Second base was an extremely frustrating position for Rockies fans in 2011. Jose Lopez was signed in the offseason to be the starter there, and he did nothing but disappoint. After he was released in June, the position became a merry-go-round, and it was rare that the same guy started there two games in a row. Some stability there would be a reasonable goal for the Rockies in 2012, as well as some definitive answers about just who can and will play there in the future.
Scutaro was acquired from the Red Sox in exchange for pitcher Clayton Mortensen back in January, and the whole point of bringing him in was to have an everyday second baseman. Scutaro played shortstop for Boston, so he’s more than capable of working in the middle infield. He’s a little old (36), but who on this team isn’t? The good news about him is that he doesn’t seem especially injury-prone, so he might even get to play the position he was acquired to play. He’s had a bit of a tough spring offensively (just 6 hits and 4 RBI in 32 at-bats), but he’s also recorded 11 walks, and that’s very good, especially for a guy who is expected to hit near the top of the order. Depending on what happens with the struggling Dexter Fowler, Scutaro will hit 1st or 2nd in the lineup, and his career .357 on-base percentage suggests he will give Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki a run to drive in often enough.
Herrera got caught up in the merry-go-round last season and never was able to land consistent starts at second. Sometimes I wonder what we’d get out of him if he did start there regularly. He’s not an elite player, but he’s solid and he’s a professional. He’s proving that this spring, hitting .381 with 6 extra-base hits and 6 RBI in 42 at-bats. He has one option left, so there’s a chance he could get sent down at some point to make room for somebody who is more likely to play every day (such as Nolan Arenado), but he’s a reliable bat off the bench and can play most infield positions, so I think he’s worth keeping around for that. I wish we could find a place to put him every day just to see if he couldn’t produce a little more, but it always seems like there’s a slightly better option available, and Herrera once again gets shifted to the side.
What position does Chris Nelson play, anyway? He’s listed on the roster as a second baseman, but he stands a much better chance at getting to play third this season. And his defense is way better at third. He doesn’t come into the ball very well in the middle infield. So I’d prefer not to see him at second. But he can play there, if everybody else is dead, so technically he is an option.
The Ian Stewart trade brought over outfielder Tyler Colvin and LeMahieu, who is a good defender with offensive potential. He’s been sent down to the minors already, so he won’t break camp with the team, but I think he’s likely to stay on the 40-man and could be called up as a placeholder in case of injury during the season. He has very limited major league service time, but ultimately he could become a starting second baseman in the future once Scutaro’s day is done.
Who makes the 40-man: Scutaro, Herrera, Nelson, LeMahieu
Who makes the 25-man: Scutaro, Herrera, Nelson
Who starts opening day: Scutaro