Larry Walker was available, so I grabbed it.
After the jump I ramble on about why I think third base is the key to righting the Rockie's ship this season. And how it might be fixed. One more point before the jump, the Rockies don't have an answer at third base for next year either.
The Rockies have underperformed in 2011 for a variety of reasons. They can’t all be fixed and injuries happen to everyone. You have to be the best team you can be, and hope that it is enough to get to the post season. Lots of the things that have gone wrong so far for the Rockies either have been addressed or might just work themselves out. But third base will have to be fixed.
Second base has been weak for the Rockies as well. The recent rumor of Jamie Carroll coming back to Denver is the kind of second base pick up that would fit. A solid average second baseman. Another way to solve second base is to trade for a third baseman and give second to Wigginton. It does seem likely that someone new will log a lot of games at second base over the remainder of the season.
Virtually every team would like more pitching and the Rockies are in that boat as well. The problem with pitching is that everybody wants more. The cost for a mid-rotation quality starter is rather high. What would the Rockies need? Well de la Rosa will be back in 2012, but probably not at 100% until 2013. Serious help from young arms in the minors seems a year or so off in the future. The Rockies might pick up a veteran that they can use through this year and perhaps 2012.
The big remaining question seems to be third base.
The trade deadline is July 31st. If Stewart is not the answer the Rockies will have to go out and find a third baseman if they have any hope of making it to the post season this year. Who should be on the Rockies radar screen? This is my partial list, please toss in the names that you think the Rockies should be looking at.
In House Candidates
Ty Wigginton – The incumbent. A 33 year old who ideally would be a bat used against lefties. Hitting .270 this year, and better of late. Fielding is at best adequate.
Ian Stewart – If only it were this easy. Stewart comes up to the Rockies and fulfills the promise that many have hoped was there. Or more likely, he lays an egg. Stewart had a Sky Sox batting average over .300 at one point in time. Now it is down to .280. Can he finally find his place in Coors Field? Who knows, but the Rockies may have to bring him up in the next few weeks to see what he can do. Because if the answer isn’t Stewart, it is time to find another answer.
Josh Fields – I know very little about Josh Fields, other than he is on the Sky Sox roster. Is he good enough to deserve a shot? His Triple A numbers are serviceable at best. In limited action in the Majors last year he hit .300. At least he would be above the Mendoza line.
Letting the Imagination Run Wild
Michael Young – Young was talked about as a possible Rockie before the season, but the trade never happened. At 35, Young may have a few years left, or he may be at the end of a great career. In either case he is having a great 2011 on a team that is not sure it wants him around, the Rangers brought in Adrian Beltre to replace him with a rich contract that runs through 2015. This year playing for Texas he has kept his average over .300 playing DH and occasionally in the field. Young is not cheap, making $12M in 2011 and 2012 and $13M in 2013.
Texas is sitting in first place in the AL West and have no real incentive to move Young, unless Young makes it an issue.
David Wright – The Mets owners might be broke and David Wright might be available. Right now he is on the DL and expected back in July. A career .300 hitter with power and a better than average glove he has underperformed this year. There is no reason to think that he couldn’t hold down third base for two or three years. Wright makes $14M this year, will make $15M next year. There’s a team $16M option for 2013 with a $1M buyout.
The Mets are sliding out of contention, so Wright may be available at limited cost. There is also the bad year issue. In Wright’s case it really is a bad couple of years. Not every player bounces back, but at 30, you would think that Wright still has the stuff to help the Rockies.
David Wright is not as superstar this year, but he would be an upgrade at third base. He might be OK or he might be good. If it didn’t work out you can cut the cord after 2012.
Aramis Ramirez – Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs is in the final guaranteed year of the contract at $14.6M. There is a club option at $15M for 2012 with a $2M buyout. The year has not gone well him or the Cubs. While the potential is there for a rebound, and the Cubs might want to unload his salary.
At 34 he is yet another third baseman who should be at the peak of his career, but might be past it. In this way, and in other facets, he looks like a four years older version of David Wright. Ramirez has made it clear that he would prefer to remain in Chicago for family reasons. Who knows if this is negotiable? Since the Rockies would be eating a lot of salary for an underperforming player, the cost for Ramirez should be reasonable.
Wins Over Replacement Greater than Zero
Blake can probably be had as part of the divorce settlement. The Rockies would not have to give up all that much to get Blake.
Wilson Betemit – Under contract for just this year at $1M, Betemit plays mostly third for Kansas City, though he recently spent some games at first. Soon thirty, he is an average to slightly better third baseman. The Royals have an heir apparent at third and Betemit is probably available for prospects.
Your Candidate Here- There are other third basemen that are available and may fit with the Rockies. What does one of the prospective players have to deliver? Well reasonable fielding would be nice. At least average offence, preferably with some pop. One would want the WAR to at least be neutral for a Joe Everybody piece.
A salary that is not a killer. Limited years for a higher priced veteran or not a lot of dollars. Though you get what you pay for and if we eat salary we don’t have to give up as many prospects. A veteran who can hold the spot for a couple of years in exchange for the Rockies assuming the salary is the traditional scenario. A younger player with more upside will cost us prospects.
So perhaps you fancy a Jeff Keppinger from Houston. Perhaps someone else. Who and why?