Albuquerque’s elevation is actually 32 feet higher than Denver. So, yes, the ball flies there. Just ask any PCL pitcher and they’ll tell you. So a lot of those PCL pitchers gotta be happy with this development: the Dodgers have put in a humidor to moisten/deaden baseballs at Isotopes Park. From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
With the 2013 Pacific Coast League season set to launch Thursday when the Isotopes play host to the Iowa Cubs, it was an offseason decision by the parent Los Angeles Dodgers that will undoubtedly have the biggest impact on the season.
The humidor is intended to mute the effect dry air has on a baseball, which makes the ball feel harder and bounces off a bat with greater power.
That, in turn, leads to skewed numbers for hitters and pitchers alike.
I know geography and gate matter, so if you’re a west coast team it makes sense to have your farm teams out west too, and in places where fans will actually show up. But boy howdy it has to be hard to evaluate players in places like Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City and the like.
Adding this to the Coors Field humidor is a good step. But it’d be nice if all of the teams, majors and minors, who play at elevation would do this so we could at least attempt to get some sort of standardization of this stuff.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.