Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rockies Sign Melvin Mora; Have Deepest Bench In Team History

On Sunday Melvin Mora agreed to a one-year deal with the Colorado Rockies. The move came the day after it became apparent that the Reds were going to sign Orlando Cabrera to be their everyday shortstop.

The fact is, the Rockies have the better player.

Mora is a two-time All-Star and owns a career .278 batting average as well as a .788 OPS (On base percentage plus slugging percentage). Not bad statistics for a guy who is looking at coming off the bench as a reserve. The thing about Mora, however, is that he may not end up coming off the bench.

The fact of the matter is, the Rockies are in love with Clint Barmes. Searching high and low in the Major Leagues will result in not finding a single player who works harder than Barmes. He is the consummate Charlie Hustle. His defense is second to none and he hit a career high 24 home runs in 2009. Barmes can hit anyone's fastball. However, he struggles with the slider.

This fact is one of the reasons why Barmes may find himself as a utility player heading into the 2010 season. The Rockies believe that Mora, a seasoned veteran at third base, is very able to play second base. Make no mistake, he will get his shot.

Whether Mora or Barmes ends up on the bench, there is no doubt that the Rockies have perhaps the toughest bench in the National League West, and undoubtedly the best bench in the history of the franchise.

Take a quick look. In the outfield the Rockies should have a left handed bat in Seth Smith, arguably the best pinch hitter in the game, and Ryan Spilborghs, a starter on at least a third of the teams in the league. In the infield Colorado will have a left handed power bat by the name of Jason Giambi, whose resume includes over 600 Major League home runs. Beyond Giambi the Rockies have either Mora, an everyday starter since 2000 who is one season removed from 104 RBI's. If Mora ends up starting, the Rockies have Barmes and his superb defense and 24 home runs. Behind the plate the Rockies have newly signed Miguel Olivo, another everyday starter in 2009 who worked behind the plate in every start of the American League Cy Young winner Zach Grienke.

It would be tough to find a deeper bench in the entire league. The Rockies front office should be applauded for the job that they have done to round out the roster this offseason. In fact, the bench is so deep that highly thought of prospect Eric Young Jr., will most likely find himself back in Triple-A, Colorado Springs in order to get him everyday playing time.

The Rockies enter an era that most fans are not used to. Having to make tough decisions with guys who are fan favorites like Clint Barmes, and guys who are most likely ready for playing time at the big league level like EY Jr. is something new to this club. However, it is a sign of how far the team has come.

No longer is being fun to watch good enough, no longer is simply being a hard worker good enough to play every day. This team is talented, and everyone will be forced to play at the highest level possible in order to remain in the everyday lineup. That is something that teams who are playing meaningful games in September all have in common.

On paper the 2010 Rockies should be very good. It would be an extreme disappointment if this team is not in the playoff picture come September.

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