Wednesday Rockpile: Sorting out the Rockies' 2012 Bench Candidates

This past week on the Bachelor Baseball Off-Season Speculation, the Rockies' crowd of rotational candidates dropped from 17 to 15 with the trades of Kevin Slowey and Clayton Mortensen. To get a breakdown of the remaining candidates, you would do well to check out my profile on each of the suitors last week. For the record, Slowey's departure makes Alex White my new favorite for spot number 5 in the rotation, though the veteraniness of Jamie Moyer is stronger than most mortal men can endure.

The plan this week was to do a similar profile of the second base candidates, but the Marco Scutaro trade scuttled that debate pretty quickly...or did it just expand the scope of the article to include all the positional bench candidates? Of course it did! I'm so incorrigible. After all, I did say as the off-season began that Colorado's lack of quality depth was a primary reason why 2011 was a terrible experience. Let's see if 2012 is looking any different.

The way I see it, there are 5 bench spots open (2 or 3 IF, 1 or 2 OF, C) for a crowd of 13 gentlemen (Casey Blake penciled in as a starter), most in the infield. Unlike last week, when I took a longshot to favorite tack, I'm going from lock to lark (briefly). Okay, maybe it will be loosely based on positional group.

He Will Never, Ever Leave This Team (Ever)

Name: Jason Giambi
Codename: Ion Samba Jig
Relationship Status: Thrice Divorced, Still Keeps Showing Up
Street Cred: Biceps larger than your legs, MVP winner, 5 time All-Star, hit 13 HRs in 132 PAs last season
Fatal Flaw: In the same age neighborhood as Jamie Moyer (in his 40s, anyway), has range of a beached whale, the Rockies are not a club with a DH
Verdict: Designated Pinch-Hitter, Clubhouse Presence, Badass

The Only Other Catcher On The 40 Man Roster

Name: Wilin Rosario
Codename: Raisin Row Oil
Relationship Status: Single -- Dude's got 2 options
Street Cred: Catcher of the Future Since 2009, elite power for a catcher, excellent throwing arm
Fatal Flaw: Needs to work on game-calling, plate discipline evokes Miguel Olivo comparisons
Verdict: Rosario is on the roster by default at the moment (as I don't see Pacheco being the full-time back-up there), but it's very possible that Colorado's back-up catcher isn't on the roster yet.

Filling the Void Left by Seth Smith and Ryan Spilborghs

Name: Charlie Blackmon
Codename: Rollback Machine, Melancholic Bark, or Lock Chamberlain
Relationship Status: 3 options
Street Cred: Sweet line-drive swing, can play all three outfield positions well, crush of Fangraphs' Carson Cistulli, great twitter feed
Fatal Flaw: He wasn't particularly effective in his injury shortened 2011 cameo
Verdict: He's got the inside track to a 2012 roster slot because of his defense and speed, but he'll be in a dogfight with the next few gentlemen on this list.

Name: Tyler Colvin
Codename: Lint, Cry, Love
Relationship Status: 2 options
Street Cred: 1st round pedigree, was pretty decent in a part-time role for the Cubs in 2010
Fatal Flaw: His 2011 was almost as bad as Ian Stewart's, he was traded for Ian Stewart
Verdict: Will start the season in AAA, though it's very easy to see him winning the reserve role over the Rollback Machine.

Name: Jamie Hoffmann
Codename: Jiff, Home Manna
Relationship Status: A solitary option
Street Cred: He was picked in the 2003 NHL draft, he's right-handed, he's hit pretty well in the minors
Fatal Flaw: There is a Jamie Hoffmann Sucks Forum, he only has 28 ML PAs to his name as a 27 year-old
Verdict: He'll play the Cole Garner role this season, emerging from AAA only in dire need

Name: Tim Wheeler
Codename: Wire Helmet
Relationship Status: 3 options
Street Cred: Broke out something fierce in 2011 (33 HRs in AA), deemed untouchable in Martin Prado trade talks, good power/speed combo
Fatal Flaw: Platoon splits are a big issue for the lefty, hasn't played above AA, tailed off significantly toward the end of the year
Verdict: He'll be the third member of the AAA outfield, eyeing a mid-season call-up

