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Updated: 2018-01-18T06:00:03-07:00


Would the Rockies be wise to consider trading Ian Desmond?


Rockies news and links for January 18, 2018 Colorado Rockies: Would trading Ian Desmond be a good idea? | Rox PileRox Pile provides the rundown on a trade idea initially proposed by Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The idea is trading Ian Desmond to the New York Yankees in exchange for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. And for the life of me, I can’t see this trade making sense for either side. If you’re not aware of the atrocity of the Ellsbury contract, prepare to be enlightened. Ellsbury is owed $64.4 million over the next three seasons, with a club option of $21 million for the 2021 campaign. In the first four years of this deal, Ellsbury has hit .264/.330/.386. Using Baseball Prospectus’ WARP model, Ellsbury has been worth 4.97 wins above replacement during the 2014-2017 stretch. For reference, Charlie Blackmon was worth 7.93 WARP in 2017 alone. Suffice to say, that’s not ideal production for a guy like Ellsbury, who will be one of the top 30 highest paid players in baseball in 2018, assuming Yu Darvish, JD Martinez, Eric Hosmer, and Jake Arrieta top his average annual value with their new contracts, which seemed like a sure thing as the beginning of the offseason, but not so much now with the market remaining stagnant. After an otherworldly 9.4 fWAR age-28 campaign in 2011 with the Boston Red Sox, Ellsbury is now 34 years of age and certainly looks to be on the decline. Obviously, this is a contract that Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman would like removed from his roster, especially with Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, and the newly-acquired Giancarlo Stanton all on hand to play the outfield. I certainly can’t view Ellsbury as a player that the Rockies would want to have on their roster in any form in 2018. I also don’t see how Desmond would be a fit on the Yankees considering the glut of outfielders mentioned. Desmond can play first base (to some extent), which might represent an insurance policy in case Greg Bird struggles for the Yanks, but someone like Todd Frazier could easily be signed for a lower cost. Ultimately, Sherman seems to be suggesting a change-of-scenery swap of large contracts. And I say “large” instead of “bad”, because Desmond’s contract should not be considered definitively bad after his first, injury-plagued season in Colorado. Much has been said about Desmond’s struggles in 2017, and it’s true- he was not good at all, but he will very likely be better in 2018, while Ellsbury will very likely be worse. Steamer projects Desmond to be 1.8 WAR better than he was in 2017, while projecting Ellsbury to be 1.3 WAR worse! Now, are there situations in which a Desmond trade could work? Perhaps, but I don’t see it happening with the Yankees. The Pittsburgh Pirates are down an outfielder after trading Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants, and Josh Harrison may represent a player that the Rockies would be interested in trading for, so I could see a speculative fit there. It was recently reaffirmed that Christian Yelich’s relationship with the Miami Marlins is now “irretrievably broken,” and I could see Desmond being a part of a speculative trade with the Fish. I’m getting deep into hypotheticals now, but with the Tampa Bay Rays rebuilding, I also wonder if Desmond could be a part of a package that nets the Rockies a return of Corey Dickerson. Any of these deals will likely feature more pieces than just Desmond, though, and the Rockies front office seems wary about parting with top-level talent, as they well should be. The biggest takeaway here for me: trading Desmond for a declining, overpaid player like Ellsbury would be very unwise. I personally want to see Desmond playing in a Rockies uniform in 2018, but there are some hypothetical situations in which the inclusion of Desmond in a trade would make sense. The key needs to be that this trade makes the Rockies better- a trade for Ellsbury does not make this team better. Rockies OF Mike Tauchman dishes on life in the minors and his life-changing 2017 | Mile High SportsSpeaking of the Rocki[...]

