The Yankees adopted an interesting offseason strategy in 2019. In many ways, it appears their game plan revolved around acquiring as many former Rockies as possible. In a little less than three weeks, the Bombers brought Troy Tulowitzki, DJ LeMahieu, and Adam Ottavino into the fold.
To get a better sense of perspective on these moves, we asked our friends at Purple Row to talk about them. Eric Garcia McKinley was kind enough to join us for some banter, and most importantly, to share his Rockies insights with our Yankees community.
How should Yankees fans feel about the team’s strategy of signing all the former Rockies?
Considering the Yankees are signing the good ones, you should feel pretty good. It’s worthwhile to make a distinction among the three though. DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino were essential components of the Rockies’ last two trips to the postseason. Troy Tulowitzki, while an all-time member of the Rockies, hasn’t been on the club since 2015. And, if I’m a Yankees fan, I honestly would be more excited about LeMahieu and Ottavino while hoping Tulo accepts a primary DH role to protect his legs from injury.
What should the Yankees look forward to with each of the three?
Let’s start with DJ. Look forward to him using all of his 6-4 body to make plays at second base. He’s had pretty different seasons on offense, but his defense has been rock solid during his entire Rockies’ career. At the plate, LeMahieu is best when he’s hitting line drives to the gaps. That powered his .495 slugging percentage in 2016, despite hitting just 11 home runs. And I would hope for his walk rate to creep back up.
For Ottavino, look forward to each and every pitch. Seriously, just take a look at Rob Friedman’s Ottavino clips. Every slider is a morsel of goodness.
If history is any indication, the thing to look forward to with Tulo is disappointment because of a DL stint.
Are Rockies fans going to root for the Yankees as their AL team now?
Probably not, but they will likely be paying more attention to the Yankees. I know I will be. I’m really interested in seeing where Tulo ends up playing, how Aaron Boone uses LeMahieu, and just how Ottavino is going to fit in to the Yankees bullpen. I hear they have some pretty good arms already!
Can we have Nolan Arenado?
No, you may not.
We’ll settle for Dinger.
Some of us even have a weird attachment to Dinger, so that’s also a no.
What are your favorite memories from each of Tulo, LeMahieu, and Ottavino?
Maybe not my favorite, but my most interesting memory with LeMahieu is his 2012 competition with Josh Rutledge for the second base job. In my mind, it was simply a question of going for the better glove (LeMahieu) or the better bat (Rutledge). Also in my mind, it was pretty clear that the Rockies should just go for the better bat. They split time at second base in 2012, but LeMahieu had clearly won the job in 2013. He then went on to win three Gold Glove awards, a batting title, and claimed the mantle of best second baseman in team history.
Ottavino has had his fair amount of struggles in Colorado, and 2018 was easily his best season. It also had one of those fun runs of invincibility. He didn’t allow a run until his ninth appearance, had an ERA of 0.47 after his first 18 appearances, and struck out 35 batters in his first 19 innings. Things normalized, as they always do, but that was fun.
As for Tulo, there’s just too many to name, and they’re all part of a more distant part of Rockies history, from the unassisted triple play in his rookie season to him sitting in the dugout in Wrigley Field having just found out he was traded. In between those, one memory that sticks out is from May 25, 2013. The Rockies and Giants were tied up at four in extra innings. In the top of the tenth, Tulo hit a solo home run to left field to give the Rockies a lead. On his way to first base, he pointed and celebrated along with the Rockies’ dugout. It was a great moment of team unity and leadership from the Rockies’ best player. If only the game ended well though. Angel Pagan hit a two-run inside the park home run to give the Giants the win in the bottom of the tenth. It was much like Tulo’s career in Colorado, starting with excessive joy and ending with disappointment.