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More fish in the pool are after Roberts and Crisp

Going after the same scarce supply of center fielders, apparently. The White Sox are circling around a couple of the players stated as possible Rockies targets, Dave Roberts and Coco Crisp. While we won't be able to outspend them monetarily in the Roberts chase if they decide that's the direction they want to go, they won't be able to compete with our ability to put a trade package together for Crisp. The real question either way is if this means that Brian Anderson is available and if he would fit the Rockies needs for the position. Anderson was awful for much of the first half of the season before rebounding somewhat the second half, although he was still in Ozzie Guillen's doghouse by the end of the year. He's been unspectacular in Venezuela thus far as well. The question for the Rockies is will he have enough pop to satisfy the FO's opinion of what they need for the position? I think looking at his minor league and college career that there's upside in his power potential, and he will most certainly mature to be a more solid contributor than Cory Sullivan, but how soon that occurs might be a drawback for the Rockies to pursue a deal.


Let's look closely at the projected lineup going into 2007 to see why this position is such a concern:

  1. Center-fielder or Carroll/Kaz
  2. Carroll/Kaz or cf
  3. Atkins
  4. Holliday
  5. Helton
  6. Hawpe/Baker
  7. Yorvit/Iannetta
  8. Tulo/Barmes
  9. Pitcher
Okay, here's the Rockies 2006 list, by the best and worst hitters with significant AB's in each slot by OPS (center fielders in bold):

1. Rockies: .750
Best: Kaz .853
Worst: Sullivan .713
Opponents: .702

2. Rockies: .803
Best: Helton .962; Spilborghs .948
Worst: Salazar .554; Barmes .733
Opponents: .769

3. Rockies .964
Best: Atkins 1.059
Worst: Helton .897
Opponents: .887

4. Rockies: .946
Best: Holliday .981
Worst: Atkins .851
Opponents: .999

5. Rockies: .916
Best: Atkins .946; Holliday .932
Worst: Helton .775
Opponents: .825 (Hawpe .890)

6. Rockies: .784
Best: Hawpe .900 (Baker 1.320)
Worst: Spilborghs .495; LAG .614
Opponents: .728

7. Rockies: .657
Best: Jason Smith 1.009
Worst: Barmes .500
Opponents: .800 (Yorvit .591 but much better after July 1, Tulo .552)

8. Rockies: .648
Best: Iannetta .887; Freeman .769
Worst: Sullivan .467, Ardoin .520, Barmes .542
Opponents: .854

Cory Sullivan is a bottom of the lineup hitter despite his poor outing in the eighth slot, Jeff Salazar and Choo Freeman as well. Ryan Spilborghs is the wild card. He's the exact answer to what we're looking for from a batting perspective as long as he can man the position. To me, watching him on film he seemed to get bad reads on the ball and his routes didn't give him the best opportuntiy to make plays in the infield.  However, as Dan at Up in the Rockies points out the stats seemingly tell a different story, but the problem with those numbers as with his batting stats is the small sample size. Maybe he is a solution, but right now without much experience it's too risky to assume that.

Why am I high on Coco Crisp? Click on this link to his three season splits page at ESPN, and scroll down to the "Batting #2" line. His OPS out of the second slot over the past three seasons and 500 plus at bats is a healthy .846. That would be a 5% premium over what the Rockies did as a team this past season and give us a healthy advantage over our average opponent. Alex Rios has a .905 OPS in the second slot over the same span, but I see that deal as more difficult ot pull off. The ideal lineup with the staff we have right now would break down at the bottom and in theory would clog the basepaths with Helton in the two hole, Spilborghs possibly could bat higher, but the rest of the bunch are too unreliable to be a sage call at the top:

  1. Carroll/Kaz
  2. Helton
  3. Atkins
  4. Holliday
  5. Hawpe/Baker
  6. Yorvit/Tulo
  7. CF
  8. Tulo/Iannetta
  9. pitcher
With Crisp or Rios the kinks smooth out:
  1. Kaz/Carroll
  2. Crisp
  3. Atkins
  4. Holliday
  5. Helton
  6. Hawpe/Baker
  7. Yorvit/Tulo
  8. Iannetta/Tulo
  9. Pitcher
I like batting Iannetta eighth because his on base skills will require teams to pitch to our pitchers more frequently and thus mean more opportunities for the lead-off hitters. Yorvit's more of a run producer so he moves up a slot when it's his turn. Helton didn't have much success in the fifth slot this past season but I think with consistency he'll be fine there. With Hawpe or Baker batting behind him he should have enough protection to be successful as well.

The point is by upgrading center we'll actually improve our lineup significantly in the three slots at both the top (#2) and the bottom (#7 and #8) that we were considerably weaker than our opposition this past season. Sticking with what we have will leave us hoping for a best case scenario (Spilborghs) that's probably more risky than the chances we're already going to be taking at short and second. I don't think we need to play the dice on this one if we don't have to.