How a visiting broadcast team talked about baseball at altitude in 1993


The Rockies’ home park helped them beat the Marlins in July 1993, but altitude had nothing to do with it The Rockies will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2018. And that means that the entire baseball world will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of talking about baseball at altitude as if it exists in another dimension. Lately, and with the assistance of social media, “Coors” has become the shorthand to either dismiss accomplishments from Rockies players because of altitude or to ignore arguments about park effects in an attempt to pretend altitude doesn’t affect the game. It’s also become an ironic meme. However it’s used, “Coors” is less about a specific ballpark than it is about baseball at several thousand feet. Major-league baseball at altitude was a novelty in 1993. People paid to talk about baseball were still becoming familiar with it. They knew it was different, but we were only beginning to understand how different and how to respond to it. It took the Rockies nearly a decade before they installed a humidor. “Coors” existed before Coors, and it wasn’t always used as an argumentative shortcut. To get a small glimpse at “Coors” before Coors, I went to YouTube and watched the Rockies play the Marlins at Mile High Stadium on July 7, 1993. The feed is from the Sunshine Network. Jay Randolph had the play-by-play and Hall of Famer Gary Carter provided color commentary. Consider it a case study of one game and one broadcast booth at an early stage of Denver baseball. The situation The two expansion teams were decidedly uncompetitive when they met in July 1993. There were only two National League divisions then. The Rockies were in last place in the NL West with a 29-53 record. They were 26 games behind the first place Giants. The Marlins were able to stay out of the NL East cellar though. Their 36-46 record put them in sixth place in their division, ahead of the last place Mets but still 18 games behind the eventual pennant winners, the Philadelphia Phillies. Chris Hammond, who had a long but unremarkable career, started for the Marlins. The Rockies started reliever Keith Shepherd as part of a bullpen game. It was the only major-league start in Shepherd’s career. The position players were more memorable than the starters. Starting shortstop Walt Weiss was traded to the Marlins prior to their expansion season, and he played there for one season before signing as a free agent with the Rockies, where he played from 1994 to 1997. Weiss also served as the Rockies’ manager from 2013 to 2016. The Marlins also had one of the most feared hitters in the game, Gary Sheffield. The July 7th game was the 12th game Sheffield played for Florida. The team acquired him from San Diego during their 1993 fire sale. The Marlins sent Trevor Hoffman to San Diego in exchange for Sheffield. He was later part of the Marlins’ 1998 fire sale after they won the 1997 World Series. The Rockies lineup consisted of mainstays and passers by. Dante Bichette started in right field, Andres Galarraga—the Rockies’ lone All-Star in 1993—started at first base, and Vinny Castilla started at shortstop. Play-by-play man Jay Randolph called Castilla a “star of the future” at shortstop for the Rockies. (Close!) As for the rest of the lineup, if you can fill in more than two of the five remaining first names, you’re either old enough to remember 1993 or have spent too much time looking at old lineups on Baseball Reference: The park effect The Rockies played some wild and high scoring games at home in 1993, but this game wasn’t one of them. There were 11 runs scored (spoiler, the Rockies won 6-5) and three home runs total. According to Baseball Reference, there were 332 three-home run games in 1993. It was a typical baseball game by any standards of elevation. Still, there was a building view of baseball at altitude. While three home runs in a game isn’t very many, they did come in relatively quick succession in this game—from the second batter in [...]

Rockies prospect Sam Hilliard an intriguing bat


Hilliard ranks 17 in the pre-season 2018 PuRPs list 17. Sam Hilliard (371 points, 31 ballots) Sam Hilliard made one of the biggest jumps between the mid-season 2017 and pre-season 2018. The 23-year-old lefty outfielder is intriguing for a number of reasons. First of all, he was a two-way player at Wichita State, though the Rockies picked him as a hitter in the 15th round of the 2015 draft. Secondly, he’s a 6’5”, 220 player built like a small forward with plus speed and arm grades. Finally, though Hilliard has been a little old for his level at each minor league stop to date, he has consistently put up strong offensive numbers. In fact, Hilliard’s three minor league campaigns have produced 134, 128, and 126 wRC+ marks in order: his final line in 2017 with High-A Lancaster was .300/.360/.487 with 51 extra base hits and 37 steals (which was 3rd in the California League behind teammates Wes Rogers and Garrett Hampson) over 597 plate appearances. That’s good, though an elevated 25.8 K percent and a steadily lowering walk percentage over the last three years (14 to 11 to 8) give reason for pause. Here’s some video courtesy of Baseball Census: src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> Hilliard first came to my attention when Jon Sickels of Minor League Ball gave him some SLEEPER ALERT! love in his preseason 2016 Rockies prospect list. My favorite part was the Corey Dickerson comp Jon put on his bat potential. In terms of more recent scouting information, Hilliard is currently ranked 19th in the system by, grading out at 50 or better on every tool except a 45 for Hit: Hilliard’s left-handed raw power, speed and arm strength all grade as plus tools. His 6-foot-5 frame creates impressive leverage that he could utilize better by adding more loft to his swing. His extra-large frame comes with a naturally long swing, and he needs a more consistent approach after striking out in 30 percent of his plate appearances during his first two pro seasons. Hilliard is surprisingly fast for a big man and has 20-20 potential. He runs well enough to cover ground in center field but fits better on the corners. His arm, which provided 88-92 mph fastballs in college, works anywhere in the outfield. Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus saw Hilliard several times over the 2017 season and had this to say when BP ranked Hilliard among the top 20 in the system: Hilliard can be a tough nut to crack on first glance. He’s deceptively fast for a man built like a tight end, especially one with such an unassuming gait. He posted consistent plus times to first all year, however, while gliding into more catches you’d think off a slower start-up in center, too. He’s stretched up the middle, however, profiling best in right, where the former college pitcher’s arm rates an easy plus. The big question is how much he’ll hit; there’s plus raw power in the bag, but non-traditional hitting mechanics produce a long, lagging swing that lacks for impact bat speed. He shows a pronounced vulnerability to high, hard stuff, though he does manage to stay reasonably balanced and flick off-speed pitches that appear to have beaten him the opposite way. Hilliard certainly has his adherents among the scouting community and some decent offensive numbers to back up the high tool evaluations. That’s a big reason why I ranked Hilliard 24th on my personal ballot as an intriguing major league reserve player, one that could see the Show by the end of 2019. As stated above, Hilliard’s got some red flags in his offensive profile and has yet to face a tough offensive environment while being old for the level each time. He seems to be on track to get that opportunity next year with Double-A Hartford, which should be illuminating for the Rockies (who must decide whether to add him to the 40 man roster), fans, and prospect writers alike. [...]

