Colorado Rockies emerge from spring with final roster decisions

Colorado Rockies column banner: In the Rockpile

Colorado Rockies prospect Nolan Arenado gets a hit in spring training.
Nolan Arenado will start the season at triple-A for the Colorado Rockies.

As the Colorado Rockies make their final personnel decisions, some notable storylines have developed out of the shaping of the opening day roster. Heading back to the minors will be pitcher Drew Pomeranz and third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Pomeranz, the centerpiece of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, has been lackluster in his time with the Rockies posting a 4-10 record over his abbreviated two seasons in Colorado. Following Pomeranz to Colorado Springs is a 2-2 spring-training record with a 5.50 ERA, the second highest of the possible starting pitchers (Jhoulys Chacin did worse with an 0-2 record and 8.44 ERA). Pomeranz has failed to live up to expectations, and that may not be his fault entirely since the bar may be higher than his ceiling. The minors were an appropriate spot for him and not the 40-man roster.

Arenado on the other hand should have made the opening-day roster over veteran Chris Nelson. The rookie has been poised for a call-up as the Rockies highest rated prospect but hasn’t been able to crack the roster, even last season when the Rockies were well out of the playoff race. Not wanting to expose him to the losing clubhouse, the Rockies front office opted to not bring him up for his first big-league action in 2012.

His spring stats — superior to Nelson’s — should’ve warranted his first taste of big-league action at the opening of the season, but that will now have to wait until Nelson’s stats plateau and dip or becomes injured. In Cactus League play, Arenado has scored more runs than Nelson, hit more home runs than Nelson, struck out less and posted a higher average … and he will begin the 2013 season in Colorado Springs with Pomeranz.

The Colorado Rockies also tried their best to shore up their kitten rotation by bringing in Jon Garland from the Seattle Mariners camp. The veteran righty brings experience and a winning record to the Rox, but he isn’t real young (33), and he isn’t particularly dominant. The key to his employment is that the Colorado Rockies believe his flyball-to-groundball ratio is advantageous at Coors Field. Let’s hope so.

Soon to depart is catcher Ramon Hernandez, who was added to the roster during the 2011 offseason and saw little time behind the plate for the Colorado Rockies. A wrist injury and then a hamstring injury in 2012 wrecked his chance at becoming an everyday catcher at the major-league level. With the return of Yorvit Torrealba (who has hit for a .526 average this spring), Hernandez will soon be released or sent to the minors until something happens to Wilin Rosario.

Another familiar face making a return (read: retread) to the Colorado Rockies — sort of, since he still has a home in-state —  is Aaron Cook. The fiery haired righty will begin his second stint with the Rockies on a minor league deal in Colorado Springs. For a guy who once was a rotation mainstay, it is a far fall from grace from his dominant days in 2008-09. He was shipped up to Boston and then shipped back again only to have to drive past Coors Field to play minor league ball in Colorado Springs.

The Rockies offseason hasn’t been much to speak of, except on a slow news day, and the only waves they made otherwise was Arenado’s game performances and signing Garland. Baseball returns next week, and it is up to the Colorado Rockies rotation to keep baseball relevant all season in the Mile High City.

Follow me on Twitter @CoryWhitmer

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