In the past few days the Rockies have signed Paul LoDuca and Jay Payton to minor league deals. They are reportedly going to watch Eric Gagne work out as well.
Rockies nation is up in arms. Comments on newspaper websites and popular Rockies blogs are full of confused fans. Why would the Rockies sign another catcher when they have two on the roster, one waiting in the wings in the form of Paul Phillips and two more top prospects on the farm named Mike McKenry and Wilin Rosario?
Why would the Rockies sign another outfielder when they already have a logjam in the big leagues?
Just relax everyone! These moves are strictly for depth.
Paul LoDuca will not be competing for the Opening Day job behind the plate. Eric Gagne will not be the closer on the Opening Day roster. Jay Payton will not be manning left field for the Rockies in 2010.
Rockies fans are being baptized in the next generation of success. That success brings them to a place where instead of signing the Jay Payton’s of the world and giving them a shot at cracking the 25 man roster, they can bring in a guy like that and plant him in Colorado Springs just in case the worst case scenario happens.
It is not smart to strictly rely on youthful talent. It is great to have two top prospects waiting to fill in behind the plate, but the fact is, the jump to the big leagues is a much larger jump than what most people would expect. One sure fire way to ruin a prospect is to throw them into the fire in the middle of a playoff race. To put that kind of pressure onto a 22 or 23 year old kid is not the smartest move, not only for the development of the player, but also for the team in the race.
Even though Mike McKenry would be a better player today than Paul LoDuca, the fact is, LoDuca has been in a playoff race before. He has had success at the big league level and would not be thrown into the deep end if, in fact, the Rockies need to call upon him.
There is no reason that the Rockies should not make these signings. If the players are indeed washed up, no big deal, simply cut them and send them on their way.
If they have a little bit left in the tank, give them a chance at the Triple-A level and if something major happens at the big league level, they become a stop-gap who has some experience on the big stage.