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Colorado Rockies Begin Fall Tryouts

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Colorado Rockies Begin Fall Tryouts
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If you thought the Colorado Rockies still had a shot at the playoffs, that the numbers were still good in spite of recent struggles, the Rockies went on this last road trip...and eliminated all doubt.

The Rockies scored a measly eight runs in six games and looked like a team that was dreaming of golf and hunting trips.

Rockies “hitting coach” Don Baylor looked like someone who was short-timing it. A complete lack of interest came across as completely unprofessional. In effect, his unwillingness to even lift a finger and the abandonment of his responsibilities have left Jason Giambi as the Rockies' acting hitting coach.

In a particularly rough at-bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with two runners on, Carlos Gonzalez was obviously pressing and struck out. Frustration was on his face and in his body language. Half of baseball, as they say, is 90 percent mental. Someone needed to get the young budding superstar off a wrong mental track. That is a job for the batting coach.

However, Baylor hung on the dugout rail and made no move. In fact, Baylor looked half asleep. It was Giambi that the cameras caught giving a quick pep talk to CarGo.

Don Baylor has mentally quit on this team. It’s no surprise the players are starting to follow his lead.

The Colorado Rockies are officially done for 2010. Thanks for coming out. Thanks for the memories. See ya next spring at the Rox' new spring training complex, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, a $115 million facility being built near Scottsdale, Arizona and funded by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

HEY WAIT A SECOND...there’s a month of baseball left!

OK, OK...there is a month of baseball left, and that’s better than watching soccer any day. So what do we, the Rockies fans and the Rockies organization in general, have to look forward to?

Player evaluation, that’s what!

Unlike last year, the Rockies are not in a playoff race anymore, and they have lots of questions about the roster and players going forward into 2011. Part of answering those questions is for the Colorado Rockies to take a look at and evaluate the players they have in their minor leagues—who can help them and fill holes in 2011, which players need further development, and who need to be played and shown off to build up trade value.

Who are some of the players the Rockies are going to look at over the next month? A few moves have already been made, and many more players will be here at the end of the week when rosters expand on September 1st.

Position Players

Eric Young Jr., 2B/OF

EY2 has already been called up. He’ll get regular starts at second base. His bat has never been a question, nor has his speed. The questions surrounding Young Jr have always regarded his glove. If he can’t defend at 2B, does that mean his future is in the outfield? Or is he traded to open up the position for Chris Nelson or Hector Gomez?

Seth Smith, OF

Seth Smith has been on the Rockies' team for the last three years. Smith has been used as a pinch hitter and as a backup OF. When outfielders have gone down with injuries, Smith and right-handed hitter Ryan Spilborghs have platooned in left field. Last year Seth batted .293/.378/.510, but this year he’s regressed to .261/.325/.488.

This next month, the Rockies will give Smith a long look to see if he can be a full-time starter in the outfield. Questions abound around Smith, like whether he can hit left-handed pitching: .152/.167/.196 this year against left-handed pitchers.

Fielding is also a question for Smith, as he’s got neither range nor a cannon arm. He is a typical left fielder, which would be fine, but with Coors Field having a large left field, Smith may not be good enough defensively to man left field on an everyday basis for the Rockies in 2011.

Can Smith be an everyday starter? Will he get better with regular playing time, or will he get exposed?

Michael McKenry, C

McKenry is a catcher in AAA who every spring is labeled as the best defensive catcher in the Rockies organization, including the majors. The question is if he can even hit enough to be a major-league backup. In AAA Colorado Springs this year he only hit .266 with a .327 OBP. I mean, can he hit at all in the bigs?

He’s been compared a lot to former Rockies catcher Danny Ardoin, as a guy that's great in the field but might struggle to hit .200 in the big leagues.

It’s looking more and more like Chris Iannetta will be a trade chip for the Rockies, and his name has come up in connection to the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals. Can McKenry be a backup catcher for the Rockies in 2011?

Chris Nelson, 2B/SS

Nelson, another 2B, was moved over from SS, his natural position. He is having a major league season at Colorado Springs. The former No. 1 draft pick out of high school in Georgia has battled growing pains and injuries. At one point he was almost written off as a prospect. Now the Rockies have to find out if they can use Nelson or whether he’s a trade chip.

 

Jonathan Herrera, 2B/INF

Seeing a trend? Yep, another middle infielder and 2B. Herrera had plenty of starts at second this year when Troy Tulowitzki was hurt and Clint Barmes moved over to play SS. Herrera did surprisingly well and drew a lot of praise from manager Jim Tracy.

The question is, can Herrera play enough other infield positions to be the Rockies' utility guy for next year? Look for Herrera to get starts at 3B and SS over the next month.

Matt Miller, OF

Miller isn’t a big-time prospect; in fact, he’s already 27 years old. He’s at his career peak right now. However, he put up some amazing numbers at AAA with a line of .327/.405/.444/.849.

Miller is not on the current 40-man roster, so if the Rox' want to take a look at him, they will have to make a move on the 40-man. There’s been some talk that Miller could be a fourth outfielder type. We’ll know more about what the Rockies think of Miller if they give him a look in September.

Charles Blackmon, OF

I don’t expect Blackmon to get the call this fall, but he might, so he’s worth noting. He’s not on the 40-man roster right now. Blackmon was one of those athletic guys that teams hope puts it all together, and it looks like he has this year in AA Tulsa. Blackmon has a .304/.384/.500 line with 10 homers and 18 stolen bases. Blackmon is a five-tool guy that is projected to be a major league player.

This fall may be a year too early, as I’d expect Blackmon to be in AAA next year, but the Rockies might like to give the 24-year-old a cup of coffee, especially with a potential opening in the Rockies' OF with Brad Hawpe moving on.

I’ll look at the pitching situation in a day or two.

This article is also featured on The Rockies Reporter and on My Team Rivals: Rockies

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