What might the Rockies do with the remainder of the offseason?


Rockies news and links for January 17 Lunch Special: What’s your projected Rockies rotation for 2018? | Denver Post Once again, Patrick Saunders tackles fan questions about the Rockies. He takes a stab at the Andrew McCutchen trade, saying that while it will certainly assist the Giants next year, it probably won’t move them very far up in the division. The veteran bats are helpful, but they don’t make up for a team that doesn’t boast much athleticism. Next he moves into what the remainder of the offseason might hold for the Rockies. There’s still some time and some trade possibilities, but we’ll have to wait and see what their plans are. The only thing that seems pretty sure is that the bullpen is just about done. Saunders doesn’t anticipate another pitching adjustment, with Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee filling those spots. Saunders fields some questions about decisions surrounding Charlie Blackmon’s arbitration, the potential to resign Mark Reynolds, and a doubt that Carlos Gonzalez will return to Denver in 2018. One question I found interesting was the move toward Chris Iannetta. Our catching has been a bit of an issue lately, but Jonathan Lucroy was quite a catch (pun intended) last year. However, the Rockies were hoping to save a little money that they could apply to their bullpen, opting for Iannetta, who could actually be a huge asset for the Rockies. Then there are the usual questions, like who will provide the big bat for the Rockies, what will the outfield look like, and what will happen with the free agents of next offseason (namely DJ LeMahieu, and Charlie Blackmon) and after 2019 (Nolan Arenado)? As always, I love hearing Saunders’ takes on fan questions, as well as seeing what other Rockies fans are curious about this offseason. Colorado Rockies rumors: Bud Black alludes to possible moves coming | Rox Pile In a radio interview, Bud Black has hinted that we can maybe expect some more for the Rockies this offseason; however, it’s a big maybe that has given us all plenty of room to speculate. Perhaps it will be bringing back Mark Reynolds to free up Ian Desmond for the outfield. Or maybe it will be an entirely new outfielder like Lorenzo Cain. I think most of us are thinking (and hoping) that this supposed move will come on the offensive side of the game, as we have a bullpen to be proud of. Opening Day draws near, and I’m anxious to see what the Rockies do with the remainder of their offseason. Mark Reynolds wants to return to the Rockies -- at the right price | Denver Post Mark Reynolds has expressed interest in returning to the Rockies for another season. At this point in his career, the 34-year-old is looking for a solid deal that he can rely on. And he’s got some numbers on his side: 30 home runs, 97 RBIs, and a .267 batting average. Although his performance wasn’t exactly consistent throughout the season, the Rockies might be willing to bring him back, working at first base in conjunction with Ryan McMahon. Reynolds has expressly indicated his interest in coming back to the Rockies, where he feels like he could contribute to a team he hopes will do big things in 2018. Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has a big opportunity in 2018 | Purple Row Hayden Kane shares his thoughts on what the Rockies offense might look like in 2018. The offseason has been spent building up the bullpen, with not a lot of activity on the offensive side. Given that the majority of their budget has gone toward pitchers, Kane suggests that this provides an opportunity for current Rockies to step up and provide that boost we might need. David Dahl is getting a lot of attention, and we’re all ready to welcome him back after an injury-plagued 2017. But we can’t forget about Trevor Story. Story had a great season defensively, playing shortstop just about as well as we could ask him to. He struggled at the plate, striking out 191 times. If he were able to develop himself as a hitter, he would become that mu[...]

