As I pointed out over at Bugs & Cranks this morning, I can't for the life of me understand why Melvin Mora hasn't shown up to camp early.
Mora is being counted on to wear a number of hats for the Rockies this season. Aside from third base, where Mora has played 99.98% of his games over the past six seasons, he's expected to see time for sure at second base, and possibly first base, shortstop and outfield.
Early in his career Mora was athletic enough to pull off such a role. However, as his career has moved along, Mora has settled into that one position: third base. Troy Renck points out that Mora has become quite adept at that position defensively.
When the team was investigating signing Mora, they had data showing that he was the best range of any third baseman last season. Measuring defense is still a subjective science, but it means he’s good regardless.That is good. Quite good. But Ian Stewart is pretty damn good. too, and unless he falters terribly offensively, Mora isn't going to play a ton of third base. Sure, he'll play against most of the tough lefties in place of Stewart, but his value to the Rockies is not as a straight platoon mate at third. He's going to need to play other positions. He's going to need to play them well.
What he should be doing now is proving to himself, and the Rockies, that he can handle those positions. He can't do that sitting at home.
Jim Tracy said in a recent interview that Mora gave him the following message during a conference call...
"Just let me get to Spring Training in Tucson and start running around out there, and let me show that I'm capable of doing anything it takes to help the team win."Then let's get to Tucson and get this showcase underway. What's the hold up?
I sincerely hope the Rockies aren't planning on gift wrapping a roster spot to Mora. I know they gave him guaranteed money and a spot on the 40-man roster, but let's please make him earn that spot on the 25-man opening day roster. I'm not saying he's not capable of earning it, I'm just not overly optimistic about the value he can provide to the team as a utilityman. And they damn sure can't afford to waste a roster spot on someone who can't perform the assigned role.