It’s tiresome to even write it anymore. It is literally the least unique analysis you could possibly offer about the current iteration of the Colorado Rockies, even if it does ring true:
It is said so often because it is true. But I am wondering if it needs to be modified to read as follows:
Troy Tulowitzki, Nolan Arenado, and Carlos Gonzalez must stay healthy.
Is Nolan Arenado now the second-most important member of the Rockies?
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There might not be a simple answer. Arenado has only shown that he can consistently hit for two months; CarGo has done it for his entire career. CarGo is an MVP candidate when everything clicks; Arenado is not, at least not yet.
CarGo is certainly the better player. This is more a matter of the current construction of the Rockies’ roster.
If CarGo goes down, something that seems to constantly be a possibility as he deals with a bum knee and some especially fragile fingers, the Rockies can tap into their outfield depth to replace his production.
They can use Corey Dickerson more, they can platoon Drew Stubbs into more center field playing time, and they can use Brandon Barnes against left-handed pitchers. This team is still better with CarGo, but they could reasonably make up for his lengthy absence from the lineup.
Now consider the options at third base now that the Rockies lost Arenado for 4-6 weeks (at a minimum). Charlie Culberson is almost the very definition of a replacement-level player at -0.7 WAR. DJ LeMahieu could play third, an option that is likely the most palatable as it creates at-bats for Josh Rutledge. There is also the bad option of playing Michael Cuddyer some at third base. And what else? Ryan Wheeler? The options are not great.
No matter what happens, as long as Arenado is out the Rockies are losing the elite defense on the left side of the infield that has set them apart from the rest of the league.
CarGo is a gold glove player but the versatile and athletic options behind him do not represent a huge drop-off defensively.
That excellent outfield depth, that horrible infield depth, and the emergence of Arenado might just have made the young third baseman the second-most important member of the Colorado Rockies.