Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2B for the Rockies

Today’s topic is Colorado Rockies, my favorite National League team. Some will roll their eyes and accuse me of jumping on the band wagon because of the Rockies’ amazing run to the World Series in 2007. Believe me, I am not a band wagon Rockies fan. Because of MLB’s convoluted territorial restrictions, the Colorado Rockies have been on television here in Utah for years. In the days before the MLB Extra Innings package, the Rockies were the only team I could follow day to day during the season. The primary broadcast team of Drew Goodman and George Frazier an excellent broadcasting team and the Rockies are fun to watch. Even though I can now watch most MLB games on DirecTV, I still watch the Rockies as much as I do the Angels and Royals.

Heading into spring training, there is only one open position in the Rockies lineup. Colorado must find a second baseman to replace Kaz Matsui who signed with the Astros this off season. During the off season there was discussion of moving third base prospect Ian Stewart to second but it now appears Jayson Nix, Brian Giles, Clint Barmes and Jeff Baker will battle for the position.

Rookie Jayson Nix is the front runner for the job and is the best choice for the job. I have seen Nix play several times when Colorado Springs visited Salt Lake City and he is a solid defender. He does a good job of turning the double play and has excellent range. His 2007 range factor of 5.96 for Colorado Springs was impressive considering that no other PCL second baseman had a range factor greater than 5.00. Nix’s fielding statistics confirm what I have observed; Jayson Nix is a solid defensive second baseman. Nix is an inconsistent hitter without much upside, but his glove will more than make up for his lack of offensive production.

It is reported in this morning Rocky Mountain News that Jeff Baker has emerged as Nix’s top competitor. It would be a huge mistake for the Rockies to play Baker at second base. Baker projects to be a better hitter than Nix, but in his entire professional career he has not played a single inning at second base. Second base is not a position where the Rockies should sacrifice defense for hitting. A lineup that features Garrett Atkins, Matt Holiday, Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Braw Hawp, and Willy Taveras is going to score a lot of runs. Because of the strength of their lineup, the Rockies can afford to carry a below average hitter at second base in exchange for quality defense. This makes Jayson Nix the best choice to man second base for the Rockies in 2008.

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