The 2018 Colorado Rockies: an indoctrinated dad’s perspective


How Daniel Tiger from PBS Kids can shed light on the upcoming season Hello, Purple Row readers! My name is Nick (yes, another one), and by now you may recognize me as one of the new Rockpile contributors. I hope I have filled some of your weekends with lively Rockies discussions and interesting content to chew on, debate, or feel the warm and fuzzies when you read it. I thought I might introduce myself here and provide some unique commentary on the upcoming season so we can get to know each other a little better. Consider this my Purple Row coming out party, and hopefully we’ll have some fun together in 2018. Like many of you, I’ve been a reader of Purple Row for years. There is always a high degree of professionalism, intelligence, and passion from its writers that has become anticipated by Colorado Rockies fans and unmatched by their peers. From in-depth prospect analysis and mic-drop Hall of Fame arguments, to seriously high-brow art criticism and straight-up awesome team coverage, readers have come to expect the best, unique Rockies coverage from Purple Row. Now, I’m hoping to find my niche and ask myself, “what do I have to offer?” Well, I’m a family man with a toddler who has become intimately aware of the gripping entertainment of children’s television. (I have to work with what I got.) I am going to break down some storylines for the 2018 season, in a language I have become an expert at, by using the following four songs and themes from my good friend and star of PBS—Daniel Tiger. His show teaches valuable morals, social skills, and emotional growth to kids ages 2 - 6... so it’s perfect for #RockiesTwitter. Let’s do this. Ugga mugga, Purple Row. 1. When you’re upset, you can find a way to feel better There’s no doubt about it, the 2017 season ended in disappointment for the Rockies and their fans. It was a thrilling roller-coaster ride, and we saw some of the best baseball played in the first half followed by a mediocre display in the second half. Contrary to most early projections, though, the Rockies got the job done and secured their first postseason trip in eight years. After a heartbreaking loss to the Diamondbacks in the Wild Card game, you were probably feeling a little sad, gloomy, or even mad. Let me start by saying, this is normal and you’re not alone—it can help to name these feelings so we can overcome them. It took me weeks—weeks—before I could talk about the 2017 season and not feel angry. The Rockies were only supposed to be on the cusp of competing for the postseason, but after such an incredible year, it was hard to not feel disappointed in how it ended. I was fully emotionally invested and left with the temperament of a two year old who wanted chocolate cake for dessert but got flan instead. It wasn’t until after the Astros won the World Series and the Winter Meetings began that I could start to remind myself: the Rockies made the playoffs before they were supposed to contend, we have freakin’ Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon on our team, prospects ready to contribute, and a great young pitching staff—things are looking up, and it’s okay to be happy and excited for what we’re about to see at 20th and Blake this year. Plus booze. Lots of crying, tears, and booze helps you feel better. (Daniel Tiger fails to mention that for some reason.) 2. Sometimes you feel two feelings at the same time, and that’s okay Speaking of feelings, they can be pretty confusing little buggers. Like the butterflies in your stomach when you catch a glimpse of the sparkle in David Dahl’s eyes as he slowly turns and smiles at you, when you’re not angry, just disappointed, that DJ LeMahieu grounded into a double-play, or confusion when Scott Oberg looked like one of the best bullpen arms on the team during the final month of the season in a critical playoff push. The point is, feelings can be hard enough on their own, but what happens when [...]

