We are mere days away from pitchers and catcher reporting, and soon the questions surrounding the 2012 Rockies and their roster makeup will begin to be answered. Jim Tracy and the brain trust have numerous options to fill the few open roster spots available, and for Esmil Rogers, Josh Roenicke, Chris Nelson and Eric Young, Jr., the four players on the 40 man roster without minor league options, this is a very important camp.
With the recent acquisitions of young starters such as Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Chatwood, Josh Outman and company, Esmil Rogers seems to be finished as a starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies. If Rogers is to make the team it will likely be in the bullpen as the Rockies long reliever. The obstacle in the way of this happening would be if the Rockies decide to stash one of the odd men out of the rotation, someone like a Chatwood or Alex White, in the bullpen rather than sending them down to start games in pitching wasteland that is Colorado Springs and the PCL. It looked like Rogers was starting to figure things out with his 7 innings of 4 hit ball, striking out 7 and giving up one against the Pirates in his 2011 debut, but his season went downhill from there, giving up at least one earned run in all 18 of his 2011 appearances.
Josh Roenicke was selected off waivers from the Blue Jays in June and joined the Rockies bullpen in August, pitching in 19 games to finish out 2011. If he can pitch well in camp he should get a spot on the opening day roster, filling in an open spot left by the trades of Huston Street and Matt Lindstrom. Roenicke has good stuff and was seen as a potential closer early in his career, and if he can shed the control problems that have plagued his early career he can be a very effective piece of the bullpen.
At this point in his career Chris Nelson might be better off not making the team this year as he is fighting for little more than a utility role, something he is not really suited for. His career .254/.284/.376 slash line leaves little to get excited about, and it is starting to look like the former first round pick may never reach his potential. Both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference have his career WAR values below zero and his career OPS+ of 68 is slightly better than that of Jonathan Herrera. Herrera has a definite advantage over Nelson as he brings better on base skills and is a far superior defender. Herrera did receive an extra option this year, so if Nelson impresses in spring training he could stay with the team and Jonny would end up in AAA, but with Troy Tulowitzki and Marco Scutaro the sure starters Nelson might be better off trying to make a fresh start in a new organization.
The biggest hurdle for Eric Young, Jr. in making the roster might just be Jason Giambi. While they are not in contention for the same job, Giambi being basically a pinch hitter makes it hard to find room for a player who is basically a pinch runner. I still feel that Young’s best position is a second base, and the Rockies did him a disservice by trying to make him an outfielder, but the lack of a solid defensive position that he can be relied upon to play effectively really hurts his chances. There have been a few trade rumors focusing on Young, but I have a hard time believing teams would give up value to acquire a player that will likely not make the Rockies opening day roaster anyway.