Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Matt Reynolds Trade Thoughts & Links

Regardless of size or significance, every single trade a team makes in this social media and blog driven world is met with reactions (often overreactions).

Here's mine to the trade Colorado Rockies made on Tuesday, which sent left-hander reliever Matt Reynolds to the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 24-year-old corner IF/OF Ryan Wheeler.


I always liked Matt Reynolds for his durability, versatility and the fact he attended the same high school as my cousins in St. Charles, IL. I also realize the importance of left-hander relievers, but he's totally replaceable, just as most bullpens arms are. Not that the Rockies have or will acquire upgrades, but there's a better chance of stumbling in production in middle relief (see Josh Roenicke and Adam Ottavino) than any other position.

That said, I'm not so sure we're getting a meaningful piece back here in Ryan Wheeler. It's a little frustrating, too, because it seems like Reynolds would have been more valuable in a package for something a little more significant. This one has the feel of the typical Rockies trade that doesn't maximize the value of the talent involved and ultimately turns into a throwaway, but it will certainly take time to figure that out for sure.

In the meantime, here's a little taste of the Diamondbacks perspective on Wheeler courtesy of the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro:

The Diamondbacks likely were willing to trade Wheeler in large part because of his perceived defensive shortcomings. Scouts have had concerns about the big-bodied Wheeler’s mobility at third base for years now, and Wheeler has worked hard to try to become more agile. 

But defense and athleticism seem to be turning into an enormous factors in most Diamondbacks acquisitions lately, so it’s not a big surprise that they don’t view Wheeler as their archetypal third baseman. 

The other question with him is whether he’ll be able to hit for enough power in the majors; he’s more of a natural opposite-field hitter, and the Diamondbacks’ coaches were working with him this season on pulling the ball more regularly, driving it with more authority. 

He’s headed to the best hitter’s ballpark in baseball, so we’ll see if he’ll be able to hit enough to make up for whatever defensive shortcomings may exist. 

The other thing is, he has a tremendous work ethic and makeup, so there’s little question he’ll put in the time and effort to improve.

It sounds like there's some work to do here on both sides of the field, but based on that information I'm going to guess the Rockies will give Wheeler a long look at first base this spring.


Speaking of trades, Chris Jaffe over at the Hardball Times posted a couple recent historical items on the Rockies, including the Mike Hampton-Juan Pierre deal from 2002.

10th anniversary of a big Marlins-Rockies trade

He also has a post up discussing the expansion draft from 20 years ago.
Good stuff, as always, from Mr. Jaffe and his crew. 

I also came across a year old interview with Dante Bichette's wife, Mariana, where she discusses her role as a baseball wife and mom.

Mariana Bichette Interview: Meet a Real Life Baseball Mom and Wife

More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Celebrating The Hire Of Dante Bichette

Dante Bichette was my favorite player growing up. There really wasn't a close second, though Vinny Castilla would have been the choice until Todd Helton came along. 

With that out of the way, I've obviously been hoping for many years that Dante would be back in the Rockies fold in some capacity before all was said and done. That it's happening now as the hitting coach is really very exciting.

Forgot the fact that this coaching staff could be in place for just one season — that won't be the case because they will inevitably improve with better health, and ownership will be convinced things are headed in the right direction regardless of the truth — I'm just happy to have a guy in place who truly understands the unique situation he's walking into, and can draw on past experiences to aid his teaching.

But as I mentioned on Twitter after the announcement was made...
Don Baylor had experience at Coors Field, too, and seemed to struggle putting gameplans together for Rockies hitters. What that means, if anything, I honestly don't know, but he's done at least a decent job in Arizona and obviously knows hitting, The sure difference, though, is with Bichette you have a guy who has stood in that batter's box at Coors Field hundreds of times, has made his own adjustments on the road, and has his own feel for the proper mental approach.

That's a positive step up.

Despite some really ugly swings when his best guess was wrong, Bichette also had great instincts.

But Bichette's greatest quality was that he never gave away an at-bats, especially with two strikes. Bichette, for my money, is the best two strike hitter in last 20 years. As great as Helton is in the same situation I'm not sure he ever surpassed Bichette. I don't care how wrong that is, either, because it's money.

But the reason Bichette and Helton excel with two strikes is because they value each and every opportunity they get. They make the adjustments they need to on the fly just to prolong an at-bat and maybe capitalize on a mistake. That really is and was the art and beauty of their game. Now, when you hear and read scouting reports for Dante Jr. and even Beau Bichette, you know it's either in the genes or Senior is really good at getting his message across.

Bottom line, under Bichette, there will be no excuses on offense. He will have them prepared as best he can. He'll send the right messages. You can bet he's going to have them watching a lot of video. And it wouldn't surprise me if their first assignment at spring training is reading The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams.(Dante read that book countless times throughout his career.)  It will be up to the players to listen, learn, adjust when necessary and execute.

