Overcrowding in outfield

March 7, 2009 | 3:52 am | 10  

The Rockies don’t have any extra space for extra men. Manager Clint Hurdle and his staff are going to be challenged in settling on the final two roster spots. Somebody is going to have hurt feelings.

Accept the assumptions:

  • The Rockies will go with 12 pitchers and 13 position players.
  • They will keep two catchers: Chris Iannetta and Yorvit Torrealba.
  • They will keep six infielders: 1B Todd Helton, 2B Clint Barmes, 3B Garrett Atkins, SS Troy Tulowitzki and backups Omar Quintanilla and Jeff Baker.
  • They will keep five outfielders, only two of which are set: Ryan Spilborghs, who figures to start in center field, and Brad Hawpe, who will start in right field.

Those last three outfield spots are the challenge. Give Seth Smith, a left-handed hitter, an early edge for the starting spot in left field.

That leaves two backup spots for six players:

  • Ian Stewart is the third baseman of the future but has the athleticism to play the outfield. He has an option remaining so the Rockies can send him to the minors without risking losing him to another team.
    Pro: A left-handed power bat, he could force his way into the picture because he also can play third base on days Garrett Atkins gives Todd Helton a rest at first.
    Con: Jeff Baker, who health permitting will be a backup infielder, also is a third baseman by trade, and he provides a right-handed bat. Face it, when Helton rests it will most likely be against a left-handed pitcher.
  • Carlos Gonzalez came from Oakland as part of the package for Matt Holliday. He has an option remaining so the Rockies can send him to the minors without risking losing him to another team.
    Pro: Primarily a corner outfielder, Gonzalez also has shown an ability to play center field and could be a left-handed-hitting alternative to Spilborghs. He has potential power and base-stealing ability.
    Con: He is still developing as a hitter. He hit .242 in 85 games with Oakland last year and struck out 81 times in 302 at-bats.
  • Scott Podsednik made the team out of spring training a year ago as a non-roster invitee, same role he is in this year. Podsednik is signed to a minor-league deal but has the right to opt out if he doesn’t make the big-league team.
    Pro: He is the one base-stealing threat on the roster, and a left-handed alternative to Spilborghs in center. A veteran, Podsednik showed an ability to adjust to part-time duty last year.
    Con: The power isn’t there to play the corners, and arm strength is minimal.
  • Matt Murton, acquired from Oakland in trade for infield prospect Corey Wimberly. Murton has an option remaining so the Rockies can send him to the minors without risking losing him to another team.
    Pro: A right-handed hitter, Murton would provide a right-handed alternative to the left-handed bats of Hawpe in right and Smith in left.
    Con: After showing signs in three partial seasons with the Cubs, Murton got lost in the shuffle last year, playing only 19 big-league games between the Cubs and A’s.
  • Dexter Fowler, switch-hitter and top prospect in system. Has option remaining so the Rockies can send him to the minors without risking losing him to another team.
    Pro: Best defensive outfield on team, glides after balls in gaps and has a plus arm. Great speed potential.
    Con: Experience. There’s nothing wrong with Fowler that playing time won’t cure. He hasn’t played at the Triple-A level yet.
  • Dan Ortmeier, switch-hitting again this spring after hitting solely right-handed last year. Signed to minor-league contract and does not have ability to decline assignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
    Pro: Experienced big-leaguer who can play corner outfield positions and give Rockies a right-handed-hitting backup to Todd Helton at first.
    Con: Offensive inconsistency has kept him from sticking in big leagues. Left-handed swing is questionable, making it a surprise he decided to try and switch-hit this spring instead of focusing on cleaning up swing from right side.


  • ian olson | March 7, 2009 | 9:02 am

    So who’s it going to be?

    If they start the season with out Stewart on the roster, as long as he’s good to go after the injury, they’re retarded. I’m fine with Smith in left. I’d like to see Gonzalez earn a spot.

    Impart you wisdom Ringolsby. You have your own website now. Give us some good informed opinions.

  • Andrew | March 7, 2009 | 9:30 am

    With Baker and Stewart being IFs that can play OF, couldn’t an OF take place of Q? That could mean Smith-Spils-Hawpe-Pods-Murton in the OF and Helton-Barmes-Tulo-Atkins in the IF and Baker-Stewart for either

  • Tracy Ringolsby | March 7, 2009 | 10:26 am

    If I made the call right now I’d go with Murton, a right-handed bat, and Podsednik, a left-handed bat, as my back up outfielders.

    I think Stewart is ready to play in the big leagues but the every day opportunity isn’t there. I see Gonzalez as a player who could explode on the scene, but unless he is going to play regularly, my prefernece with a young player would be to have him getting his regular at-bats at Triple-A with the idea that if an injury occurred he could come up and step in the lineup.

    Murton provides a right-handed alternative in left field and right field, along with Baker. Podsednik, meanwhile, is a left-handed back up for Spilborghs and then some. Podsednik also is the on proven base stealer on the roster, and he is a center fielder by trade. He is not a corner outfielder trying to adjust. With Spilbroghs not a true center fielder, for his sake, it might be wise to have an experienced backup.

    Andrew, there are two keys to Quintanilla. He is a left-handed hitter, which provides matchup options to get him playing time in place of Barmes or Tulowitzki, and he is a true middle infielder. The most important aspect of a backup player up the middle is that he is defensively solid.

  • Marc | March 7, 2009 | 11:10 am

    I really don’t like the idea of Stewart not playing 120 games this year.
    I know it’s entirely too early to speculate on Atkins to the Yankees but I can’t help to think it could make Ian our everyday 3rd baseman and get the back end of the rotation the help it will dearly need.

  • Ava | March 7, 2009 | 12:16 pm

    More than likely Hurdle will keep Q as a backup 2nd baseman. Murton is the right handed bat they need for the outfield. I see him platooning with Seth Smith in LF. They need to keep Stewart, he’ll be the third baseman when Helton has to rest. As far as Podsednik being a CF by trade, his numbers for LF and CF are about even, 338 games as LF, 324 CF. But, there was a reason why Ozzie Guillen didn’t play in in CF for three seasons. Also, it’s great to have some speed on the bases, but it doesn’t do much good if a player can’t get on base. Podsednik has had only 1 season with an OBP of over .351, that was in 2003. I think they are in deep trouble if they rely soley on him for their speed.

  • steve force | March 7, 2009 | 2:51 pm

    Hello Tracy,

    I am so glad that I have found a place to read your words of wisdom. I will miss the Rocky but you can and should carry on.

    Go Tracy Go!!!!


  • Mike | March 7, 2009 | 11:25 pm

    It’s of minor comparison compared to on-field performance, but is Carlos Gonzalez really wearing #5? This doesn’t seem like the best idea.

  • Tracy Ringolsby | March 8, 2009 | 5:54 am

    Yes, he is wearing No. 5. The original story was that he asked for it, but now that the issue has been raised he is saying that it was given to him. Bottom line is the number shouldn’t matter. If he plays up to his ability it won’t be an issue because he has a lot of potential. There is, however, a reason the word potential is used.

  • Brian | March 8, 2009 | 2:39 pm

    I would much rather keep Stewart and send out Q. Baker can backup at 2nd and Barmes can back up Tulo at SS. There is no need to keep a light hitting utility guy on the roster in place of a power hitting Stewart. This lineup needs power potential with Holliday gone, now a dink and dunk glove.

  • Tom | March 9, 2009 | 10:10 pm

    I missed the part where Seth Smith earned the LF job. We’re all in love with Ian Stewart, why isn’t he being penciled in as the every day LF? Could he play his way into that job this spring?