Carlos Gonzalez May Replace Brad Hawpe in Rockies Lineup By Season's End

Tyler ThompsonCorrespondent IJune 2, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 02: Brad Hawpe #11 of the Colorado Rockies is congratulated by Troy Tulowitzki #2 after he hit a solo home run in the sixth inning of the their game against the San Francisco Giants on May 2, 2009 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

No one in the Rockies organization has been better in 2009 than Carlos Gonzalez, the prize of the Matt Holliday trade.

Gonzalez is hitting .348 on the season with 10 home runs and 59 RBI in just 46 games for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. He is near the top of nearly every offensive category in the Pacific Coast League and has played an impressive center field all season long.

For the Rockies, calling Gonzalez up is a problem of space. With the emergence of Dexter Fowler in center field, Gonzalez would have likely have to play in one of the corners.

At least for now, right fielder Brad Hawpe is not going anywhere.

That leaves left field, where there is a glut of players already vying for at-bats. Ryan Spilborghs has yet to prove he is anything more than a fourth outfielder this season while struggling at a .261 clip.

Seth Smith, Matt Murton, and Ian Stewart have also all picked up playing time. Unfortunately, none has done enough to warrant consideration for the starting job.

To get Gonzalez into the major league lineup, the first option may be to force him to the front of the line in left field. Manager Jim Tracy could return Spilborghs to his role as fourth outfielder, keep Smith around for his left-handed muscle, and send Murton back to Colorado Springs.  

If the Rockies continue to fall out of contention, however, the best option may be to ship Hawpe to the highest bidder. He has easily been the team’s most consistent and impressive bat, but there is a good chance his stock may never be higher after this season.

If the team could potentially pick up a quality young pitcher and perhaps an additional part for Hawpe, the team would have to consider its options, especially with his value so high.

Over the next month, Atlanta may emerge as a good fit, considering the Braves’ outfield has been awful all season long and the organization might have the young pitching talent necessary to get a deal done.

Hawpe is currently signed through next season at $7.5 million and has a club option for 2011.

At this point, the Rockies sit 13.5 games behind a Dodgers team that has shown no signs of letting up. The team is also 8.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the wild card. Such numbers don’t look good on June 2.

Anything can happen, but the next month will be telling for the underachieving Colorado Rockies. If the troubles keep mounting between now and early July, there is a good chance you’ll see other names besides Jason Marquis and Huston Street on Colorado’s must trade list.