Carlos Gonzalez‘s position in the field will change once again. In a development that has been discussed minimally, if at all, Walt Weiss announced on Wednesday that the Colorado Rockies will shift CarGo over to right field full time upon his return from a finger injury.
This news is the latest step in a story that has many chapters at this point; most of them previously involved alternating between situations where he rotated around the different spots and times when he has played only one spot. He has been settled into left field full time since the days of Jim Tracy as manager, though there were fleeting grumblings this past off-season that he would move over to center field after the team traded Dexter Fowler.
Weiss said the following about the move (quotes from MLB.com):
“He’s a guy that can play anywhere out there,” Weiss said. “He’s a very talented outfielder, and he has played all three.”
There are three aspects to this decision that seem noteworthy:
1. More playing time for Corey Dickerson
This was one of the main motivating factors for the move. Dickerson, who has improved immensely as a defender in his short time in the big leagues, is going to do much better in left field. His defensive skills are limited, though he does hold his own in center field when he has to. Still, it makes sense to have left field be the spot where he can play regularly.
The Rockies need Dickerson’s bat in the lineup…all the time. Everyday. The dude is batting .327/.392/.589 with a 156 wRC+. I know that the Rockies have lots of good outfielders, but nobody else hits like Dickerson. Moving CarGo to right helps free up those at-bats.
2. Setting CarGo up for success
Back when Tracy made the decision to play CarGo in left full-time, it was motivated in large part by the fact that left is gigantic at Coors Field. CarGo could help Fowler cover that big gap and help the pitchers out. The unfortunate reality of the current situation is that CarGo hasn’t looked like that super-athletic, rangy outfielder for a while now. Time on the shelf might have helped CarGo’s knee tendinitis quiet down a little bit, but the fact remains that covering a lot of ground is not necessarily one of his strengths anymore.
You know what is a strength? His arm…his ridiculous rocket of a throwing arm. Weiss discussed that aspect of the decision on Wednesday:
“He profiles well as a right fielder, prototypical, really…But with the size of our outfield, there’s a case for him to be roaming that spacious left field and left-center, too.”
CarGo will still cover enough ground to be good and make some nice plays in that regard, but his best chance to have an impact defensively is by throwing people out and preventing them from taking extra bases. He will have more chances to do so in right field.
3. Setting up a trade
You know who else plays right field? Michael Cuddyer. Acknowledging the fact that Cuddyer will not be back for a significant amount of time yet, the fact remains that this could logically be seen as step one in a process that will eventually result in a trade that sends either CarGo or Cuddy to another team.
In Cuddyer’s case, he might be on his way out of town either way. In CarGo’s case, that could be the shake-it-up, acknowledge the rebuild trade. Either way, the Rockies are looking at an outfield in 2015 and beyond that has Dickerson in left, Charlie Blackmon in center, Brandon Barnes as a sub, and an unknown player in right field. That’s not to mention their pending decision with Drew Stubbs when he hits free agency.
For my part, and this is purely a gut instinct, I think this is step one in moving on from CarGo. It could be a temporary stop while the team plays out the rest of July if a deal comes together before the 31st. With his return Friday, he has enough time to play and re-establish his value to a contender.
If Cuddyer is out even longer and the Rockies feel they are better positioned to trade CarGo this winter, then this would settle Dickerson into his spot in left and then allow the Rockies to start talking with teams like the Red Sox or the Mets.
CarGo will be in right field Friday night against the Minnesota Twins. It will be interesting to see what this signals for the Rockies and how quickly we might see the overhaul get started.