Which Rockies prospect currently leads his off season league in RBI, is second in total bases, and third in OPS? Well, for the first two categories, there would be two correct answers, but the third one separates the pair, as Wilin Rosario ranks third in the Dominican Winter League in OPS (.974,) while Nolan Arenado ranks merely sixth in the category in the AFL (1.067.) We've spent plenty of time extolling Arenado's virtues this fall, but little on Rosario, who hit his fifth home run and drove in three in yesterday's contest.
Rosario, even more than Arenado, can push his way into the Rockies plans for Opening Day 2012 with a strong Winter/Spring showing, and unlike the case at third base, the incumbent whose job Wilin threatens would have legitimate trade value. Putting Chris Iannetta in play may make trades with teams that lack MLB catching depth that much easier, this should particularly be true with Houston for Wandy Rodriguez, where Arenado's current Salt River teammate, Jason Castro, represents the future, but might not be considered reliable enough in the present. Other teams that the Rockies have been linked to in trade rumors that lack catching depth include Miami, Tampa Bay and the Mets. Personally, I'd be most interested in dealing with Miami, as an exchange of Iannetta for either Chris Volstad or Ricky Nolasco could be a deal that benefits both teams with minor tweaking.
I'm not putting that out there lightly, I recognize Iannetta's one of the few somewhat valuable pieces the Rockies have on offense, and he's reasonably affordable for the next two seasons. It just could be a situation where taking a half step back at one position allows the franchise to move two steps forward in another.
Arenado and Castro were both named to the AFL Rising Stars East team. The Rockies led the majors with five selections, as most of their desert contingent got selected. Joining Arenado are pitchers Casey Weathers and Rob Scahill, outfielder Tim Wheeler and first baseman Ben Paulsen.
Sports Illustrated's NL West Hot Stove preview seems to consider only free agency as a means to benefit a team during the winter, and as such it comes away pessimistic about the Rockies finding help for next season due to a lack of starting pitching in the marketplace. They do see how Josh Willingham would benefit the club, and I have to agree with that. My first choice would still be Michael Cuddyer, but the A's slugger is not too far behind and I feel both Willingham and Cuddyer should be targeted by the Rockies until one or the other agrees to terms.