Rock mining week 14: veteran bench bat

Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Is Xavier Nady the answer, and if so, what is the question?

With all of the recent call ups due to injury, the Colorado Rockies recently went outside the organization and brought in Xavier Nady to play outfield in Colorado Springs. Nady left the Royals AAA club to play for the Rockies AAA club because he thought it would give him a better chance to get back to the majors at age 34. We can only assume that Rockies also made this move with an eye on what he can bring to the big league team.

Nady, who had a decent career playing in San Diego and PIttsburgh saw his statistics decline as he passed the age of 30 and as he sought the bright lights of the Big Apple. After two partial seasons with the Yankees, he has bounced around and Rockies fans have seen him play for Arizona and San Francisco over the past two years. While he is not the .280/.330/.450 hitter that he once was, he had provided a quality bat off of the bench for several teams.

Baseball reference.com likens his career to Ron Coomer, Jay Gibbons, and John Mabry as well as former Rockies like Jeffrey Hammonds, Gabe Kapler, and Todd Hollandsworth (I forgot Mabry had also played for the Rockies in 2007). Based on their declines and his own decline, Nady would likely be a right handed version of Todd Helton, maybe hitting .240/.320/.350. This obviously is not good enough to be a starting outfielder for the Rockies, but with injuries and youth, he could play a role for this team.

Rockies pinch hitters for the season have batted a respectable .248/.313/.359 on the year. However, if you remove the normal starters from the numbers, the reserve bats for the Rockies have pinch hit at a rate of .221/.280/.291. Further, the right handed bench options of Josh Rutledge, Jordan Pacheco, and Jonathan Herrera have averaged just .207/.303/.276 as pinch hitters. Yorvit Torrealba has done well as a pinch hitter, getting four hits in eight at bats, but it can be a difficult decision to use your back up catcher in a close game.

Over the last three years, Xavier Nady has averaged .257/.346/.457 as a pinch hitter in 70 at bats. With all of this said, I see two roles for Nady on this year's Rockies. If injuries continue in the outfield, the team will need a right handed option to spell all of the southpaw hitters (Colvin, Dickerson, Gonzalez). Hopefully this will not be the case, and instead he can play a role in a September pennant race that could be very close.

When the rosters expand, Xavier could be a very valuable asset to the team. Providing key pinch hits, giving breaks to tired outfielders, and providing an option against tough lefties in the division while giving veteran guidance to young players down the stretch would provide value to this team.

While I would like to see the Rockies add an impact bat, the most likely position would be at first base and I do not see the team making that move this year. Instead, it will have to be small moves like a veteran platoon outfielder that we as fans have to look forward to on the offensive side while they kick the tires on starting pitchers and relievers. Nady is a low risk option that just might provide a boost to this team down the stretch. The worst case is he leaves when another team can give him a better chance to get that last shot at the big leagues.

The Good-the competition

With the Rockies struggling and fighting injuries, the team could have fallen in the standings by only winning five of their last seventeen games and only two of six this week. However the NL West, other than the Dodgers, have been just as dreadful and the Rockies are still in second place, only 3.5 games out. Somehow winning the next two in Arizona would put them in a good place with one week until the All-Star break. Even winning one will ensure they are still just 3.5 games out of first.

The Bad-bizzaro bullpen

While the bullpen has had it's ups and downs this year, there have been some consistent relievers, most notably Rex Brothers and Adam Ottavino. Even Manny Corpas had been doing well since be called up. This week went backwards for Walt Weiss's relievers as Brothers(18.00ERA), Ottavino(7.71ERA), and Corpas(6.75ERA) were anything but relief. Meanwhile inconsistent Josh Outman, Matt Belisle, and Wilton Lopez combined for over eight shutout innings.

The Ugly-Roy Oswalt's home debut

Oswalt throws strikes, the only problem is that the Dodgers found them to be very hittable strikes. He probably has several more starts to prove himself, but through three losses so far, he has not looked like an improvement over the other options. I feel that having him pitch next to Tyler Chatwood in the rotation also hurts Chatwood as they have a similar look. Juan Nicasio threw eight shutout innings on only 93 pitches in Colorado Springs last night and the Rockies are interested in several pitchers on other teams so the Roy Oswalt experiment could turn into this year's version of Jamie Moyer.

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