If not Stewart, who might be in line to join Rockies?

April 28, 2011 | 12:13 am | 24  

With the Colorado Rockies now getting two days off before starting a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates and another day of rest after the series, the team’s need to carry 13 pitchers has been reduced significantly. And with Ty Wigginton now slowed by a side injury, the Rockies could revisit adding a position player for the weekend. Rain is in the forecast for Saturday and the Rockies may stick with their current setup for a few more days depending on how Wigginton improves with two days off. But eventually the Rockies will add another position player. A look at the candidates to join the team when the time comes:

Ian Stewart, 3B: With Stewart eligible to come back to the majors this weekend, the Rockies could simply let Stewart reclaim his roster spot in the coming days. Stewart is hitting .429 with two home runs and 12 RBI in six games, and just as important has struck only once in his past three games. But having already sent him to Triple-A, the Rockies may choose to let him continue to get regular at-bats for another week or two and continue to work on his overall approach at the plate. It would also allow the Rockies to keep trying to work Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez out of slumps without having to contend with Stewart for playing time.

Chris Nelson, IF: Has quietly had a solid season for the Sky Sox, hitting .324 with two home runs and 11 RBI. He has played second, third and short this season and would provide more versatility for the Rockies especially if Wigginton’s injury is a continuing problem. The biggest drawback: he’s a right-handed hitter, and if Wigginton is healthy Nelson doesn’t fit well in already crowded infield.

Eric Young Jr., IF/OF: Already on the 40-man roster and a veteran of the Rockies clubhouse, he would be a seamless addition for a few days until Stewart is ready to return. He’s hitting .328 with with six stolen bases and more walks than strikeouts in 17 games. His game-changing speed would be an asset off the bench. The Rockies already know who he is as a second baseman — an athletic but erratic fielder — but complicating a recall is the increased playing time Young has been getting outfield. The Rockies may prefer that he continue to get regular playing time in the outfield to improve his defense there.

Alfredo Amezaga, IF/OF: He’s hitting .364 with eight doubles and 11 RBI and provides perhaps the best mix of versatility and experience. He can play nearly anywhere on the diamond and is a switch-hitter. The biggest drawback to bringing him up now would be the risk losing him later. If the Rockies feel he can be a valuable addition down the stretch later in the season or insurance against an injury in the infield, they would need to find a way to keep him in the majors once they bring him up. Given how he has played at Triple-A this year, some team would probably claim him off waivers if he were exposed.

Mike Jacobs, 1B: The best argument is how he is hitting at Triple-A — .361 with five home runs and 20 RBI. The argument against is a fairly obvious one: the Rockies already have two left-handed first baseman and might find more value in a 13th pitcher than a third left-handed hitter limited to one position.

Josh Fields, 1B/3B: He provides some of the same upside as Jacobs — major-league experience and a solid bat off the bench. While he can play first base like Jacobs, he can play third base as well, which would better balance with the Rockies’ needs. But he would require a 40-man roster move to clear room.

Charlie Blackmon, OF: On merit alone, he has probably earned a recall. He’s been the Sky Sox’s best hitter and arguably the best in the farm system thus far, hitting. 354 with seven doubles, six home runs, 20 RBI and five stolen bases. Two major drawbacks: he’s a left-handed hitter and finding time in an outfield with two other left-handed hitters wouldn’t be easy; and while he’s almost certain to see the majors at some point this year, if the Rockies recall him for a brief stay and send him back to Triple-A, they will burn an option. But if he comes up and stays up, either in case of an injury or as a September callup, the Rockies will still get a look at him with using an option.

Cole Garner, OF: His season got off to a good start — currently he’s hitting .366 — but a hand injury sidelined him more than a week. He played Tuesday for the first time since April 15. He will need a few more days to get back to where he was before the injury, but among outfielders, he would be the easiest recall for a few days because he’s already on the 40-man roster.

Willy Taveras, OF: Like Young he would bring game-changing speed and familiarity with the Rockies clubhouse. But after a decent start — .255, two home runs, three stolen bases — he hasn’t played since leaving a game on April 20 with an injury. If he’s healthy, he’s the best defensive option in the outfield, but he would necessitate a 40-man roster move.

Jordan Pacheco, C: He’s not off to a bad start at Triple-A, but was hitting just .265 until a 5-for-5 night Tuesday boosted his average to .333. Pacheco continues to be a work in progress as catcher and the Rockies are far more likely to keep him behind the plate everyday in the minors than put him on the bench in the majors.

24 Comments »

  • Anonymous | April 28, 2011 | 8:07 am

    Josh Fields bats Right handed?

