What Should The Colorado Rockies Do With Drew Stubbs?


Apr 23, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies center fielder Drew Stubbs (13) during the game against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Stubbs has struggled mightily this season with the Colorado Rockies, but the club may have no choice but to let him ride out the cold streak in hopes that he will find his way in Denver. 

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Drew Stubbs had a really, really bad spring. He struck out 25 times in 50 at-bats, getting a meager 10 hits (but also 10 walks) while facing less-than-big-league pitching much of the time down at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Then, during the regular season in very limited playing time, he just hasn’t been much better, striking out 16 times in his first 27 plate appearances, while only getting one hit (a solo home run!), reaching base one other time on a walk, and once more on an error. It doesn’t take a genius to know a .040/.077/.160 slash line and a -39 OPS+ are, um, bad.

But what can the Rockies do with their fourth outfielder, who went through arbitration this winter and is making $5.83 million this season to back up Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon, and Carlos Gonzalez around the outfield?

Unfortunately, I just don’t think there are many viable options within the organization to replace him right now, and I’ll run through that below. Before I do that, though – and before you read on – I want you to vote on what should be done with Stubbs. (Basically, I want to know what you think – I don’t want my thoughts below to cloud your own opinion.)

Ok. Thank you for indulging me. So, the way I see it, there are a few options with Stubbs.

Let him ride it out. I know, it’s not a popular option considering his numbers (but he did hit that homer!), but he (a) has very, very, very little trade value right now, and (b) you’d think a big leaguer in his seventh year is not going to hit .040 all season, so these numbers will correct markedly, and very soon. This is just 25 at-bats, after all – not a small slump, but a slump nonetheless – and if you take at face value that he’s working through it diligently, as the ROOT Sports broadcasters have alluded to during games, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t overcome the slump.

Trade him. Well… for what? The Drew Stubbs of 2014 was a valuable piece, and teams like the Seattle Mariners came calling about him last July. Now? Well, I can’t imagine there’d be any demand for him. When he’s on, he’s a valuable outfielder. Remember, this is a guy who hit 22 doubles, 15 home runs, and stole 20 bases last season; those skill sets don’t come around in every outfielder. But he needs to rebuild a lot of value before the Rockies could make any trade for him that would return anything worth acquiring.

Designate him for assignment. If things get really bad, I suppose this is an option, but it’d be a fair amount of money to eat for getting absolutely nothing in return, and I have to believe if the Rockies are going to part ways with Stubbs, they’d like to do so at least getting something back for him, even if only an “organizational depth” player.

Brandon Barnes. Barnes isn’t tearing the cover off the ball in hitter-friendly Albuquerque, slashing just .239/.300/.435 after his first 100 plate appearances, and striking out 22 times against AAA pitching. He does have four home runs and six doubles, though, and he could play all three outfield positions so he’d fit the bill as a fourth outfielder if he were to replace Stubbs.

Kyle Parker. Parker is doing almost as badly as Stubbs, striking out 30% of the time and slashing just .157/.247/.265 in 95 Albuquerque plate appearances. After flirting with .300 last year in AAA Colorado Springs and making his big league debut, Parker’s taken a step back to start the season, and wouldn’t profile as a good replacement option right now. Add to that, of course, the fact that Parker can’t play center field, which would be necessary in any Stubbs replacement coming off the bench.

Ben Paulsen. Paulsen’s done well enough at the plate in AAA this season, but he doesn’t play center field and really has limited outfield experience overall. The Isotopes have tried him in left and right, but he’s mostly played first base and wouldn’t be a good utility outfield option.

Matt McBride. McBride has started slowly offensively with the ‘Topes, but more importantly, he has the Paulsen problem, playing too much first base and corner outfield positions. I suppose, in McBride, Parker, and Paulsen’s cases should any be called up to replace Stubbs, either CarGo or Dickerson (ugh) could play center field to give Blackmon a respite on certain days, but… probably not.

Roger Bernadina. Well… he doesn’t hit much, but he walks a lot, gets on base, and has played a lot of center field. He’s a left-hander, though, which if he were to be called up to replace Stubbs, would give the Rockies four left-handed hitting outfielders, and I have to believe the team wants to have at least one right-hander for certain match-ups.

Tim Wheeler. Wheeler might be the Rockies’ best option, hitting .282/.386/.535 in Albuquerque across his first 85 plate appearances with 5 home runs and ten walks against just fifteen strikeouts. Wheeler has also played 398 games in center field in the minor leagues, and another 126 in left and 134 in right, so he’d profile as a utility outfielder. As with Bernadina, though, Wheeler is a left-handed bat.

As you can see, the options don’t exactly spark confidence. Wheeler may be the Rockies’ best overall option from Albuquerque based on current performance, with Barnes having the inside shot thanks to his track record.

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And, the club could always look outside the organization for outfield help if they so choose, though with the three starters as they are it seems like a low priority move to trade for a bench outfielder.

As much as Stubbs is struggling, and as much as I’d like to see the Rockies have a bench outfielder who can hit, I think you’re looking at Stubbs sticking around with the big league club for at least a few more weeks as he tries to break out of the slump.

The bottom line is, the Rockies need a fourth outfielder who can play all three positions and preferably bat right-handed. Besides Brandon Barnes and an unlikely trade, there just aren’t many within the organization.