This is the third of three articles looking at the Rockies at the trade deadline. The first one was on the bullpen, the second one was starting pitching. This article will look at position players and offense.
With the trade deadline coming up, teams are looking to improve and fill in holes in their lineups to make a playoff run. Where are the Rockies at right now, and what do they need?
After that terrible road trip last week, it was pretty obvious to many that the Rockies are certainly lacking on offense. They particularly are lacking when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position. The Rockies really need a right-handed bat, and one that could bat in the middle of the line up would be nice.
However, a closer look at the numbers will show that the Rockies are in the top four in the National League in home runs (105), top three in runs batted in (447), and third in the league in wOBA (.332). However, they are 13th out of 16 in the league in doubles, and third in the league in strikeouts. Offensively, it's been a mixed bag for the Rockies this season, which makes it hard to figure out exactly what their needs are.
According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post , owner Charlie Monfort implied that the Rockies could add payroll for the right situation.
First base: The Rockies have a major hole here. First base is traditionally an offensive position, and the Rockies have not had much production here. Todd Helton has been non-existent this season, and is now on the DL.
Filling in for Helton has been an even older Jason Giambi—who was supposed to be back-up and pinch-hitter—and now under-performing Brad Hawpe. Also playing first this year for the Rockies is anyone that walks by manager Jim Tracy's door when he happens to be filling out his lineup card.
The Rockies certainly need an everyday first baseman. The question is, if Helton doesn't retire, will he be a starter next year? Or, would he take a back-up, bench role? Do the Rockies bring in a starter, or a back-up type?
Of the names out there, I've heard the Rockies have had interest in free-agent-to-be Adam Dunn, as has every other team in the majors. The asking price so far has scared everyone away from the potential free agent.
Second Base: Jonathon Herrera has been a surprise, and with Tulowitzki coming back to play shortstop, freeing up Clint Barmes, the Rockies have plenty of depth at second, including Eric Young Jr, and Chris Nelson in AAA. For some reason, though, many Rockies fans see second as a position of need.
Third base: This isn't a screaming need or a hole with Ian Stewart playing at third. However, the Rockies are starting to get to the end of their patience with Stewart. He hasn't developed much this year, and his production isn't where they want him to be. He has several mechanical flaws in his swing, and has laughable pitch recognition.
Stewart's performance level is the type that doesn't help the team much, but it doesn't kill the team if the other positions are performing better. Stewart has 14 home runs and a line of .258/.343/.451/.794, but he does have 84 Ks on the year. The Rockies would like to have a right-handed bat that could play third and platoon with Stewart, a left-hander.
The Rockies seem to really be interested in guys who can play various positions at a near starter type level. Jim Tracy loves to mix and match, and play his entire bench (in every position conceivable). The more positions a player can play, the more computations of lineups Tracy gets to pull out of his hat. With questions at first and third for the Rockies, getting a guy that can play both would be nice.
Along those lines we have the two names the Rockies have been connected to the most, Ty Wigginton of the Baltimore Orioles and Jorge Cantu of the Florida Marlins.
Wigginton can play first, second, third, and some outfield. The right-handed hitting Wigginton will be 33 this fall, and has one more year on his current contract, paying him only $3.5 million. He's had 16 home runs so far this year, and a slash line of .249/.326/.443/.768.
Jorge Cantu is also a right-handed hitter who is "listed" as being able to play first, third, and second. However, he's a terrible fielder with a UZR of -4.8, though RZR/OOZ has him slightly better at .672/24.
Cantu is a glorified DH, carrying a glove. He has 10 home runs so far this season, to go with slash line of .260/.308/.410/.718. Cantu's contract will be up at the end of the season and he'll be a free agent, so he would be no more than a rental.
The Rockies seem to be in love with Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla. Uggla is 31 years old, and has 19 home runs this year with a .277 batting average. He's also a right-handed batter, which is something the Rockies need in their lineup.
However, Uggla doesn't want to move to either first or third, something the Rockies envision as he ages. Uggla has one more year of arbitration and will be eligible for free agency in 2012. The Marlins are also in love with Uggla and have no real desire to move him.
A new name that has popped up this week is Ryan Theriot of the Chicago Cubs. He's a middle infielder with some speed, having stolen 85 bases over the last four years. He still has a year of arbitration left where he should make about $4 million, which is less than Barmes, who should make $5 million in arbitration next year.
Why the interest in another middle infielders? Beats me, Chris Nelson is tearing it up in AAA and was a first round draft pick.
Not So Bold Prediction: The last two weeks left the Rockies as possible sellers or worse, in the vague middle ground, where they don't know if they are buyers OR sellers. Watch the news on Todd Helton. If his back keeps him from joining the team this week, or at least from going on a rehab assignment, the Rockies maybe forced to get a player that can play first base on a regular basis just to finish the season.
This Article also featured on The Rockies Reporter.