Name: Eric Young Jr.
Codename: You Cringe
Relationship Status: In a Relationship -- no options left
Street Cred: Truly elite speed, passable OBP for the bottom of the order, can theoretically play both infield and outfield
Fatal Flaw: No power to speak of, a defensive liability anywhere he plays, gets picked off an unusual amount of times
Verdict: End of the line for Mr. Young in Colorado -- love watching him on the basepaths though

After the fold, the infield candidates!

He Totally Stole Home Once

Name: Chris Nelson
Codename: Loch Sinners
Relationship Status: Trapped in a relationship with an employer who doesn't love him, no options
Street Cred: 1st round pedigree, can play 2B/3B/SS, quick wrists show power potential, stole home once
Fatal Flaw: Nelson's MLB career to this point hasn't been very successful, EY2 has more than twice as many MLB plate appearances (but a worse line overall)
Verdict: I really hope that Nelson gets that reserve slot in 2012, as he has the highest upside (still) of the infield candidates

Scrappy McBloopsaHit

Name: Jonathan Herrera
Codename: Earthen Horn Ajar
Relationship Status: Somehow he still has one option remaining
Street Cred: Plays solid up the middle defense, works the count well, strangely (almost frustratingly) effective when he's on a hot streak
Fatal Flaw: He's a terrible hitter...really terrible (career 65 OPS+), very little upside
Verdict: He belongs in AAA this year, especially with Scutaro's ability to spell Tulo in a pinch

The Jury's Still Out On...

Name: DJ LeMahieu
Codename: Jade Helium
Relationship Status: 2 options
Street Cred: Elite contact skills, great hit tool, solid at both 2nd and 3rd base
Fatal Flaw: Hasn't developed power and he's not very patient at the plate
Verdict: DJ LeMath would do well to get some more reps in at AAA -- maybe hitting in the wind tunnel in the Springs will help his power to manifest itself.

The Third String Catcher and Back-up Everything Else

Name: Jordan Pacheco
Codename: Deacon Jar Chop
Relationship Status: 2 options
Street Cred: Has hit well throughout minor league career, works count well, is a "professional hitter", good contact and patience
Fatal Flaw: Not a plus defender anywhere, not a lot of power, struggled in AAA last year
Verdict: I don't know if he makes the club, but the organization sure does like him

Overlooked Prospects With a Shot

Name: Hector Gomez
Codename: Tech Germ Zoo
Relationship Status: It's Complicated -- Gomez probably has a bonus 4th option in 2012
Street Cred: Former Top 100 prospect, a full toolbox of middle infielder skills
Fatal Flaw: Extremely (ridiculously) injury prone, lacks patience at the plate
Verdict: AA or AAA, it's his last shot to impress the brass

Name: Thomas Field
Codename: Fail Methods, Famished Lot
Relationship Status: 3 options
Street Cred: Excellent fielder, solid contact skills at the plate, surprising power in the minors, does a lot of things well
Fatal Flaw: Doesn't do anything exceptionally, lacks huge upside
Verdict: Field makes a very serious run at the MLB job, but spends 2012 at AAA

The One

Name: Nolan Arenado
Codename: A Adrenal Noon
Relationship Status: 3 options
Street Cred: Elite contact skills, great make-up, tore up the Arizona Fall League, definite star potential
Fatal Flaw: Hasn't played above High A, he's pretty slow
Verdict: 3rd baseman of the future...emphasis on future

So to recap, I see the Rockies' bench on Opening Day 2012 consisting of Giambi, Rosario, Blackmon, Nelson, and Pacheco.

Los Links!

Grant Brisbee writes that Colorado's off-season additions make the Ubaldo trade look suspicious for Cleveland.

Tom Verducci writes about the Rockies' veteran additions this off-season.

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