Current Starter (when injury free): Matt Holliday
Current Back-ups: Jorge Piedra, Cory Sullivan
Analysis: The corners are a tough cookie to crack because of the Matt Holliday Conundrum (MHC). What exactly is the MHC? It's simply that Matt Holliday is so good at Coors Field, a place we play eighty-one games that you can't justify sitting him there, but so bad offensively everywhere else that you can't justify playing him when we're on the road. Contrary to popular opinion, not every player is capable of walking into Coors Field and putting up numbers as big as Holliday's. I mean among our regulars there are two with a higher home OPS than Holliday's .965, Garrett Atkins and Clint Barmes. Still, you'd expect a regular corner outfielder to put up an OPS of around .900 regardless of where they play, and this is why I'm beginning to have my doubts that Holliday is a long term plus at the position - and certainly he's not on the road (.564 ranks him near the bottom). The back-ups are fine as long as they stay primarily back-ups, although I'd like to see more of Piedra who hits decently enough both at home and away (see below).
Prescription: The problem with the corner outfield spots is that veteran help tends to be either overpriced or a gamble not worth taking (see Dustan Mohr in right). This should be one of the easiest posts to fill from within, yet in the upper minors the Rox have little available (Jud Thigpen has surged this year, though and might be an option as early as 2006). My solution for now is to have Holliday play most games at home and Piedra most on the road (Piedra's road OPS of .728 trumps Holliday's by quite a bit) with Sullivan only filling in when one of the other two is injured. Sure it will bruise Holliday's ego to be pulled for road starts, but maybe it will also light a fire under him to perform better which is really what's needed. Unless a truly premium corner comes up in the free agent market (like Jason Bay or Miguel Cabrera) I would avoid looking to fill this from the outside via free agency or trade. Seth Smith is our best option inside the system for a long term cure and he's still two years away.
Current Starter: Preston Wilson Current back-up: Cory Sullivan, Choo Freeman (AAA) Assessment: With P-dub walking the Rox are looking to move his salary to someone who needs him and get a piece of the puzzle in return to boot. I don't think it's too much to ask, but once Preston leaves this will leave a hole in center that we don't know yet if Sullivan and Freeman can fill adequately. The good news, however, is that we have more options all down the system in Jeff Salazar, Tony Miller, Jordan Czarniecki and Dexter Fowler so we'll have several opportunities over the coming years to figure out who we like best.
Prescription: There's safety in numbers when it comes to prospects, somebody's going to work out very well, I just hope they're still on our team when they do :)
Anyway, the fill from within should work fine here.
Current Starter: Brad Hawpe
Current Backup: Dustan Mohr
Assessment/Prescription: Brad Hawpe has been everything at the plate we hoped he would be and should be a force here for years to come. Like Garrett Atkins, he's actually been a lot better than advertised on defense and his cannon of an arm is already starting to pay dividends as fewer runners are trying to test it these days. Dustan Mohr, meanwhile, is an example of the perils of free agency when it comes to the outfield and why I'm thinking we should focus on building here from within. As we let Mohr take his chances somewhere else after the season, Jud Thigpen or Ryan Spilborghs should be ready to step up next year in the back-up/right handed sub role.