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Underrated offseason moves could set Rockies up for success

David Martin Avatar
March 19, 2015

The Colorado Rockies as a franchise are known for one thing; playing at altitude.

Those outside the Mile High City view Coors Field as a great place to hit, but a terrible place to pitch. For years, the Rockies have been built to suit that environment. With the exception of a handful of pitchers, the Rockies model was always to try and outslug their opponents.

There have been a few years in which the Rockies were able to buck the trend of terrible pitching. Not unexpectedly, in the years when the club was able to pitch against the odds, the team either made the playoffs, like in 2007 and 2009, or were in the race late in the season, like 2010.

Rockies fans complained in the offseason that, once again, the team spent the entire winter doing nothing to improve a team that lost more than 90 games in the past two seasons.

There is no denying that the Rockies model rarely has them as headline-makers in the offseason. Quiet offseasons are something Rockies fans have become accustom to. However, the Rockies made a couple of small decisions that might make a huge difference.

It might not seem like much, but the Rockies addressed the elephant in the room when it came to their catching issue. Wilin Rosario, a prized prospect with a bat that has All-Star potential, was still developing as a catcher. That is what the team would call it anyway.

Despite passed ball after passed ball, despite terrible catching mechanics that typically included Rosario stabbing and back-handing balls in the dirt, the young catcher continued to be the No. 1 guy behind the plate. Even when the defensive woes were clearly effecting his offensive game, Rosario was given the benefit of the doubt.

Jeff Bridich, the new Rockies general manager, acknowledged what everyone already saw with his signing of Nick Hundley, a somewhat journeyman catcher who isn’t necessarily a great catcher, but brings a significant amount of enthusiasm to the game. With Hundley in the fold, and Michael McKenry getting a good amount of innings so far in spring training, it seems that the Rockies are moving forward with their plans to have Rosario behind the plate less often.

With all due respect to Rosario, getting the slugger out from behind the plate might not be good for the position that he is moved to, like first base, or even scarier, the outfield. However, the move to get him out of the gear is addition by subtraction.

The worst thing a young pitching staff can have is a catcher who they can’t trust. With Rosario, pitchers like Tyler Matzek, Christian Bergman, Rex Brothers, Jordan Lyles and so many more simply can’t feel confident spinning a slider into the dirt and not worrying about the baserunners taking the next base when the ball skips to the backstop.

Rosario also struggled to frame pitches, losing many costly calls that changed the course of an at-bat. His mechanics behind the plate simply aren’t Major League quality.

With the Rockies leaning so heavily on their young pitchers, they simply cannot afford to have a catcher who not only can’t help them on the mound, but in fact hurts the pitchers games.

No one is saying that the Rockies are going to go to the playoffs. No one is saying that the Rockies are going to contend. However, taking small steps to improve the catching on the defensive side is the best move the Rockies could have made.

If the Rockies young pitchers improve significantly in 2015 they deserve the credit. However, a tip of the cap will also have to go to both the Rockies front office and to Hundley and McKenry for helping them take the next step.


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