Tyler Colvin is starting the season in Colorado, but not with big league team.
In an unexpected move, the Rockies optioned the 27-year-old to their Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. However, it’s not suspected Colvin will stay in the minors for long.
Although he’s blocked from a starting job by outfields Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer, Colvin’s versatility to play all three outfield position, and first base, should be enough to bring him back to the bigs on a bad team.
In the meantime, the Rockies think regular at-bats will help Colvin improve on the rough numbers he posted in the Cactus League this spring:
.167 (8-for-48), 14 K, 18 games.
Cubs fans seem to have difficulty letting go of the Colvin trade (Dec. 2011) because neither RHP Casey Weathers (Colorado’s 1st Rd pick in 2007) or Ian Stewart have panned out with Chicago.
But Colvin hasn’t reached the potential many saw with him in 2010: 20 HRs, 56 RBI in 135 games. His biggest obstacle, in Chicago and Denver, in establishing himself as a starter has been a continuous struggle with hitting for contact.
2010: 100 K, 25-perent of plate appearances.
2011: 58 K, 26-percent of plate appearances.
2012: 117 K, 26-percent of plate appearances.
Granted Colvin has shown plenty of pop at the plate (.858 OPS in 2012), he strikes out far too often, whiffing at a clip of once every 3.6 at-bats in his career.
That certainly had to be one reason why Jed Hoyer traded Colvin in the first place; he’s not a player who fits the organization’s grind-it-out plate mentality. But the other reason Hoyer made the move was to replace Aramis Ramirez at third base, and Stewart was expected to be the everyday starter, which obviously takes precedent over a swing-happy fourth outfielder.
If we have to choose a winner in the trade it’s Colorado because of the inclusion of DJ LeMahieu, who was packaged with Colvin, and served a bench role as a backup infielder with the Rockies last season. Weathers, on the other hand, went (4-2, 6.62) in 31 games with the Cubs Double-A affiliate in 2012.
Realistically, however, neither side benefited greatly from the trade, and the evaluation could change entirely if Stewart finally has the breakout season the Rockies always expected, and the Cubs have been waiting for.
Besides, the Cubs already have their own left-handed batting outfielder with good pop and a knack for striking out. And Brett Jackson may have a greater upside than Colvin does anyway.
Opening day is 18 short days away. On a more somber note, here’s a look at three Cubs players having a tough go of it this spring.
Two are battling injuries, another can’t seem to make contact. Click here
I’ve never been one to get head-over-heels about spring training, other than it signaling the near-end of a long offseason.
Granted there are some interesting position battles each spring, which I understand the spring statistics can play a part in determining final roster cuts, but mostly I keep my fingers crossed the Cubs’ regulars make it to opening day healthy.
Injuries, however, have been mounting for the Cubs since Matt Garza went down with a sore left lat muscle on Feb. 7. Early indications suggested the injury was not serious and would only sideline Garza one week.
Garza, however, didn’t return until two weeks later, when he again felt discomfort throwing. Although the organization, manager Dale Sveum and Garza insist the Cubs are only playing it cautious with the right-hander, he’s not expected to be available through the first month of the regular season.
Dontrelle Willis pulled up lame with shoulder soreness after throwing his first seven pitches this spring. He immediately left the game and has yet to return.
Ian Stewart, who was expected to platoon with Luis Valbuena as the starting third basemen, has been battling a left-quad strain, which has limited him to light jogging and fielding practice.
There’s no question the untimely injury is putting Stewart, who’s playing on a non-guaranteed contract, in jeopardy of not making the team out of spring camp. He’s yet to appear in a Cactus League game.
Third base prospect Josh Vitters is also suffering from a quad strain and has not appeared in game action.
Super utility man Brent Lillibridge entered camp as a favorite to win an opening day roster spot. But he only saw action in five games before suffering a groin strain in early March. He’s still a candidate to make the team if he’s able to return relatively soon.
Aside from Garza, the most concerning setback is with Starlin Castro.
He suffered a tight left hamstring while running out an infield hit on Feb. 27. The Cubs, not surprisingly, have been extra cautious with two-time All-Star’s return.
Castro played in all 162 games last season becoming the first Cubs shortstop ever to do so.
“It was more tight than a pull or anything like that, so he’s just day to day. Thank God, nothing real major at all,” said Sveum.
Ian Stewart’s bat seems to have been on the disabled list all season.
A sore left wrist, however, is what officially landed Stewart on the 15-day DL on Wednesday.
Give the guy credit for playing through the season-long pain. He’s managed to start 49 of the team’s first 61 games, but the results offensively have steadily declined.
Stewart hit .225 in April, then .169 in May. All totaled it’s a discouraging .201 average, 5 HR & 17 RBI.
It’s far from what the Cubs hoped for when they traded Tyler Colvin & DJ LeMahieu to Colorado for Casey Weathers & Stewart in early December.