Rockies confident in young catchers
When the offseason began, I thought the Rockies would be shopping for a veteran catcher, a la Nick Hundley or Yorvit Torrealba back in the day. However, everything I’m hearing from general manager Jeff Bridich and new manager Bud Black tells me the Rockies are confident in the baby-faced tandem of Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy, both rookies in 2016.
“Talking to our guys, they are high on Murphy and Wolters,” Black said. “High on their makeup, their aptitude, their work ethic, what they believe in, what they need to do to help our pitchers.
“They are young, no doubt about it. But (catching coach/bench coach Mike Redmond) and I, and our pitching coaches, we’ll give them everything we can to make them the players they can be.”
That doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Rockies signing a veteran to come into spring training, but bringing in a catcher is not a high priority right now. In fact, the Rockies could be looking at a platoon system behind the plate in 2017.
Murphy still needs work behind the plate, but he can mash from the right side. In 21 games after getting called up from Triple-A Albuquerque in September, the right-handedhitting Murphy hit .273 (12-for-44) with five homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.006 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Lefty-hitting Wolters was ineffective at the plate in the first half of the season, batting .215 with a .296 onbase percentage. After the all-star break he hit .321 with a .374 OBP. And, almost to a man, the pitchers raved about Wolters’ game-calling and his receiving skills behind the plate.
Wolters, the converted infielder who’s generously listed at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, is not big for a catcher. He ended up playing in 71 games for Colorado, but could he handle the load of playing 100-plus game as the primary catcher?
“I can handle it. Yes, I’m light and that’s a good thing,” he told me on the final day of the season. “I haven’t felt this good since 2012 before I started having knee problems. My (left) knee feels really good. Mentally, yeah, I’m a little bit tired, but physically I’m in a really good spot. I honestly believe I could catch 110 games in a season.”
Jorge De La Rosa, the winningest pitcher in franchise history, is a free agent now and has told teams he’s willing to be a multi-inning reliever. But don’t expect the Rockies to try to re-sign the 35-year-old left-hander.
Tuesday evening, I asked Bridich if the Rockies have said goodbye to De La Rosa.
“I hate to completely shut that door,” he said, but then added that De La Rosa is not part of the club’s plan right now.
Lefty Boone Logan, now a free agent after three uneven seasons in Colorado, is being considered by several teams. Bridich said he has been in contact with Logan since the end of the season but did not indicate that the Rockies are attempting to re-sign him. … Carlos Gonzalez will play for Venezuela in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, but Bridich isn’t sure if the club will allow Gonzalez to compete in winter ball as a tuneup for the World Baseball Classic.
Rockies catcher Tony Wolters tags out the Chicago Cubs’ Jorge Soler at the plate at Wrigley Field last season. Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images file photo