Inbox: Do Rockies have enough pop?
Beat reporter Thomas Harding fields fans' questions
Is shortstop Troy Tulowitzki going to get help from another power hitter?
-- Emilio M., California
The Rockies have confidence in the sluggers in their lineup. Brad Hawpe was one of the best run producers among right fielders until a late-season slump last year. Carlos Gonzalez was touted as a power prospect in the Minors and hit 11 homers during August and September for the Rockies. Ian Stewart is a former first-round pick who has displayed top-shelf power at times in his young career.
But don't take my word for it, Emilio. I talked to Tulowitzki himself, and he took a crack at your question.
"I have been very lucky to be surrounded by great hitters in my time in Colorado, and that does wonders," Tulowitzki said. "Brad Hawpe, Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez -- the way he came on last year -- and Ian Sewart play a big part, not only in my success but in our team's success. I make sure I tell those guys that all the time."
I was wondering with all the success Andrew Johnston has had in the Minors, does he have any shot at getting a chance to get called up to the Majors this year?
-- Andy R., Lee's Summit, Mo.
The Rockies have had success with developing relievers in recent years, so as long as Johnston stays healthy and productive, he'll be in the mix.
A ninth-round pick out of Missouri in 2005, Johnston has been either a midseason or postseason all-star at every level. He participated in the 2009 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game most recently. The Rockies did not put him on their 40-man Major League roster this offseason, but no team claimed him in the Rule 5 Draft.
That gives him more development time with the Rockies. Johnston is durable, having appeared in 56 games last season and more than 50 the past three years. Durability and production could eventually lead to a shot in the Majors.
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Why do the Rockies let great players go every year and never spend any money on new players?
-- Brandan G., Littleton, Colo.
This is a question that always hangs in the air when a small- or mid-market team like the Rockies stays out of the offseason headlines.
First, let's explain the market status. Major factors are many teams broadcast their games to a greater number of people and have access to a greater amount of sponsorship dollars. Even when the Rockies were leading the Majors in attendance a decade or so ago, before the team added the club area behind home plate, I remember there were figures that showed them in the middle of the pack in terms of revenue.
So that, and the fact the team spent big briefly and didn't win, is the background behind the team's payroll approach.
In recent years, the Rockies haven't exactly let great players go. Of the players who have left for financial reasons, outfielder Matt Holliday is the only one that could truly be called a star, and the Rockies recouped significant value for him in the trade with Oakland. That's not a knock against players such as pitcher Jason Marquis, third baseman Garrett Atkins or catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who likely will not be re-signed. There have been some contributors who have come and gone, but the team's approach is it can fill those spots economically.
It's true that the Rockies tend not to spend money on new players. Where they've chosen to spend, though, is on players they've developed. To stem the tide of players leaving once they reach arbitration and free agency, the Rockies have signed many of them to multiyear contracts.
As a fan, it can be frustrating to not see your team in headlines this time of year. But two playoff appearances in three years can make up for that. The key for the Rockies is to remain stable as long as possible. The multiyear contracts for young players give them a better chance at stability than chasing big-ticket free agents.
What are the chances Jason Giambi will come back to the Rockies next season? In my opinion, it would be a good idea because of Todd Helton's past injuries. Granted, Helton wasn't injured last year, but you never know when he could get hurt, and Giambi could give Helton a couple days off per week.
-- Paul M., Longmont, Colo.
Things have been quiet as far as Giambi is concerned, which bodes well for the Rockies, who have expressed interest in retaining him. Giambi is a better fit in the American League, where he can have regular at-bats as a designated hitter and play first base occasionally. But his contribution to the Rockies late last season, and the way he fit in and led a young club left manager Jim Tracy wondering what Giambi could do over a full season in Colorado.
The Rockies also have been quiet in their pursuit for bench players. Typically, the market for such players is slow. Often a productive player can be signed for a Minor League contract, which gives the team roster flexibility. General manager Dan O'Dowd said whether the Rockies are pursuing pinch-hitter/utility types with Major League or Minor League offers "depends on the player."
So there is plenty of time between now and Spring Training for the Rockies or Giambi to make decisions.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.