In case you needed a different way to put the Colorado Rockies’ situation at catcher into context, just consider how relieved you are to see Michael McKenry behind the plate on any given night instead of Wilin Rosario.
McKenry is a fine player, and his offense has certainly been a pleasant surprise this season, but he is not the answer behind the plate anymore than Rosario. It’s just that Rosario has been so bad that anything resembling average defense at catcher is a welcome sight.
Anybody who watches or follows the Rockies has known for a while now that the team needs to find a different answer at catcher. That situation is complicated by the promise that Rosario’s powerful right-handed bat offers, but it is still an obvious problem. The team even tacitly admitted as much last off-season when they pursued free agents Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz.
Patrick Saunders addressed this issue in his column on Sunday morning. What is different about the opinion offered by Saunders in the Denver Post is the fact that it comes with observations from within the Colorado locker room. This only goes to emphasize that this is a change that simply must be made.
He has made strides as a catcher. Rosario and lefty Jorge De La Rosa, the club’s best pitcher, smoothed things out after a rough beginning this season and are now on the same page. As one pitcher told me, Rosario has made “incremental improvements each season, but not that big leap.”
Rosario still doesn’t work cleanly behind the plate. In 2012, he had 13 errors and 21 passed balls in 105 games. He improved in 2013, committing nine errors and cutting the passed balls to nine in 106 games. But this season, in 83 games, he has 12 passed balls and six errors.
Rosario has been diligent about studying scouting reports and learning about opposing hitters, but the in-game rhythm that forms a bond between the pitcher and catcher remains lacking.
Right-handed power is hard to find in today’s big leagues. That makes me think that trading Rosario might be a very realistic option, and probably one the Rockies should have gotten serious about in the midst of the urgency felt by teams at the trade deadline. As noted on Rox Pile this weekend, there is no other logical fit for Rosario within the Rockies’ organization if you are trying to have him switch positions to solve this problem.
The man known as the “Baby Bull” still has value to the Rockies; that value should come in the form of a trade in which they flip him, get value for him, and pursue a steadier option at catcher.