What the Rockies Lost in DJ LaMahieu and Adam Ottavino
DJ Lamahieu 2018 from the ground throwing out first base Photo Credit: The Denver Post
The Colorado Rockies made a playoff push last season by winning a Wild Card game against the Chicago Cubs in extra innings—only to be swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS. The Rockies Management was almost ready to play 2019 with the same roster, however DJ LaMahieu and Adam Ottavino had other ideas. The duo signed with the New York Yankees and are both having career years, leading the team to a 73-39 record and leading the team combined in Batting Average, Total Bases, RBIs, WAR, ERA and Holds.
The Rockies, this season, are dismal and have the National League’s lowest combined WAR at first and second base with a handful of players rotating and nobody standing out. The Rockies seemingly had a log jam of talent at second base with Brandon Rodgers, Garret Hampson and Ryan McMahon and they felt that they could let LaMahieu walk with talented backups. The team then decided to give 34-year-old Daniel Murphy the exact same contract the Yankees gave LaMahieu to come to Denver and start at first base. So far, Rodgers is injured, Murphy is having an okay year, and everyone else has been mediocre at best.
When watching any Rockies’ games this season, one would notice that the major weaknesses for this roster are pitching, starting, relief and closing, first base and second base play. LaMahieu is a three time All-Star, three time second base gold glove winner, and the 2016 NL batting champ that seemingly always had the clutch hit when he was with the Rockies. The team gambled on backups and are feeling serious regret, meanwhile LaMahieu got the money he deserved and is leading one of the best teams in the National League while having a career year offensively and defensively.
As for Ottavino, he’s leading the Yankees in a few pitching categories such as Holds and ERA and is providing consistency and reliability to the relief pitching staff. The Rockies pitching staff as a unit took a giant leap backwards this season and Ottavino’s departure certainly played a big part. The Rockies were expecting to have a strong starting rotation, the same core of relief pitchers minus Ottavino, and same closer in Wade Davis. With Ottavino’s departure being the only major move, the Rockies starting pitching is a mess, relief is not dependable, and the closer has had a major regression. Ottavino was a huge part of the team’s success last season, because having dependable relief pitchers allows the manager to pull the starters early and have faith the game won’t be over because of the move.
LaMahieu and Ottavino took the opportunity to go to a major baseball city, get the money they were rightfully due, and be major contributors on a possible World Series roster.One can’t fault the players—management needs to spend money to win, and the Rockies management has shown that they won’t spend the kind of money it takes to win in baseball. The Rockies took a risk by not paying their players, banking on the backups, and as a result, will most likely miss the playoffs this season. The word “contender” was being thrown around at the beginning of the year, missing the playoffs in 2019 will be a major disappointment.
Rockies need to win 66 percent of their remaining 51 games to get to 86 wins, and it seems like realistically somewhere above 90 wins will be the Wild Card team record. In the National League the Rockies have given up 25 more runs than the next worse team and 65 more runs than the third worst team, all while only scoring less than the Dodgers and Braves. The pitching needs to catch fire, and the bats need to get hot right now to have a playoff chance.