Think back to what feels like the last 10 Rockies seasons (in actuality, the last 5). You know who always ends up being a lot more important than you thought he would be?
Whether because of injury or because of underachieving players, Herrera always ends up playing a lot. Taking high leverage at-bats, starting games, and so on…
Herrera is easy to cheer for in that he plays hard, goes about his business, and was childhood friends with Carlos Gonzalez. Also, he is really good at bunting. Seriously. Really, really good at bunting.
We love his story and we love his personality, which has made it a little bit difficult to admit that the Rockies have long been overdue for an upgrade in that spot on the roster.
Such was the excitement about the above-average play of DJ LeMahieu last season, and such is the potential importance of former Ray Reid Brignac. We can cross our fingers that we do not need a utility infielder to play an enhanced role, but somehow it always seems to happen that way (ahem, shortstop anybody?).
Due to circumstance as much as anything, it looks like Brignac will “win” the job because he is out of options and would have to clear waivers. LeMahieu and Herrera both still have minor league options left (and in the case of the latter, that is utterly baffling). All three are valuable, and the Rockies can keep all three around by starting the season with Brignac on the Rockies and the other two on the Sky Sox.
Brignac has been solid this year in the Cactus League, posting a .292 average with 1 HR and 7 RBI. The numbers were not enough to overwhelm the Rockies into giving him the job, but they are enough to make them comfortable with him there. As a former second round pick, he might also have the highest ceiling of the group. The Rockies need him to play solid defense and provide a little bit of pop when he is in the lineup. He needs to be less of a drop-off than previous back-ups in the middle of the infield (got nothing but love for Herrera…the truth hurts).
In previous seasons the Rockies have enjoyed a loaded bench; this year they need Reid Brignac to help continue that trend.