Guys actually step up
An offseason after the 94-win wonder prediction, Monfort and Jeff Bridich addressed the media after trading their gone-too soon third baseman to St. Louis in one of the most depressing press conferences for Rockies fans in a long list to choose from. In a very quotable conference (including this fine line), Monfort said the following:
"“I believe we’re shorter [on] talent than we were a year ago. But we’ve got a lot of guys that, to be quite honest, it’s time to cut bait. This could be the challenge that they need. This could be: They need to step up and fill in this void.”"
Well, bait was cut alright when they let David Dahl, a year removed from an All-Star bid, inexplicably walk for nothing leaving the outfield depth even lighter especially with the news of Ian Desmond sitting out for the second season due to the pandemic. That leaves Charlie Blackmon, Raimel Tapia, Garrett Hampson, Sam Hilliard, and Yonathan Daza at the top of the outfield depth chart. First off Charlie can do no wrong, even if he goes 0-for-600 at the plate. He’s similar to Samson in that, if you cut his hair, or in this case, beard, that’s the only way he could lose all of his superpowers.
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Tapia had the most promising year of his career last season, hitting .321 with nearly one win above replacement. Considering he has a -0.7 career WAR, this is a welcomed sign. The sample size wasn’t a lot with 52 games. However, with the stability of a full season and knowing he is an everyday player, hopefully that can translate into a legitimate leadoff hitter. He benefited from Desmond sitting out last season. Maybe he can do it all over again.
As for filling the big gap in center, Hampson seems to be the top candidate followed by Hilliard and Chris Owings. Hampson isn’t the prototypical height to keep up in the expansive Coors Field center field next to prototypes like Blackmon (6’3″), Dahl (6’2″), Carlos Gonzalez (6’1″), Dexter Fowler (6’5″), or even Tapia (6’3″). In 2019, Hampson was among those who had the unenviable task of replacing DJ LeMahieu at second base when he (again) inexplicably walked for nothing to to the Yankees. Hampson wasn’t the full-time answer at second, but he has the most center field starts on the roster outside of Chuck Nazty and stepped up once Dahl went down with another injury. They’re really going to need him to do the same again this year.
Now to the infield. Ryan McMahon is never going to fill the giant Shaq-size shoes out at third. That’s okay. Brendan Rodgers is never going to fill the same size shoes at second. That’s okay. But McMahon is back at his natural position and the second base gig is solely Rodgers, once he returns from a hamstring injury. Consistency return for these two and that translates into their best seasons in the big leagues. They’ll develop into solid depth for the Rockies infield.