|Wilin Rosario has been far better than expected offensively.|
At this point, the Rockies are simply playing out the schedule. Focusing on winning baseball games is easy to forget about when the offseason plans are just a few short weeks away.
However, this Rockies team must take the opportunity to get better. The games they are playing right now might not mean much in the standings, or in the grand scheme of things, but this is the time when players need to hone their skills and get polished when the standings even out again in April of 2013.
In anticipation of that, the Rockies need to stand behind rookie catcher Wilin Rosario. Jim Tracy recently made comments to the Denver Post about Rosario's struggles behind the plate. There is no doubt about the fact that the Dominican has tons of talent, but his defensive skills need to be refined before he reaches the height of his skills.
Tracy talked about Rosario's struggles following his five passed-ball day on Sunday, four of which came in the second game of the doubleheader.
There is no problem with Tracy acknowledging Rosario's troubles. However, the problem comes when the team decides to remove confidence from their 23-year-old catcher by punitively removing him from the lineup.
It would be fine if Tracy felt that Rosario needed a few days off in a row to give him a mental break, or for him to watch from the bench and slow things down. That wasn't the case, however, as Tracy made it clear that he would be on the bench because of the passed balls.
The reality is, the Rockies young catcher has been everything that anyone could have expected, and much more. In the offseason, it was well known that Rosario was ready offensively for the big leagues, but would need time to get his defense ready for the big leagues.
Instead of allowing Rosario to refine his defense in Triple-A, the team decided to make him the backup catcher on the big league roster on Opening Day. That meant that he wouldn't see Triple-A, and that he would learn on the job, presumably behind veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez.
It didn't take long before the 38-year-old Hernandez was injured and Rosario was forced into action.
For all of his defensive struggles, Rosario has been phenomenal at the plate. In 347 plate appearances, he has logged 23 home runs, two shy of the Rockies rookie record, and has 60 RBIs.
Keep in mind that the jump from Double-A to the big leagues is difficult for anyone, but especially a catcher. The mental side of catching is difficult, but add in adjusting to big league pitching at the plate and Rosario's task was no easy one. The fact that the offense has been so good is a huge positive for the Rockies.
At some point, Rosario's defense must start to get better. He must improve defensively very quickly. However, telling the media that he will be on the bench until he improves isn't the way to build confidence in a young catcher who probably should have had at least the first 50 games of the season in Triple-A to refine his craft.
What the Rockies need to do with Rosario is to continue to encourage his defense, but publicly acknowledge how good he has been for them on offense. Building his confidence, while quietly working on his defense is going to be the best route to get the necessary improvement from the best catcher that the club has ever brought to the big leagues.
The Rockies have something special in Rosario. What they asked of him was no small task, yet he has answered the call, and been even better than they could have expected. The last thing they need to do is discourage him by punishing him for not being as good defensively as he needs to be. After all, the Rockies didn't exactly allow him to complete his progression in the minor leagues before his jump to the big leagues.
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