He suggests that if he were compelled to choose, he'd go with Martinez. I would as well.
Sometimes, he was really good, sometimes he was really bad. That’s Scott Oberg.
In 16 of Scott Oberg’s 24 appearances this season, he didn’t give up a run. Fourteen of Oberg’s 26 innings were clean. Oberg came into the game and the score remained the same until he left.
Perhaps Oberg’s 2016 can be best described as “misremembered.” Or, maybe it couldn’t. Oberg did give up runs, after all. He finished with an ERA over 5.00 and clearly showed moments where he didn’t belong in the major leagues. But, it’s still unfair to consider his 2016 a total failure. 16 times Scott Oberg kept the game the same, which is the only job a reliever has, all things considered. That’s two-thirds of his appearances. 66 percent of the time Scott Oberg was good.
When Oberg was bad, though, he was extremely bad. He gave up six runs in two appearances to Texas, three runs to St. Louis, two to Arizona, and a long home run to Washington. In his first appearance of the year, he took the Rockies completely out of a game with the Pirates by allowing a terrible three run home run. Oberg represented the bullpen’s worst moments at times, personifying the entire unit’s maddening inconsistency.
Scott Oberg is an enigma. He’s a man that you seemingly could defend, if you wanted to. You could say, “he’s 26! He had some really good moments! Don’t give up on him yet!” and who could tell you that you’re wrong? He did have some really good moments.
But you could also irrationally hate his guts. You could say “he can only pitch when nothing is on the line! He gets rocked by good hitters! He had some horrible moments!” And who could tell you that you’re wrong? He did have some really bad moments, seemingly always when the game meant the most. Oberg could fit nicely and snugly into that box of pessimism, if you wanted to put him there.
The problem with Oberg is the problem with most relievers. They’re effective until suddenly they aren’t. But nobody has any idea when that moment will be. Oberg could walk into 2017 and throw 58 scoreless innings—or not. Nobody has really any idea who or what Scott Oberg is, besides a 26-year-old reliever who had some good moments and some bad moments.
Scott Oberg was a roulette wheel with 66 percente of the slots reading GOOD and 33 percent reading REALLY BAD. How much do you bet on him before people start to worry you have a gambling problem? Scott Oberg’s 2016 was an enigma, and his 2017 may be even more so.
Rockies news and links for October 23, 2016.
The first question posed to Patrick Saunders in his mailbag asked about where Walt Weiss and Jeff Bridich differed in philosophy. Saunders responded that Weiss "wanted to manage based on his gut feelings" more than communications with the front office. "He didn't like what he perceived was interference from the front office," Saunders suggests.
If we want to map "old school" and "new school" on to managers, it probably comes down to this question. No front office would discount soft factors such as chemistry and instinct, and few managers would discredit the value of analytics; however, no front office would be keen on on the outdated idea that the general manager provides the players and the manager does as he will in the game. Clint Hurdle has even adapted to the model of vertical communication regarding in-game tactics, and to great success. Walt Weiss, it appears, might have been more antique than we realized.
Later in the mailbag, Saunders suggests that he thinks Bud Black is the right person for the job. While I wouldn't hate it, the prospect of Black coming in to manage the Rockies right now would smack of a conservative search and a lack of creativity. Black's a solid manager, but I don't think he's right leading a young team through a growth period and, let's hope, toward a window of contention.
The Chicago Cubs, you might have heard, have won the National League pennant and are going to the World Series for the first time since baseball became modern. Jarrett Seidler at Baseball Prospectus selects some of the key moves the Cubs made since hiring Theo Epstein to lead baseball operations five years ago. In short, some smart and timely trades, the benefit of drafting high, and signing big ticket free agents when the time was right led to the Cubs' pennant win. It's not that all teams that do those things will create a baseball team as good as the Cubs are, but it doesn't hurt.
Miller created buzz with his 2015 performance, but he didn’t come close to living up to it in 2016.
