Over the next week I will preview the 2012 season for the Rockies position by position. There have been some fan favorites jettisoned from the team and some new faces (albeit longer in the tooth) who have jumped on board.
Today we talk second base.
Players lost: The Rockies had eight players see time at second base in 2011. Some of them, like Jordan Pacheco and Jose Morales, were well out of position, but other than that it is safe to say that the Rockies have been looking for someone to own second for a long time, longer than just last year. Mark Ellis, Jose Lopez and Alfredo Amezaga are no longer with the team.
Lopez was one of two disastrous signings by Dan O’Dowd last offseaon (the other being Ty Wigginton) and he was sent packing before the All-Star break. Lopez only received a minor league invite from the Cleveland Indians for 2012. Ellis was a sad attempt late in the season to add that so-called clubhouse veteran presence and he is in Los Angeles with the Dodgers for the next three seasons. Amezaga was another awful signing during the season last year and he signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs for ’12.
Players gained: One of the big acquisitions by O’Dowd this offseason was Marco Scutaro from the Boston Red Sox. Prior to Scutaro the Rockies traded Ian Stewart to the Chicago Cubs for Tyler Colvin and second baseman DJ LeMahieu.
According to baseball-reference.com Scutaro has been worth a total of four wins for the Red Sox the past two seasons. Prior to his time in Boston he was a four and a five win player in back-to-back seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. At the age of 36 the Rockies are hoping he can still perform close to the two win level. In each of the past five seasons he has posted an average to above average on-base percentage, which tickles my fancy. He doesn’t have any power to speak of but if he can play solid defense next to the best shortstop in baseball and get on base about 35% of the time he will be a solid addition for the Rox.
LeMahieu will figure to challenge for a bench spot against a few familiar names who have played second in recent years for the Rockies: Eric Young Jr, Jonathan Herrera and Chris Nelson.
Minor leagues: The Rockies do not have a lot of elite options at second base, in fact, all of their highly touted middle infield prospects all play shortstop – and there won’t be an opening at that position with the Rockies until 2022. However, only one guy from the list of LeMahieu, Young Jr., Herrera, Nelson and Hector Gomez will backup Scutaro this year which means the minors will be stocked with plenty of options to play second in the event a body is needed.
Who makes Opening Day roster: Along with Scutaro I believe Herrera will back him up. It has appeared in recent years that Jim Tracy favors Herrera and his ability to play multiple positions and willingness to sacrifice runners forward on the bases.
Who might come up during the year: Lots of options…Nelson, EY2, Gomez and probably a few other guys in the minors will be called up and shipped down a few times during the year. Someone is bound to hit the 15-day DL and the Rockies will need a warm body to sit on the bench.
Next up: Third base