  • Wayne | April 28, 2011 | 8:25 am

    The most seamless move, but the one they should wait on, would be Stewart. I would prefer to give Nelson the shot. He is infield versatile, hitting well with a little pop, and as a former #1 I think he should be first in line if all things are equal.

  • Eric W. | April 28, 2011 | 8:29 am

    Willy Taveras, Chris Nelson, or Josh Fields would all be great choices….

    Taveras provides, you with the speed (pinch running) late in games, and as a back up outfielder…

  • Karl | April 28, 2011 | 8:31 am

    I also think it’s time for Nelson especially if Wiggy’s side is still hurting. Give Stewart another week to make sure he is really ready and then stick him back in the lineup each day. Lopez is hitting hard outs but without much success, so let Nelson get a couple of starts and see if he can get hot. If not send him back down and bring Stewart up. Nice problem to have is the depth, but it does need to be productive depth to be valued depth.

  • Swam | April 28, 2011 | 8:33 am

    I am hating the Lopez signing more and more everyday.

  • Bill K. | April 28, 2011 | 8:49 am

    I’m excited about Blackmon, having seen him this spring. I think he’s going to have a nice career… great mix of power and speed. But as was said, a lefty outfielder isn’t a great need right now. If Stewart isn’t ready to reclaim his role, I’d take Nelson or Amezaga. If Amezaga outplayed Lopez once up, maybe it would make sense to get rid of Jose and his warning-track power once Stewart was ready to return?

  • Dustin | April 28, 2011 | 9:24 am

    too early to judge the lopez deal. It’s only april folks.

  • Robb | April 28, 2011 | 9:25 am

    I would also leave Stewart down for a little longer to get him more at-bats, plus to help him appreciate a little more what he had playing in the majors. My choice to bring up would be EY. Not because he is the best player necessarily, but he can play several positions and his speed would be an asset off the bench they don’t have right now. And, he is on the 40-man so no other moves need to be made. Whomever it is will probably only be up for a few days so don’t waste it on Blackmon. If Wiggy goes on the DL, then you can start with EY and bring up Stewart in a few days.

  • Marcus | April 28, 2011 | 9:33 am

    E.Y. Jr. please!! I love the combo of Fowler and E.Y. at the top of the lineup. Herrera would make a great 8 hole hitter.

  • Ike | April 28, 2011 | 9:49 am

    Stewart was challenged to have a break out year and a significant portion of the teams off season design revolved around his “make or break” year. The Springs trip was basically extended Spring Training and he has taken some excellent AB’s at the Springs of late. No reason to over analyze. His is ready. The Rockies are much better with him going well and he plays tremendous D at 3B. I say that unless he does something colossally stupid tonight, get him up here and in the lineup tomorrow night and move on with the original plan. Further, I wouldn’t take any chances with Wiggy. I’d DL him and bring up either Nelson or Blackmon.

  • ian | April 28, 2011 | 9:50 am

    Ease up on Lopez. He has hammered more than a couple of balls in terrible conditions on the trip. He’s playing great at 3rd. The bat will come around.

    Everyone always obsessed with hitting. There’s more to the game than that.

  • Rocky Mountain High | April 28, 2011 | 10:26 am

    As Steve said, rain in the forecast which means we might end up playing a double header Sunday. So keep Mortensen up in case we need arms for the doubleheaders. That would buy Stewart another week of regular ABs.

    If Jim Tracy has to make a move, I choose Chris Nelson because he’s already shown last year that he can contribute off the bench (remember the stolen home for the winning run?) without looking like a deer with headlights in the eyes.

  • Julian | April 28, 2011 | 10:31 am

    I might say Amezaga, but then you have to make another move to the 40 man roster (Escalona to the 60 day DL?). Nelson would be fine too, but only if he gets a regular opportunity to play (for example, if Wigginton will be out for a while with his injury. Nelson seems to be finally healthy, and he needs to play every day. At this point, it’s better that he plays every day at AAA than that he sits on the Rockies’ bench.

  • BurningBrule | April 28, 2011 | 10:47 am

    Charlie Blackmon! I want to see him in The Show.

  • Ike | April 28, 2011 | 10:51 am

    They won’t, but what they should do is cancel Saturdays game now and play two tomorrow. Regardless, they don’t need a fifth starter until May 7 if every game goes off as planned so Rogers is already in the bullpen. If Stewart is ready, Stewart is ready. I don’t see what extra minor league ABs gets him. I was told that Stewart was 33% of the reason the Carney Lansford is here. There were some really basic spring training things Stewart had to put together that could only come from repetition. Done. He should be reunited with Lansford and the Rockies should continue with Plan A, especially since plan B (or C) is hurt.