Now we just need to find a pitching coach/director/instructor/whatever that can boast the same experience and success from the pitching side of things. Sadly, that guy isn't out there, but I'm feeling really good about the lineup.

Oh, and let's also trade for Dante Bichette Jr. just to cover all the bases here.


More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Few Thoughts On The Walt Weiss Hire

I have a few thoughts already posted over at Big League Stew. You can check those out right here.

My additional thoughts on Walt Weiss being named the sixth manager in Rockies history are as follows.

Walt Weiss:
I think that sums it up pretty well actually. I have nothing but respect for Walt Weiss from a baseball perspective and as a man, but he's walking into a situation that would challenge even the most savvy and experienced manager.

Unless the Rockies manage to get their young pitching talent on track over the winter, he's not going to be set up for success in the short-term, and the sad thing might end up being that Weiss is actually really good at the whole managing thing, but we never really realize it because the circumstances around him and the people looking over his shoulder hold him back.

That's a real possibility that has concerned me, still does concern me, and would have continued to concern me unless the Rockies opened their doors and offered the job to a serious outside candidate. Matt Williams got a lot closer than I honestly thought anyone would, so they could be encouraging, but it's still way too early to tell how involved the front office will be, just as it's too early to have any real meaningful opinion on Weiss.

But I will add that I feel confident Weiss won't be completely overwhelmed thanks to his past playing experience at Coors Field and his time spent in the Rockies front office. I'm also certain he'll hold himself accountable for his shortcomings and mistakes, which will be a nice chance of pace after three plus years of Jim Tracy making excuses and throwing players under the bus.

The Process: I can honestly say that of the candidates interviewed, Weiss would be the guy I'd have the most confidence in to lead the franchise back to... well... something other than an embarrassment. Again, no problem with him at all, but the process itself left a lot to be desired.

The Rockies never spoke to Sandy Alomar Jr., Brad Ausmus or Vinny Castilla, three guys I would have felt a lot more confident in than any of the candidates interviewed. But that's just me. Obviously I'm not on the inside, I don't know how those guys are viewed with in the Rockies inner circle, and I don't truly know if those guys will be decent big league managers, but it's disappointing none of them were given a chance or even a first thought.

From my perspective, it's almot like the Rockies went out of their way to interview guys that were never really in contention. Guys like Jerry Manuel (he's awful), Pete Mackanin and Tom Runnels to water down the field. And then at the end of the day they look pretty good going with the man that stood out to everyone as the obvious choice.

That could be over analyzing the situation, and I'm not saying Weiss is the wrong choice by any means, but I'm definitely going to reserve praise based on how I viewed the process. I'd be a lot more excited and encouraged had they given one or two of those names I mentioned an interview just to get a feel for their styles. If Weiss still stood out to them, great, but I can't help feel like they missed out on a candidate with higher upside.

End Of The Day: It's over. We have a new manager. His name is Walt Weiss. Despite my lack of satisfaction in the process, I'm pulling like hell for him to help get this franchise pointed in the right direction. And who knows, under the circumstances, he may just be the perfect fit.

More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton

Monday, November 5, 2012

Can Bud Adams Own The Rockies? Please?

Here's what Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams (age 89) had to say after his squad lost an embarrassing 51-20 decision to the Chicago Bears on their home field Sunday afternoon, dropping their season record to 3-6.

From the Tennessean:

“In my 50 years of owning an NFL franchise, I am at a loss to recall a regular-season home game that was such a disappointment for myself and fans of the Titans,’’ Adams told The Tennessean. “We were grossly outcoached and outplayed from start to finish today." 

 “At this time, all aspects of the organization will be closely evaluated, including front office, coaches and players, over the next seven games. If performance and competitiveness does not improve, I will look at all alternatives to get back to having the Titans become a playoff and championship football team.

A professional sports owner threatening to hold his players, his coaches, his front office, and basically everyone under his employ accountable for their performance? What the hell is this guy trying to do over there in Nashville? Win something?

And what's with the not making excuses here? This just doesn't fall in line with what I'm conditioned to hearing. There had to be a stiff wind in the Titans face the entire game, or maybe the football itself inexplicably felt different in their hands, causing them to turn it over five times. It had to be something beyond their control.

* * *

Meanwhile, in baseball news, the Colorado Rockies could announce a new manager this week.

If/when they do it will be one of four men: Tom Runnels, Jason Giambi, Walt Weiss or Matt Williams. Williams is the one with no previous connection to the Rockies, so unless the Monforts put him under some type of spell I doubt he'll be the guy. Runnels seems have to received the interview because he's well liked within the organization and the Monforts didn't want to spend another chunk of money flying in and entertaining someone worthwhile. I doubt he's in.

So that leaves Giambi and Weiss, and at this point who cares because there's no anger at the top, no shame felt in being the laughing stock of the National League, no accountability at any level in the organization, no direction with which to head, and no passion to be a winner.

If I offended Dick Monfort by saying that, I don't apologize.

Go talk to Bud Adams. Grow a set. Or just go away. Your choice.

More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton