The upcoming road trip to Colorado features two teams that are hitting the ball extremely well. FanSided sites Around the Foghorn and the Rox Pile decided to swap Q&A’s to find out what the other team has been up to. Please visit the Rox Pile for AtF’s answers to their questions. A very big thank you to Kevin Henry, Editor of the Rox Pile, for participating.
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Here is our Q&A with the Rox Pile:
Following the Rockies, you must be use to higher ERA’s from the pitching staff, and a team built for hitting. Have there been instances in the recent past where a pitcher has decided not to sign there for fear of inflated numbers? Have there been hitters who have signed there and said it was specifically because of the park?
No pitchers have specifically come out and said they haven’t signed with Colorado because of the altitude, but it’s certainly been whispered about for quite some time that it makes it harder to sign a free agent who is worried about his ERA becoming inflated. Bob Gebhard, who was Colorado’s first-ever general manager, even said in a recent Denver Post article that the altitude makes it tough to sign free agents.
One of the things that the Rockies did in the off-season is actually raise the fences in the outfield at Coors Field during the off-season. Now, the outfield fence between right field and center field is nearly 9 feet higher, to a total of 16 feet, 6 inches. The fence down the left-field line is higher by 5 feet, to a total of 13 feet. It’s an effort to try to keep some shots that were homers in previous seasons in the park. The Rockies are hoping it will keep around 10 to 12 balls in the park that would’ve gone out in previous seasons.
One of the themes early in the season has been for Colorado coaches and players to remind us all that the altitude can be an advantage and is the thing that makes Coors Field unique, just like the ivy at Wrigley or the Green Monster at Fenway. San Diego certainly felt at home at Coors, scoring 29 runs in the first two games after being shut out in the season-opening series against the Dodgers. Colorado hit five homers in Sunday’s win that kept the Padres from sweeping the series. Trust me, the ball still flies out of Coors Field, higher fences or not.
Regarding the hitters, I would say that’s one of the big reasons why Mark Reynolds is now a part of the team. The veteran first baseman entered the season with a 28 percent strikeout rate so his early-season whiffs shouldn’t be a surprise. However, some were salivating about Reynolds’ potential for power when he was signed to a one-year, $2.6 million contract in December. He had a 44-homer year in 2009 … but he hasn’t hit over .230 since 2009, and hasn’t had a slugging percentage over .400 since 2012. So far this season, he’s hitting .125.
Which player was a surprise to make the team out of spring training this year?
I’ll go with Tony Wolters. Colorado had a couple of catchers who contributed last season in Dustin Garneau and Tom Murphy, but Wolters surprised everyone with a great spring training and left camp as the Rockies’ backup catcher behind Nick Hundley.
Wolters had never played above Double-A before this season and was claimed off waivers from the Indians in the offseason, but brings versatility to the Rockies as he can play both catcher and middle infield. He got his first MLB hit in a Sunday start against the Padres and helped Chad Bettis through a pitching performance the Rockies really needed in the series finale. He’s 23 and has a pretty bright future ahead of him.
What is the latest on Jose Reyes?
It’s a frustrating holding pattern. He’s currently being paid his salary while MLB decides what his punishment will be, if anything. Speaking of his salary, he was paid more by the Rockies in the first four games than Trevor Story will make all season. Go figure.
Until MLB decides its punishment, the Rockies can’t do anything but wait. When that comes down (which is expected to be soon), then the Rockies can decide what they’re going to do with him. It’s really the elephant in the room right now that no one wants to talk about. Story has been such a great (pardon the pun) story in the early part of the campaign and earned the shortstop role in spring training. When and if Reyes comes back, he’ll be relegated to a bench role. He’s already said (shortly after being traded to Colorado from Toronto in the Troy Tulowitzki deal) that he doesn’t want to be here. Combine that with the bad PR coming from the alleged incident in Hawaii and you’ve got the possibility of a really sour situation coming up.
Nobody is likely to be the next Trevor Story. But who is the next minor league prospect to look for?
I think Jeff Hoffman, a pitcher who also came over in the Tulowitzki deal from Toronto, is a guy that the Rockies are looking at to really help their pitching situation within the next year. He was a first-round pick in 2014 and has recovered from Tommy John surgery. He’s a fastball pitcher who gets strikeouts and his other pitches are coming along as well as he develops. He’s just 23 so he has a lot of years ahead of him and the Rockies are counting on him to be a part of their future.
Aside from the obvious (Trevor Story) what is the biggest surprise so far this young season?
I’ll go back to the Tulowitzki deal and another guy who came over in that trade – Miguel Castro. He has been the bright spot in what has been a brutal six games for the Colorado bullpen thus far. In four innings, he’s allowed just one hit and struck out seven. The 21-year-old right-hander was a question mark coming into spring training if he would make the roster or not, but he has delivered big time. He’s really the one guy that the Rockies have been able to count on early on in the season out of the bullpen.
It is likely to be a high scoring series, and with the thin air, combined with the hot bats coming into the series, not even the raised fences will keep the ball in Coors Field.