    In my perfect world, tonight he lays down a successful bunt, has single up the middle, steals a base, has a 10 pitch AB, goes the the opposite way for a HR and then is standing on 3B when the game starts at Coors tomorrow night.

  • Mike Raysfan | April 28, 2011 | 11:18 am

    My choices would be 1) Stewart 2)Nelson 3)Fields in that order.

    Lopez? Maybe he is trying too hard? That was the alleged knock on him last season. He puts too much pressure on himself. Then again it could be a simple as the comments in the Dallas media, which were pretty plain as to why the Rangers didn’t want him a Young deal.

    It was rumored that the Giants might be shopping Mark DeRosa. :>) Of course it might become hard to move him if he is on the DL with continued wrist problems. Even after surgery.

  • Special Ed | April 28, 2011 | 11:47 am

    I’d want to bring up a IF/OF guy. Someone who can spell an IF who might need a break, and someone who can go into the outfield if you need it. Nobody is going to replace Cargo, but if he needs a few days off to clear his head and get his bat back in order, you have a body to do it. Cargo hasn’t quite been the same since he had the flu, his body might just need a nap.

    I don’t Stewart back until he forces his way back. He might be hitting great now, but I want to wait until he’s got the pure “I can do this” mentality. 2 weeks of hitting could be a streak, and he knows it. Do this for another 2 weeks and he will probably get a bit of a swagger back.

  • Julian | April 28, 2011 | 12:25 pm

    I thought about it some more and I am changing my answer. If Wigginton is out, then Fields should be brought up because he is a righthanded backup to Todd and he can backup third base. Of course, that would require some action in regard to the 40 man roster.

  • Swam | April 28, 2011 | 1:26 pm

    I’m hard on Lopez because he is not an exciting player. Nelson is an exciting player (who will forget him stealing home last season?) and EY2 is exciting. Lopez is serviceable at best; and when he isn’t hitting he doesn’t bring much else to the table. Feel free to disagree but I would rather have the $3-plus million back that was spent on Lopez and give either of the two youngsters mentioned above a true shot.

  • Bill | April 28, 2011 | 4:43 pm

    Marcus you have to be out of your mind. Why would you move Herrara out of the 2 hole and move him to 8 for EY who is a great athlete but has no position to play.

    Sorry we shouldn’t be calling other posters out so I will say I strongly disagree with you. And where would you play EY? We already have very good defensive players in left, center and 2nd which I believe are the only positions that EY can play.

    I’m for bringing up Stewart. And if Wiggy has to go on the DL then a guy who can play multiple positions. Nelson or Almageza (I’m sure that’s spelled wrong).

    I was a big EY fan until he was called up last year. Last year he couldn’t field. Maybe he’s improved, but if not why mess with a good thing. Even when we’re not hitting we’re winning with good pitching (Starters a bit above average and bullpen way above average) and great defense. And timely hitting.

  • rockymountainhigh | April 28, 2011 | 8:27 pm

    Troy Renck tweeted Amazaga scratched from lineup tonight. Might he be the one called up?

  • Karl | April 28, 2011 | 9:43 pm

    RMH, seeing the same thing, pure speculation, but maybe they wait as long as possible to make the decision(s) because of the weekend weather. If Wiggy needs to go on DL, maybe the versatility is correct and they also bring up Nelson too. No 40 man roster moves that way.

    Still say that this can give Stewart another week or more of consistent at bats to make sure he is ready and given best opportunity to succeed. I don’t follow the EY or other moves that would require 40 man roster decisions like Taveras. Better to see Willy T later and after he heals up more. As for EY Jr, i love his speed and the Rox connection with him and his father, but might be better suited to trade him in a couple of months to someone that needs his potential.

  • rockymountainhigh | April 29, 2011 | 3:28 pm

    Jim Armstrong tweeted Amezaga here, Mortensen gone. Still doesn’t know about roster move to make room on the 40-man for Zaga if he’s up.

  • Simon | April 30, 2011 | 4:34 pm

    I’ve been following the Rox pretty closely this year. I’ve been to 2 games at Coors Field, all 4 at City Field, 2 at Sun Life stadium, 2 at Wrigley Field, and will be at all 3 at Chase Field.

    I have to say i’m not very impressed with Lopez. He just doesn’t seem comfortable or focused. On defense he’s made several not so good throws, and we all know how he is doing at the plate. I say give Ian a few more days down in the Springs and then bring him back up. Sent Lopez down to the Springs to get him re-focused. Personally I don’t like Wiggy either…but he was warming up and has come thru on a few occasions, i’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    What we need to focus on is getting CarGo back on track. Once we have CarGo and Ian back on track…we’re golden!