Sometimes hope is believing what is not seen. The Rockies have moving parts that could dramatically influence their season.
If the Rockies assembled their best lineup, it could be argued that Carlos Gonzalez should hit leadoff and play center field. Manager Walt Weiss calls that "a longshot." He wants CarGo in the middle of the lineup.
When center fielder Dexter Fowler was traded, Gonzalez was open to a move to center field. That was before the Rockies acquired Drew Stubbs. Given how important it is for Gonzalez to play a minimum of 140 games, it should surprise no one if the Rockies keep the two-time all-star in left field.
Coors Field requires texting between outfielders on flyballs. It's an enormous space to cover and has exacted a huge toll on every center fielder who has played there. Ellis Burks, Preston Wilson, Jeromy Burnitz, Tom Goodwin and Fowler were among those whose legs were worn down by the track workouts.
What this means is that CarGo's position is officially a story line at spring training. He might be the Rockies' best center fielder, but if Stubbs or Charlie Blackmon hits well in Arizona, earning Weiss' trust, plans could change. If CarGo plays center field, he would require more rest. That's a flawed strategy for a team that needs to maximize every roster piece.
Stubbs is a legitimate defender in center field. His problem is hitting right-handed pitching (career .211 average). He and Blackmon could platoon, though I'm not comfortable leaving Corey Dickerson out of the mix. He's not a center fielder, so this would cast him as a fifth outfielder or as the first man up in Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Keeping CarGo and Troy Tulo- witzki in the lineup is paramount. Weiss and Tulo devised a rest schedule last season that kept the shortstop healthy, save for a fluke broken rib. While Tulowitzki is in a better place physically this spring, Weiss will continue to implement rest days to minimize leg issues.
"Getting 145 games from each of them would be outstanding," Weiss said.
Talkin' Tulo. Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci speaks in measured tones, so his answer to the Yankees' replacement for Derek Jeter in 2015 created pause. Appearing recently on "Mad Dog" sports radio, he said, without hesitation, "Tulowitzki."
Jeter is retiring at season's end, and the Yankees will want a star to take over at shortstop. The idea of the Yankees acquiring Tulo makes sense at first glance but may not be realistic. The Yankees can afford Tulo's contract ($118 million owed after this season on a deal that runs through 2020, with a club option for 2021). However, even if the Rockies were motivated to trade Tulo — and there's no indication they are — piecing together a deal is not a foregone conclusion. The Yankees' farm system is not flourishing. They couldn't get a deal done for Ubaldo Jimenez three years ago when their top trade piece was catcher-turned-DH Jesus Montero, a bust. This winter, the Rockies provided a window of what they would want for Tulo, who wears No. 2 because of Jeter, when listening to the Cardinals. It was going to take a combination of pitchers and hitters. St. Louis was a fit because it could part with Shelby Miller, Matt Adams and others and barely dent its prospect pipeline.
The Yankees have starter Ivan Nova, and then it gets more difficult. Their top pitching prospects have regressed in recent seasons.
The Yankees will have other options to replace Jeter. If the Dodgers don't sign Hanley Ramirez to a contract extension, he would become a prime target.
Tulo as a future Yankee is talk- radio speculation, but it likely won't go away until Jeter's successor is in place.