Outside of Colorado this is a baseball story that won’t resonate much. Among those who know and follow the Rockies this story is a big deal.
Because of his father’s career with the Rockies and because of his own work ethic and general likability, buzz and excitement followed EY Jr. from the moment the team drafted him. Besides familiarity this excitement centered around the fact that he is really really ridiculously fast. If only he could have hit enough and found a spot on defense to terrorize his opponents with that speed.
Young Jr. was DFA’ed today. Image: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately he did neither. He also made far too many mistakes on the bases. Ultimately all of those factors meant that Young just never looked like a polished big league player. Even this season he looked like a raw talent who still needed to figure things out. At a certain point it seemed like that was never going to happen and it became impossible for the Rockies to justify keeping him around.
Part of the struggle with Young Jr. was his lack of a defensive position. He started at second base and then served primarily as an outfielder for the rest of his time with the franchise. That aforementioned speed wasn’t enough to turn him into even a serviceable defender. In the meantime his bat was never consistent: Young is a career .261 hitter. He does have 70 career stolen bases, which is a nice number for a guy off the bench but not nearly impactful enough to justify the decision to continue playing him ahead of Tyler Colvin or even Charlie Blackmon.
Put another way: in 57 games this season Young had 1 home run and 6 RBI. In two games this week Colvin had 2 home runs and drove in 6.
The timing of this otherwise inevitable move was necessitated by Jorge De La Rosa‘s bum finger. The team needed Chris Volstad, who has been starting for the AAA Sky Sox, to protect the bullpen in the even that De La Rosa’s night against the Washington Nationals was cut short. That’s the immediate reason. In the big picture it frees the team up to keep Colvin on the roster and eventually return either Blackmon or Josh Rutledge into the fold.
Eric Young Jr. leaves a number of fond memories, from his friendship with Jason Giambi in 2009 to his electric energy to his work ethic (#refuse2beignored) to his presence in the Denver community. It’s impossible not to cheer for the guy, but this was the move that had to made. While it is hard to see a favorite like Young go, it is refreshing to see that this year’s version of the Rockies is truly committed to making sure the best players play, even if that means making tough decisions like this one.