Is There Space For Wilin Rosario in Albuquerque?


Wilin Rosario is not happy about being sent to Albuquerque to learn first base. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Wilin Rosario is headed to Albuquerque to make space for pitching in Colorado after rough starting efforts that depleted the bullpen and he isn’t happy about it.

“I don’t feel good,” Rosario said. “I’d be lying to you if I said that. I need to be here. I’m playing at a big-league level.” Rosario realized why the move has to be made and is hopeful about getting back to Colorado quickly, “They need a couple pitchers this week. After that, I’ll be back.”

But is that an accurate estimate?

Nick Groke of the Denver Post noted that the Baby Bull is going to be the primary first baseman while in Albuquerque.

My first reaction to this was, “SAY WHAT?!?” How is he going to be able to play first? The Isotopes already have Ben Paulsen and Kyle Parker playing first base and both playing well. Yes they could play in the outfield with Paulsen already regularly in the outfield and Parker getting an occasional look but the Isotopes seem committed to veteran, Roger Bernadina, even though he is batting .188 with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs. Bernadina has played in all but two games.

So now what? Lets start with what we know: Rosario WILL play first base and will play every day. Why? Because the Rockies say so and they are the boss. You also have to take away that the Rockies do not believe in Drew Stubbs or their other options as replacements for Justin Morneau, if he were to get injured or traded.

Morneau had a fantastic 2014 but is off to an incredibly slow start in 2015 which also could be some of the reasoning to get Rosario ready to step in. Nick Hundley is also off to a career start at Catcher so the Rockies are looking to keep the magic going for another week or two.

Now what we don’t know: Will Paulsen and Parker see daily playing time in the Outfield? You would hope to see that. The issue is there is some traffic in the way.

Brandon Barnes is someone the Rockies want to see fully develop, because as Manager Glenn Alan Hill said earlier this year, he can rake. In twelve games, Barnes is hitting .282 with an OPS of .921. He has seen the second most at bats on the team, behind Cristhian Adams, and there is little chance that changes, nor should it.

Tim Wheeler has a .500 OBP. That’s right, he gets on base every other time he comes up to bat. Yes that’s the highest on the team. He also has the highest batting average of .417 and highest OPS of 1.417. Needless to say, he’s en fuego. He’s been in 11 of the 13 games for the Topes this year and he has been the hottest player on the team. He has absolutely owned upcoming opponent, Tacoma. From the Isotopes Press Release:

“Tim Wheeler might be the hottest of all the Isotopes currently. After his five RBI performance on Tuesday, he now has 11 RBI in his last five games. Wheeler finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two homers, a walk and five RBI. His first inning grand slam ignited the Albuquerque offense and was the Isotopes second grand slam in four games after Dustin Garneau’s slam at Reno on April 18. During his current five-game streak, Wheeler is batting .526 (10-for-19) with seven runs scored, two doubles, three homers, 11 RBI and three walks. Four of his five homers this season have been against the Rainiers.”

Wheeler appears to be a lock in the outfield for the near future. That’s 2 of the 3 spots filled.

So who covers the final spot? Parker, Paulsen, Bernadina, or super utility man Tim Smalling.

Parker has been cold this season only batting .170 but he has spent more time in the outfield. He also has great upside that the Rockies want to see. Tim Smalling is only hitting .263 and can play all over the diamond so he will probably find his playing time that way. Roger Bernadina is an old veteran that is the Rockies ‘bullet in the belt’ if they need him but his sub .150 batting average should hopefully help him find a bench seat while Rosario is up.

Ben Paulsen would be who you would hope to see take the 3rd and final spot. Again, from the Isotopes Press Release:

“Paulsen extended his hitting streak to a team season-longest 11 games with his 1-for-4 outing. During his streak, he is hitting .375 (15-for-40) with seven runs scored, four doubles, a homer, eight RBI and five walks. His best outing came at Reno when he posted a 4-for-4 showing with three runs scored, two doubles and three RBI. His streak also includes a pinch-hit home run on April 12 against the Aces at Isotopes Park.”

Paulsen, along with Adames, are the only two players to play in all thirteen games this season, either as a starter or pinch hitter. Paulsen’s .357 batting average and .961 OPS have earned him the playing time and hopefully the addition of Rosario doesn’t destroy that.

The good news is the Pacific Coast League uses the Designated Hitter anytime either club’s parent club is from the American League. Over the next month, The topes play nearly an even split between AL and NL parent club teams. This should mean more playing time for Paulsen or Parker, which ever is left out.

I understand the value that Rosario has to the Rockies as an every days player but adding him to first base and in doing so slowing the development of Paulsen and/or Parker is like the old adage, cutting off your nose to spite your face. You may help out your situation now but what damage are they doing to the long run of the Rockies and frankly this is a team who has to be looking at the long run.

Rosario has 48 hours to meet up with the Isotopes, which is in Tacoma until Saturday and then in Las Vegas. The Rockies may decide to have him wait and meet up with the Topes in Vegas but that decision is yet to be seen.

To help with the bullpen issues, the Rockies have added John Axford from the Restricted List and recalled Scott Oberg from the Isotopes for the second time this season.

The Isotopes come home on the 30th of April and I will be there. Follow me here on Roxpile and on twitter to get the latest news from inside ‘The Lab’ in Albuquerque.