Troy Renck writes that a couple of slots in the Rockies lineup are on notice for the month of May, as a combination of underwhelming performance and talent in the wings threatens the security of Chris Nelson and Dexter Fowler at third base and in center field. I am surprised that Dex is mentioned here, as Fowler's resurgence at the plate as well as much improved defense over his early season struggles should be giving him a bit more breathing room.
His .808 OPS is just behind Carlos Gonzalez' .812 and Troy Tulowitzki's .818. (UPDATE) After last night's game, Fowler's .837 OPS is ahead of Tulo (.827) and Cargo (.815.) All three seem to be warming up after a mostly cold early April. In fairness to Renck, I'm guessing that the bulk of this column may have been written before Fowler hit HR's in each of the last two games, padding his offensive stats a bit in the process.
Nelson, on the other hand, has always been a tenuous placeholder for the hot corner at best, and his sub .600 OPS on the season combined with the strong minor league performance of Jordan Pacheco makes me believe that a starter switch Renck implies could be in the works if Nelson doesn't improve will be coming sooner rather than later. The question of succession then will focus on Nolan Arenado. Here I think Renck may be right in seeing June or even later for that particular call-up, but I disagree vehemently that it has anything at all to do with the fact that Arenado "needs minor-league at-bats."
The difference between calling him up in May vs. June amounts to about 100 AB's, which is too little time for any sort of major instruction to take hold. Arenado's likely already as MLB ready now as he would be then, he's likely only a little more ready then he was at the beginning of the season. It's just a matter of when the Rockies want him to start his MLB career. At this point thanks to the CBA, it seems in the team's best interest as a business monetarily to wait until the summer for Arenado and try to patch the hole with Pacheco in the meantime. Arenado had a chance to push that timetable up with a stellar Spring Training, but as of now he'll have to wait.
Renck also adds Jhoulys Chacin to the list of players on the bubble, something I saw a couple of weeks ago with the "stretching out" demotion of Tyler Chatwood. With a healthy rotation at the time, that move wouldn't have been made without the ineffectiveness of a pitcher precipitating it. As I suggested, that pitcher was the Machine.
The Reds extensions of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce are further examples of a small market team making a big market play to keep popular players in town. In Tyler Kepner's article at the New York Times, we learn that Votto talked with the Rockies Todd Helton about the benefits of signing a deal that keeps him in one city for the remainder of his career before inking with the Reds. I think that these deals are also further proof of what I've been saying all along with the Rockies extensions too, that some owners are clearly seeing significant revenue opportunity at the gate and likely in television ratings (which also translate directly to team revenue) in star players beyond their on field win value contributions. The real argument that I think we need to get to isn't whether or not this excess value exists, as we see signs of it in all of these contracts, but where the cost/revenue curves in these contracts will likely hit their sweet spots. By that, I mean figuring out how many local star contracts certain teams could afford before diminishing returns make them no longer worth pursuing.
Jeremy Guthrie's biking injury is being likened to another infamous Rockies off field setback, as current Pirate Clint Barmes recollects the venison fall of seven years ago.
And speaking of infamous Rockies injuries, Josh Outman made his return to the mound with the Nuts. Give punchline of the day honors to Brian Vanderbeek:
Josh Outman made the traditional gesture of buying the post-game spread for his temporary Modesto Nuts teammates.
Rest assured the spread wasn't catered by Denny's.