Rockies offseason preview: Shortstop
The Colorado Rockies have some questions to answer about their 2011 lineup, but who will playing shortstop isn’t one of them.
WHO’S LIKELY TO RETURN
, 315, 27 HRs, 95 RBI: At least one position on the 2011 Rockies is settled. Tulowitzki led all major-league shortstops in hitting, home runs, RBI, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He ended the season as the National League’s Player of the Month after a memorable stretch during which he hit 14 home runs in 15 games. Tulowitzki and make up perhaps the most dynamic three-four duo in any lineup in baseball. Tulowitzki will earn $5.5 million in the fourth year of a six-year contact that includes an option for 2014.
ON THE FARM
and are running into the same sort of roadblock Garrett Atkins and , both first basemen once upon a time, hit: the franchise player. Nelson and Gomez, along with Thomas Field, another shortstop at high Class-A Modesto, could be major-league regulars one day, perhaps even at another position with the Rockies. But as long as he’s healthy, Tulowitzki is a fixture as the starting shortstop.
WHAT THE ROCKIES NEED
The only thing more the Rockies could ask from Tulowitzki is a healthy season. The six weeks he missed with a fractured wrist starting in mid-June hurt the Rockies just as they were beginning to gel and may have cost Tulowitzki more serious consideration as the NL MVP.
WHAT THE ROCKIES WILL DO
Tulowitzki’s the guy, but if — the Rockies’ starting shortstop before Tulowitzki and his injury replacement in 2010 — is non-tendered and leaves the team, the most logical backup plan leaves as well. , who is a good bet to make the team either as the starting second baseman or utility infielder, played primarily shortstop throughout his minor-league career and would become the emergency shortstop. Nelson, too, has spent most of his minor-league career at shortstop and is an option in a pinch, but the Rockies might decide to let him focus next season on another position, like second base, where he has the chance to stick in the major leagues.