Rockies pitching prospect Breiling Eusebio an arm to watch in 2018


Eusebio ranks in at 18 on the pre-season PuRPs list 18. Breiling Eusebio (339 points, 28 ballots) Breiling Eusebio flew under the radar in a heralded 2013 Latin America signing class, but the $100,000 November signee is the only one of those players who made this list, and he’s the highest to debut on this edition of the PuRPs list. The 21-year-old lefty starter spent his first two years as a professional in the Dominican Summer League, posting a K/9 rate above 9 in both seasons and a 1.88 ERA in his second campaign there. Eusebio came stateside in 2016 with Short Season A Boise, where he was pitching against hitters who were on average 2.2 years older. In 631⁄3 innings over 13 starts, Eusebio had a 5.26 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, and 6.0 K/9 rate—nothing notable outside of his youth. Eusebio really only garnered national scout attention this season. He repeated in Boise in 2017 as a 20-year-old, where in three starts he struck out 22 in 17 innings, allowing 10 hits and three earned runs. That was enough for the Rockies to bump Eusebio up to full season ball. Eusebio made eight starts with Asheville, throwing 401⁄3 frames with a 4.46 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 6.9 K/9 rate against competition that was 1.9 years older on average. Again, the numbers aren’t remarkable but the context is quite positive. Unfortunately, Eusebio’s breakout season was cut short in mid-August by injury, calling into question which level he will start at in 2018. Here’s some video of Eusebio in Spring Training in 2017 courtesy of FanGraphs: src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> Kyle Glaser of Baseball America told the story of Eusebio’s breakout in Late July 2017, including some video of him in Asheville: The issue for Eusebio wasn’t stuff, or his control in the purest sense. The problem was his lively fastball had so much movement he had trouble ensuring it ended up over the plate, even if his delivery and release point were clean. This year, after extensive work in extended spring training, he’s figured it out. Eusebio ranged from 90-95 mph with his fastball in his latest outing and sat 93-94. At times his fastball went straight, at others it cut, and at others it ran. But in all cases, it was in the strike zone and miserable for hitters to try and get a read on. ... The other weapon Eusebio has developed is a dastardly changeup. Thrown consistently at 81-83 mph with identical arm speed as his fastball, the pitch drew foolish swings throughout from baffled Grasshoppers batters. Most importantly, it was consistent, another developmental step Eusebio has taken. ... His upper 70s breaking ball lacks bite and rarely finds the strike zone, and his fastball command is liable to come and go. As such, he has a 4.64 ERA and .282 opponent average with Asheville even after his latest outing. But the southpaw’s potential is evident. With as much improvement as he’s shown this season, it’s unlikely he remains under the radar for long. currently places Eusebio 23rd in the system: Eusebio has the best fastball/breaking ball combination of any left-handed starter in Colorado’s farm system. He deals at 91-95 mph with ground-ball-inducing sink on his heater and pairs it with a hard curveball. He also shows promising feel for his changeup. Eusebio has a compact delivery and repeats it easily. He’s making strides with his control but will need to refine his command to succeed against more advanced hitters. He projects as a possible No. 4 starter and perhaps more than that if his stuff continues to improve. Finally, Baseball Prospectus placed Eusebio among their top 20 Rockies prospects. Here’s Steve Givarz on Eusebio: Eusebio has progressed without much fanfare or notoriety until this past season. This season his heater spiked into the mid 90s, sitting i[...]

