Well, here we are on game #153 come Monday, with 10 games remaining in the season (Padres, Astros, Giants), wondering how next season is going to turn out, between free agent signings, trades, prospects, etc. We've discussed the problem areas on the team, and one of the nastier (if not the nastiest) holes to fill is the 3B position. The options have been narrowed down to Aramis Ramirez, Chase Headley, Martin Prado, David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Jack Hannahan, Chris Johnson, Vinny Castilla, and Roger Dorn.
The Rockies got the 4th worst batting production from the 3B position in the majors per OPS (not park adjusted or anything, but I'd wager that park adjustments make it that much worse), and 7th worst fielding in the majors per TotalZone. Florida got the 8th worst fielding in the majors per TZ, but that was a whole 5 runs on the season above Colorado. Batting-wise, Rockies 3B batted a combined .217/.275/.332 on the season. Marlins 3B batted .267/.322/.352 in 2011, which is a screaming far cry from where the Rockies were, but definitely below average. The Marlins have also been linked to players such as Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, and Prince Fielder. Why 1B, I'm not entirely sure, as Gaby Sanchez has been a consistently above average player at 1B and is emerging as a plus fielder. Not near-Pujols levels, of course, but hey, it's their money, and it'd certainly make the NL East more interesting in 2012.
But as for 3B, we're entering an all-too-familiar position for the Rockies: interest in a player that other players are interested in. Typically, we'll find a guy that makes sense for the Rockies (Mike Napoli, Josh Willingham, Javier Vazquez, Lance Berkman, Jake Westbrook, the list goes on) and the minute another team sparks interest, the Rockies are suddenly not interested anymore.
What I simultaneously do and do not understand about this team is how they shy away from any kind of competition on a target player. I understand it because I am just awful at assembling trade packages or knowing how much to offer a player in free agency. This is why their people are paid a lot of money to make these decisions. But what I don't understand is why the Rockies are suddenly not interested anymore when another team shows interest. There's some variety of "out of the budget" and concerns about the prospect cost that end up costing the team the players they need.
What the Rockies need to realize in 2012 is that they have to muster up some gumption and be willing to potentially make a bad investment. Michael Young isn't really a good example of timid bidding, as I still have the impression that Nolan Ryan vetoed the deal because he just flat out didn't want to give up Michael Young for anything less than a "you'd be stupid to say no" deal. Mike Napoli could be construed as one the Rockies missed on, although they also didn't have a grossly overpaid and washed up outfielder coming off of a strong year to trade for Napoli (we call this the Tony Reagins Special).
With an Opening Day outfield likely penciled in as Smith (Gomes)-Fowler-Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon is probably expendable. Chris Nelson, Eric Young Jr., Ty Wigginton, those guys are guys we'd be lucky to get value on. Depending on how the Wilin Rosario situation shapes up, Jose Morales could be tradable as well (Pacheco as the emergency C) - or who knows, possibly even Chris Iannetta. Whoever it is though, the Rockies should be looking at anyone as a potential trade candidate who don't fall among the following: nailed down (Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez), still in their inexpensive years (Chacin and anyone younger), and Todd Helton (Todd Helton). We know from their past that they like to hold on to "favorites" for too long, and this might be the best time to buck that trend.
None of Stewart's comments are encouraging. He seems to see himself as a sure thing who has just hit a rough patch with injuries. He's very confident in himself, which is good, but he doesn't seem to recognize his problems, which is bad.
There's still hope for someone like Stewart, as his line over the past few years would play as average-to-above-average in the 2011 landscape. We'll see what the Rockies want to do with him.
Jorge De La Rosa, who's been ahead of his rehab schedule to date, will be starting a throwing program at the end of this week. He's throwing around timetables like "Opening Day". That's not terribly likely, but I have a good feeling about this.