The Rockies signed Justin Miller in November 2014 to shore up their bullpen. The first year of the pact went great. Miller struck out 10.26 batters per nine innings in 33.1 innings of work in 2015. His 94 mph fastball from the right side didn’t stand out in terms of velocity, but he coupled it with a nice slider that generated a lot of swings and misses. Heading into 2016, he was a candidate to get late inning work in the Rockies bullpen.
Maybe it was relievers being relievers. Maybe 2015 was smoke and mirrors. Maybe he just got worse. But the 2016 version of Justin Miller did not live up to the potential seen in the 2015 iteration.
First, Miller was simply more hittable in 2016. In 2015, batters hit .196 against his fastball and .155 against his slider. In 2016, they hit .324 and .267 against those pitches. One could point to the higher than usual .364 BABIP against to bring up bad luck and explain the changes away (one would also have to do the same with the .244 BABIP against in 2015, which is unusually low and often evidence of good luck), but there’s more to it.
Miller was “more hittable” in that batters hit more of his pitches. The trouble was most evident in his slider. His put away pitch wasn’t nearly as effective generating whiffs this year, 11.81 percent, compared to last year’s 17.07. His BABIP against went up because batters put more of his balls in play.
Let’s add on the fact that his walk rate went from 2.97 per nine in 2015 to 4.22 in 2016, and that he performed much less well in high-leverage situations, and we have the picture of a relief pitcher who went from tantalizing to tatterdemalion in a matter of months.
Miller rejected an outright assignment to Triple-A and declared free agency earlier this month. His time with the Rockies is finished, but he could still surface with another team in need of relief.
Rockies news, notes and links for Saturday, October 22nd.
Bowman Baseball Cards has named Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado among the top 25 players in Arizona Fall League history, in honor of the league’s 25th season. Arenado hit .388/.423/.636 with six home runs and 33 RBI in 29 games for the Salt River Rafters in 2011. Matt Holiday (2002, 2003) and Troy Tulowitzki (2006) were also named to the top 25. Players will be honored with oversized baseball cards, distributed to the first 1,000 AFL fans entering the parks. Both Arenado and Tulowitzki will be honored November 3rd at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
James Keating over at RoxPile goes back in Rockies history in this list of the Rockies top five right fielders. They represent the five leaders in franchise history in fWAR, current players not considered.
Bill Murray met with media at the White House to address the public on the state of the Chicago Cubs Friday. Murray—who received this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from President Obama—took questions and gave his predictions on the outcome of today’s Game 6 of the NLCS, with much respect to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Jorge overcame a bad start to close out his Rockies career respectably, even if he didn't get the finale he deserved.
The winningest and arguably most effective pitcher in Colorado Rockies history has almost certainly pitched his final inning in Denver. If you aren't a hard-core Rockies fan, you probably didn't notice.
There was no grand, Heltonesque sendoff for Jorge De La Rosa. Rather, he was pulled in the middle of an inning during a bad start on a day when Coors Field was full of Cardinals fans. In an odd way, this end was fitting for Jorge, who never got the respect he deserved in Denver.
Through the first two months of the season JDLR was about as bad as he's ever been. His ERA ballooned to 10.08 on June 1, and it seemed like the 35 year old had nothing left in the tank. Then, on June 9, he came on in relief of Chad Bettis in the fourth inning and proceeded to throw four perfect innings. I remember sitting in the stands that day and feeling amazed at what I was seeing, as well as happy that he seemed to have figured it out. Over the rest of the season, De La Rosa put together respectable numbers, going 7-5 with a very Jorge-like 4.29 ERA over his final 18 appearances, 16 of which were starts.
His final 2016 numbers: 8-9 with a 5.51 ERA in 27 appearances and 24 starts. His WHIP of 1.642 was the highest for a full season in Colorado, and his rWAR of exactly -0.1 was also his lowest, outside of the 2012 season when he started just three games. His ERA+ of 89 was also the first time he's registered a below average season according to that metric since he joined the Rockies.
Despite a less-than-stellar final year, Jorge's career numbers with the Rockies are sensational. He leads the franchise all-time with 86 wins. He's third all-time among qualifiers with a 4.35 ERA, and second overall (first among starters) with a .585 winning percentage. Only Aaron Cook started more games or pitched more innings, and Jorge struck out 985 batters in a Rockies uniform; over 200 more than Ubaldo Jimenez's second place total.