The Rockies will likely face a tough division again in 2018


Rockies news and links for January 16, 2018 The Rockies are primed to take the NL West by storm in 2018 | Mile High SportsIt’s not a definitive “The Rockies will win the NL West in 2018” statement, but Chris Bohn of Mile High Sports offers reasons to believe that the Rockies will do very well for themselves over the course of the upcoming season. The three keys listed are Bud Black, the bullpen, and Chris Iannetta. Of course, there is reason for skepticism about how much of an improvement there will be over the 2017 team. Greg Holland, Pat Neshek, and Jonathan Lucroy has essentially been replaced by Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Iannetta. While there seems to be a general agreement that the three newcomers do not make the team worse, it remains to be seen if the Rox will indeed have an improved roster over the one that lost the 2017 National League Wild Card Game to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Reasons for optimism are certainly evident though. Black worked well with a young pitching staff that is expected to improve upon its success as the growing pains of 2017 wear off. Since 2014, Davis has established himself as one of the best closers in the game of baseball and, in a vacuum, is probably an upgrade from Holland. Then there’s Iannetta, who was better than any Rockies backstop in 2017, including Lucroy by a full win. Iannetta has never had a 4+ fWAR season, something that Lucroy has done twice (2014 and 2016), so it would be unwise not to acknowledge that Lucroy has the higher ceiling of the two. However, if we are to look from a “what have you done for me lately” standpoint (as the business of baseball often does), Iannetta represents the superior option. And speaking of ceilings, we know that Iannetta’s ceiling is even higher than the 120 wRC+ he delivered in 2017, a number he bested in 2008 during his first tour of duty with the Rockies, and in 2014, with the Los Angeles Angels. Whether the Rockies have improved or not, the National League West remains a tough division. The Los Angeles Dodgers remain the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Diamondbacks underperformed their Pythagorean record last year, there’s no way that the San Francisco Giants will be as bad as they were in 2017, and the San Diego Padres haven’t necessarily gotten worse. It will be a tough National League West in 2018, but the Rockies seem prepared to face the challenge, a challenge perhaps even greater considering the following piece of news that broke on Monday… Giants reportedly trade for Andrew McCutchen | McCovey ChroniclesThe Giants swung a trade on Monday, acquiring outfielder Andrew McCutchen and cash considerations from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds, right-handed pitcher Kyle Crick, and $500K of international bonus pool money. McCutchen is in the final year of his contract, slated to earn $14.75 million in 2018. The Bucs will be picking up $2.5 million. McCutchen’s .279/.363/.486 slash will help improve a Giants outfield that left much to be desired in 2017. As a one year “rental,” however, the Giants will be tasked with finding an answer in the outfield for 2019 and beyond, though prospect Steven Duggar could be ready for an MLB spot by that time. Along with the addition of third baseman Evan Longoria, the Giants have gone from the worst team in the NL West to what I would view as the third-best team in a best-case scenario. That said, third place was enough for the Rockies to make the postseason in 2017, however. As stated earlier, the Giants were already highly unlikely to be as bad as they were in 2017, but the team has been making moves that would suggest they are aiming for contention once again in 2018. General Manager Bobby Evans must have realized that it’s an even year. While I would still say that the Rockies are a better team than the Giants, any improvement in the NL West is going to make things mor[...]

The Giants traded for Andrew McCutchen – What’s going on?


Are the Giants trying to win in 2018? Is it okay for Rockies fans to be happy about this? The San Francisco Giants have acquired Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. This trade seems odd — so what’s going on here? Are the Giants trying to contend? This shouldn’t seem likely, but if the Giants don’t believe they’re rebuilding, then they must think they’re contending. The Giants had 64-98 record in 2017, and no appeal to second or third order wining percentages said they were any better. Their pythagorean record was 67-95, and FanGraphs’ BaseRuns metric had them at 66-96. They earned every bit of their -137 run differential. And yet, the Giants already spent some of the little prospect capital they have to acquire Evan Longoria, so there were some signs that they weren’t going to throw in the towel before Spring Training. Now that they have McCutchen, their lineup doesn’t look so bad. Buster Posey will catch, and the rest of their infield consists of Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Longoria, and Brandon Crawford. That’s...good. McCutchen will join Hunter Pence in the outfield, although the third outfielder would need to be better than the Jarrets, Macs, and Stevens they trotted out in 2017. If they can work it in to their salary cap to sign Lorenzo Cain, the Giants all of the sudden would have a respectable lineup. Their pitching staff isn’t bad either, with Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija sitting at the top. It gets dicey behind those three, but that’s also not bad. McCutchen won’t make the Giants contenders, but it will make them better. They were already really unlikely to be near 100 losses again in 2017 simply because it’s damn hard to be in the 100 loss area without trying to be there. Combine those things, and the Giants could be really annoying this year. How does this affect the Rockies? In the short term, the NL West just got harder. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks looked to be tough competition in 2018, and now the Rockies need to worry about the Giants as well. In the long term, however, this could be the last gasp of a team that will soon be forced to rebuild. McCutchen will be a free agent after 2018. If the Giants look to be out of it come July, he could be trade bait to help San Francisco rebuild its barren farm system. At the very least, the pre-season trade means they can offer him a qualifying offer and get the benefit of some draft compensation. The Rockies are young and should be competitive for at least the next two seasons, whereas the Giants are old, and while they could be competitive in 2018, it’s harder to see it after that. Is it okay to be slightly happy about this? Andrew McCutchen is a joy to watch and there’s a chance Rockies fans will get to see him play 19 times this year as the Giants teeter on the edge of decline. So, yes, it’s okay to be happy. Welcome to the NL West, Cutch. Remember, the Giants “real” rival is the Dodgers, so mostly use that sweet swing of yours to torment them. [...]