Ten days shy of Opening Day, five of the six infield spots seem to be set for the Opening Day roster. Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Rutledge and Todd Helton are going to be starters at short, second and first. Jordan Pacheco seems to have a bench spot locked up. Chris Nelson is likely to be the third baseman to start, but if Nolan Arenado usurps him, Nelson is likely to be traded, leaving the bench untouched.
The last role for the infield left to decide is utility infield, and there are plenty of candidates. Josh Rutledge's versaility does no favors in paring down the field, as his ability to play shortstop negates the requirement that the backup in question be able to play both second and short. The candidates:
Why He Could Get the Job: More than any other player on this list, Herrera is part of the Rockies' fabric. He has been a Rockie his entire career and is a childhood friend of Carlos Gonzalez. The Rockies' tendered Herrera a contract last fall when they could have thinned the herd up the middle, and Herrera now has a $900k contract for 2013, which might make a trade more difficult. He has hit the best of the candidates during spring.
Why He Might Not Get the Job: He's not the most talented hitter or fielder on this list and he has one option remaining.
Why He Could Get the Job: With increased playing time late in the season in 2012, LeMahieu continued to improve. His high contact, low strikeout approach makes him a weapon on the road, and he can play third base in addition to second base. The Rockies essentially acquired him for a former first round pick.
Why He Might Not Get the Job: He has an option year remaining and is not an option at shortstop.
Why He Could Get the Job: The Rockies traded for Brignac knowing he was out of options, so he clearly is in the picture despite his recent struggles at the big league level. Brignac has the highest prospect pedigree on this list and is a very solid gloveman. Coors could resuscitate his career in a big way. He's the only player without an option remaining on this list, so if he makes the team, Colorado can keep every player.
Why He Might Not Get the Job: He is out of options and is just 3-for-18 in spring training. Being the outsider of this group, that's not the way to get noticed. Releasing Brignac would be relatively painless.
Why He Could Get the Job: He is arguably the highest rated of the candidates that still qualify as prospects. He was acquired for Marco Scutaro last year, and his presence on the roster could partially validate that trade.
Why He Might Not Get the Job: He has two option years remaining and not hit well at all this spring.
Why He Could Get the Job: The Rockies traded a big league piece in Matt Reynolds for Wheeler, who can play third base and first base.
Why He Might Not Get the Job: His position on the field is redundant with Jordan Pacheco, and Wheeler has not put up much of an argument with his bat this spring, going 3-or-19 with 5 strikeouts. He has all three option years and is an easy stash at AAA. Perhaps most importantly, he cannot play up the middle, which is a requirement if Pacheco is the other bench infielder. As such, he's already been optioned.
Without intending to, I set that list up in decreasing order of likelihood those men will be on the Opening Day roster, barring injury. Your thoughts?
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