The one position that the Rockies will have to address in spring training is second base. Kazuo Matsui, the primary second baseman last season, filed for free agency and signed a three-year deal with Houston. Jamey Carroll, the primary second baseman in 2006, was traded to Cleveland for a player to be named.
The in-house favorite for the job is rookie Jayson Nix, a supplemental draft after the first round in 2001, the Rockies' first selection that year. He was selected with a compensation choice Colorado received for right-hander Matt Harrington, their first-round draft choice in 2000 who did not sign.
Nix is considered an elite defensive player. He has been inconsistent offensively, but he finished the 2007 season well at Class AAA Colorado Springs, then was selected the MVP of the World Cup in Taiwan, helping Team USA win the event for the first time in 30 years.
The other in-house candidates are Clint Barmes, the team's Opening Day shortstop in 2005 and 2006, and Omar Quintanilla, who gives the Rockies a left-handed option. Third basemen Ian Stewart and Jeff Baker also have worked at second base in the offseason with the idea they could be possibilities.
Stewart would seem most likely headed back to Colorado Springs for a second season. The Rockies would like him to put together an impact season. He would be the primary third baseman for the Sky Sox but could get time at second base, too, if the Rockies feel that experiment is worth continuing. A year ago, Stewart worked out in the outfield, and the Rockies are confident he could make that move if need be.
The Rockies, meanwhile, are looking for insurance. They have been in discussions with veterans Marcus Giles and Todd Walker. They would give either one a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
NOTES, QUOTES:LHP Mark Redman and RHP Kip Wells will compete with rookie LHP Franklin Morales for the fifth spot in the Rockies rotation.
LHP Micah Bowie, who was 4-3 with a 4.55 ERA for Washington last season, signed a minor league contract with the Rockies and will be invited to spring training. He appeared in 30 games for the Nationals, 22 in relief. The Rockies are looking for left-handed relief help.
INF/OF Matt Kata, who has played for Arizona, Philadelphia, Texas and Pittsburgh, signed a minor league contract with Colorado. He was coached in high school football by Rockies radio announcer Jack Corrigan. Kata played five positions last year -- second, third, shortstop, left field and right field -- with the Pirates and Rangers.
C Mike Rose, 31, who signed a minor league contract, has appeared in the big leagues with the Cardinals (2006), the Dodgers (2005) and A's (2004). He spent the 2007 season with Cleveland's Class AAA Buffalo affiliate.
Three minor league coaches have been promoted by the Rockies. Dave Hajek will move from low Class A Asheville to Class AA Tulsa. Hitting coach Duane Espy will go from rookie-level Casper to high Class A Modesto, and pitching coach Doug Linton will move from rookie Tri-City to Asheville.
BY THE NUMBERS: 20 -- Wins in September by the Rockies, the seventh time in 15 years that a big-league team won at least 20 in the final month of the season. The 1995 Yankees, 2000 A's and 2002 Cardinals all won 21 in September.
The 2007 Rockies, 1999 Orioles, 2000 Giants and 2004 Astros had 20-win Septembers. The Rockies had a winning record in every month except April last season, a franchise record.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They had a tremendous season, not only in terms of wins and losses but how it's reflected on their player development system." -- San Diego CEO Sandy Alderson on the Rockies winning the NL pennant in 2007.