Inbox: What's next for Hawpe and Atkins?
Beat reporter Thomas Harding answers fans' questions
What will the Rockies do with Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe?
-- Paula Q., Broomfield, Colo.
-- Jay D., Greenville, Pa. Jay D. actually sent two e-mails. Jay grew up a Pirates fan, and he fears that this team will end up torn apart because of finances. It's happened time and time again to the Pirates. I think there's less to fear in this case, since the Rockies took the necessary steps to build the farm system.
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(Just maybe the Pirates are going to build their system and give Jay, and me, that long-sought Rockies-Pirates playoff series.)Anyhow, here's an interesting thought about the right-handed-hitting question: What if the Rockies already have what they need? This gets back to catcher Chris Iannetta. Even though he fell from .264 in 2008 to .228 last season, he hit 16 home runs and drove in 52 runs in 289 at-bats. The 65 RBIs he tallied in '08 set a team record. A rebound could make a huge difference. This also brings us to second baseman Clint Barmes, who hit .290 in 2008 and knocked 23 home runs and drove in 76 runs in '09. Imagine the monster season he would have if he put together run production with average. The Rockies would be smart to explore a Hawpe trade to get that extra right-handed bat. No team should stand pat after success. But if a Hawpe deal isn't possible, the club at least has potential to fill the right-handed hole from within. With Yorvit Torrealba not coming back, what are our options at catcher with Iannetta? I know Paul Phillips hit .311 last year, but is that a realistic norm? What are the chances we can bring back Danny Ardoin from the Dodgers organization? He always seemed like a great veteran presence and could be a great backup for Iannetta in 2010.
-- Steve T., Littleton, Colo. To begin with, I'm not going to close the book on Torrealba's return. It all depends on whether he can find starter's money elsewhere. If not, coming back would make a lot of sense. Yes, the Rockies want Iannetta to take control of the job, but Torrealba has a manager in Jim Tracy who knows what he can do with extended playing time. Would I expect Phillips to hit .311 over a full Major League season? No. But I like the way he handles the bat. If Torrealba doesn't return, it would be intriguing to see what Phillips can do when given a chance at a Major League job. I don't know how available Ardoin is to the Rockies, but expect them to sign a similar catcher for depth.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.