Jim Tracy had a hard time making up his mind about which player he wanted in which outfield spot last year. Let’s hope that those positions can remain relatively stable in 2012, if only to increase the chances of some much-deserved Gold Gloves being awarded. No one seemed to know what to do with a guy who could play in all three spots when the GG’s were made position-specific last season.
Cargo was the Gold Glove casualty since he logged too many games at each position to be labeled by any one. Let’s cross our fingers that he’s able to stick with left field in 2012, if only so he can get the recognition he deserves. Regardless of where he winds up playing, though, Cargo is a major offensive asset. He had some trouble finding his stride last season, but he got it back, and he finished the year with a solid-if-unspectacular .295 average, 26 home runs, and 92 RBI. If he hadn’t crushed his wrist against the outfield wall in July and then rushed his rehab a little, those numbers would have been much better, and his slugging percentage certainly would have been way over .526. Cargo very desperately needs to stay healthy in 2012 so he can contribute. He’s having a good spring at the plate, with 16 RBI, and so if he can start stronger than he did in 2011 he has every chance of being right in the MVP race like he was in 2010. But he has to play the better part of the season, and he can’t do that if he sacrifices his body to make a catch, which he’s prone to do. If he can stay off the DL, however, he’ll be second only to Troy Tulowitzki in terms of his worth to the team, both offensively and defensively. And if he can keep himself from slumping, he’ll spend the season in the 3-hole.
I desperately want Blackmon on the opening day roster, but he’s dealing with a toe injury and hasn’t been able to play much this spring. He’s only logged 30 at-bats and a blah .277 average. Another downside for him is that he hits from the left side, which is the case with too many other outfielders. I have a feeling he’s going to be edged off the active roster by the players listed below, even though I think he’s better than both of them. But once he gets healthy again, I think he will almost certainly spend some time in the majors this season, whether helping out because of injury or coming in off the bench.
Colvin came to the team in the Ian Stewart trade, but he’s not going to replace Stewart because he’s an outfielder. He’s performed best among possible outfield candidates this spring, hitting .385 with 9 extra-base hits and a team-leading 18 RBI in 65 at-bats. He’s been virtually a lock for the opening day roster thanks to these numbers, which show that he can do more than he was doing for the Cubs before they traded him.
Eric Young Jr.
I don’t really understand why we’re still calling EYJ an outfielder, but that’s where Jim Tracy wants to play him, and it’s been quite a while since he’s spent any time at second base, his old position. He’s not really very good at either, but the outfield tests his arm strength in a way that isn’t fair to him or the team. His glove work isn’t great, but at least in the infield he doesn’t have to throw the ball as far. Regardless, logic doesn’t seem to be operating in this scenario, so we must consider EYJ an outfielder since that’s what the team thinks of him as. He’s having a good spring, hitting .308 with 5 RBI and 6 stolen bases in 39 at-bats, and he’s made the team as a fifth outfielder.
Who makes the 40-man: Gonzalez, Blackmon, Colvin, Young
Who makes the 25-man: Gonzalez, Colvin, Young
Who starts on opening day: Gonzalez