When Jorge De La Rosa started he gave the Rockies a better chance to win than any other pitcher over the course of his career, especially at home. That's reflected in his win-loss record.
In 100 career starts at Coors Field, JDLR posted an absurd 53-20 record, along with a 4.29 ERA. No one mastered the most hitter-friendly park in baseball better than Jorge did, and if they measured WAR purely for home starts, I'm sure he would be number one in Rockies history. All told, only Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Cook were worth more than the 15.2 rWAR Jorge amassed over the course of his Rockies career.
And so No. 29 will ride off into the sunset, having given the Colorado Rockies nine years of consistency and stability. So many other pitchers have come and gone since the start of the 2008 season, and he was there for all of it. He never threw a shutout or a no-hitter, and he never got to pitch in a playoff game, but Jorge De La Rosa should be remembered by every Rockies fan as the most dependable pitcher the franchise has ever had.
Jorge hasn't officially retired, but it's nearly certain that he won't pitch another game in a Rockies uniform.
2016-10-21T08:00:05-06:00Valaika's claim to fame as a kid was getting Sammy Sosa's autograph. Now, he's making a real name for himself. Every sports fan has favorite players they loved to watch growing up. For the athletes who actually make it to the big leagues, especially in baseball, sometimes those favorite players helped shape the way they emulate their own skills on the field. For Colorado Rockies rookie Pat Valaika, those players were primarily Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter, with a little bit of Sammy Sosa thrown in the mix. Valaika—a utility player who plays in the four, five and six positions inside the diamond—was called up to the Rockies from Albuquerque early in September. But because those three positions were pretty regularly guarded by the likes of DJ LeMahieu, Cristhian Adames, Daniel Descalso—after the injured departure of Trevor Story—and Nolan Arenado, the 24-year-old didn't see much playing time. When it came to the baseball heroes he watched growing up, as an aspiring major leaguer himself, Valaika said he stuck to the shortstops. "They're both just captains," Valaika said. "I mean, he's Jeter. He was making incredible plays and the amount of effort he played with, it was very intense on and off the field. Garciaparra was quirky. He had all the batting glove things, so when he came to L.A. for a little bit, I got to watch him. That was cool." Valaika said that, without a doubt, he tried to formulate his own game after that of his two idols growing up. But doing that is nothing out of the ordinary, in his opinion. "I mean I think everyone did," Valaika said. "You know, growing up in practice, you get a ball in the six hole, you want to do the Jeter jump throw. It's iconic." It's not necessarily just the athleticism of these pro athletes that resonates with impressionable child athletes, like Valaika once was. "There are certain things that of course, everyone emulates, but I think most of all, you just try to emulate more of their character and how they played the game. I think that's what impressed me about them." Although Valaika never got the chance to meet Jeter, he did have a minor run-in with Garciaparra. "I got to meet Nomar in college. I think he was announcing one of the games. He was at the field, so I got to meet him, which was cool," Valaika said. "I had just gotten drafted, so it was a nice lead in. He congratulated me and so it was cool talking to him." Valaika admits that he was never "big on autographs," but despite his aversion to the John Hancocks, he did get one from a star. "I think the best one I ever got was Sammy Sosa. He signed my hat one time," Valaika said. "My dad took me out to spring training, so that was my claim to fame. I got Sammy Sosa's autograph." Now, he has a different claim to fame. Though Valaika made only 19 trips to the plate with the Rockies during his brief cup of coffee, he made the best of it with three runs scored, five hits, a homer and two RBI. No matter where the rest of his career may take him—whether he stays in the big leagues next year or has to work his way back up again—one thing is certain: Valaika wouldn't be where he is today without the inspiration of some of his childhood heroes, who influenced him to follow in their footsteps. Valaika in the AFL Valaika, the only one of the seven Rockies representatives in the Arizona Fall League who has reached the majors, has just five hits in 20 at-bats through five games for the Salt River Rafters but has exhibited one of the best approaches of any player in the circuit, per Fangraphs' Eric Longenhagen. [...]