Colorado Rockies: We Need to Talk About Carlos Gonzalez
By Kevin Henry
We need to have a talk about Carlos Gonzalez and the role he is playing with the Colorado Rockies. It’s not a fun talk, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that it’s a necessary talk.
Let’s get this out of the way before we go any further in the discussion. CarGo is a great player, a great person and a great leader in the clubhouse. No one is denying any of those things. However, his current slump is hurting the Rockies in a big way. It’s hard to deny that as well.
Gonzalez enters Wednesday’s game in San Diego with a .207 average. He has two homers and six RBI on the season. Of his 92 at-bats this season, 22 have ended in a strikeout. That includes a big two-out strikeout in Tuesday night’s loss to the Padres when the Rockies had the bases full in the top of the eighth.
That’s been part of the problem this season so far from CarGo. He’s batting .087 with runners in scoring position. When you’re batting cleanup with Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado in the lineup ahead of you, that average has to be higher. Those hitting machines have to be plated when the opportunity arises.
Trust me, I know CarGo has been in this situation before. Take a look at this tweet from Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
In years past, the Rockies have needed CarGo and his bat to break out of a slump to provide an offensive spark. This, however, is a different Colorado team.
So what options are there? There’s three really.
1. Bench CarGo
This is the least likely of the three but it’s possible. With Ian Desmond back from injury, the Rockies have the opportunity to move him into left field and shift Gerardo Parra over to right when the situation calls for it. This lineup tweak could strengthen the lineup (allowing Mark Reynolds to play first base) and give CarGo a day or two off.
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2. Move CarGo down in the lineup
This seems like the most logical lineup tweak. You can’t have someone barely hitting above .200 into the first week of May in such a critical position. Let Reynolds ride his hot bat in the four hole and provide a spark. Move Desmond into the three hole in the lineup and shift Arenado down. There are lots of options here, but seeing CarGo hitting sixth or seventh until he gets his swing back would strengthen the top of the order.
3. Keep CarGo where he is
Because of his stature with the team and the thought that “he’s going to break out of the slump any minute now,” this is probably what we will see for the next few days. However, if Gonzalez continues to struggle, the other two options need to be examined.
Hanging over the Rockies and CarGo is the thought that no news has been given on a potential contract extension. The timing of CarGo’s slump couldn’t be worse, both in terms of his own financial future and stability as well as Colorado trying to keep its hands on the lead in the National League West.
Next: How Reynolds and Desmond Boost Each Other at First Base
Carlos Gonzalez has done some amazing things on the field for the Rockies over the last nine seasons. He’s provided some highlight reel plays and tape measure home runs. However, things need to be seen in the present for the 31-year-old Rockies icon. That makes any kind of change more difficult. But the right move isn’t always the easiest move.