Let me summarize the 2011 season for the Colorado Rockies: disappointing, horrendous, embarrassing, laughable and Troy Tulowitzki is by far the best shortstop in baseball.
Some of the issues with the Rockies last year was out of their control; Jorge De La Rosa’s injury early in the season. A major part of the Rockies losing last year came in the form of underperforming players who were supposed to be key contributors; Ian Stewart and Ubaldo Jimenez. There were bad moves by upper management; Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez. Finally there was the mis-management of personnel by Jim Tracy; Dexter Fowler, Seth Smith, Eric Young Jr. and to an extent Stewart.
I think what most fans want and what this team needs is a big shakeup. Mix things up a bit. Get some new blood into town and see what happens. What they tired the past few seasons didn’t work. It is very early in the offseason and not all players are free agents who might become free agents but there is some concern that the Rockies might end up running out a very similar roster in 2012 compared to 2011.
In this piece the news is that the Rockies are bringing back Jason Giambi for one more season and declined the option on Aaron Cook.
Jason Giambi produced very nicely at the plate in his role last year and he would make a really good DH in the American League. I, however, believe that the Rockies need to part ways. It is time to get on with the youth movement and using a bench spot for a guy as limited defensively as Giambi is a waste of a roster spot. If the team is so intent on moving up Wilin Rosario then they should move Chris Iannetta to first base to spell Todd Helton (who was one of the brightest performers for the Rox in ’11).
As for Cook, good riddance. I think most all Rockies fans are in the same boat: thanks for what you did for this team for many years, Cook, but it is time to part ways. Unfortunately Troy Renck believes the door is slightly open for Cook to return to the Rockies.
As for guys like Stewart and Ryan Spilborghs who were both just awful for the Rockies in 2011 they are both arbitration eligible. This means that the Rockies can offer them a single season contract at whatever rate they choose as long as it is not lower than league minimum. If Spilly or Stewart think the deal is fair they can accept and sign away. Or they can counter offer and the two sides would negotiate and if no deal is agreed upon they would meet with an arbitrator sometime in January to settle the difference. I wouldn’t offer either of them very much.
Dick Monfort still thinks Stew can be the answer to the Rockies third base question. I have my doubts. As I have written in the past I do not think Stewart is very motivated. His recent tweets about vacations to Mexico do not give the impression he is spending time in the gym and working his ARSE off to get better. Now, he might very well be doing just that – spending countless hours in the gym working on his craft to get better – but when following most athletes on Twitter you will get a hint of that via pictures they send from the ball field or gym but I do not see those kinds of tweets from Stewart. Rather, he talks about Mexico (snorkeling, his house in Mexico, or his flight in). I might have missed a tweet about a gym or a batting cage but I went back quite a ways and couldn’t find one.
The third basemen who finished the year with the Rockies, Kevin Kouzmanoff, is gone. He is a free agent and hopefully the Rockies do not sign him. Along with Matt Daley, Jose Morales and Kouzmanoff are free agents.
Without Spilly in the outfield and we all know (well, all of us except Tracy and Co.) that EY2 is not an outfielder. To me this would mean giving Smith rights to the third outfield spot next year. Fowler gets center field and Carlos Gonzalez can play wherever he chooses, I don’t care as long as he is in the outfield. For some reason the Rockies do not like Smith. .284/.347/.483 is not great but he is consistent. Outfield talent is actually fairly thin around the league and I am not sure the Rockies can do better. In Armstrong’s piece there is mention that the Rockies are interested in Minnesota Twins outfield Michael Cuddyer. He apparently is a big upgrade over Smith and would hit fifth behind Tulo in the Rockies order. Cuddyer hit .284/.346/.459 (or essentially EXACTLY the same as Smith) last season. I am at a loss.
As we continue to bounce around the Rockies diamond we find that the Rockies are saying they will start Iannetta behind the plate in 2012. Thank heavens. All Iannetta did was put up one of the better offensive performances from a catcher in 2011.
Now we land on second base where the debacle began when management actually though Lopez was a good free agent signing. That experiment ended after about a month’s worth of brutal play from Lopez. Then the team tried Jonathan Herrera, Chris Nelson, Ty Wigginton and many other warm bodies at second base. The straw that broke this camel’s back came when the team though that signing Mark Ellis was a good idea. How many old retreads will Dan O’Dowd sign who have clearly been on the decline and continue that decline with the Rockies? And Ellis might be back in 2012?! Just another sign that things are not going to be mixed up too much around the Rockies locker room next year. Ellis’ best year was in 2005 when he batted .316/.384./477 and he has never really been close to those numbers since. At the age of 35 the Rockies think he is the solution at second?
To summarize: the Rockies are keeping Giambi and slightly open to keeping Cook and Kouzmanoff. The team isn’t ready to part ways with Stewart and Spilborghs and guys who actually performed OK might get the boot or at the very least bench time (Smith). There are names the team is after to make a big splash like David Wright but the past has shown that this team doesn’t invest in veterans like Wright. And somehow they think Ellis is still a good option at second base.
I have almost resigned to the realization that the Rockies will start 2012 with this roster on the field: Jhoulsy Chacin (1), Iannetta (2), Helton (3), Ellis (4), Stewart (5), Tulo (6), Smith (7), Fowler (8) and CarGo (9). Does that look familiar?
We might see a mix up in left field and third base otherwise I am betting this is the Opening Day lineup for the 2012 Colorado Rockies. With Tracy still making the (bonehead)decisions this team is doomed to repeat its sub .500 performance from 2011.