DENVER -- The Rockies are entering the 20th year of their quest for a long-term, high-quality answer at second base.Here's a quick review of the almost annual ritual of change: It's one of two positions at which the Rockies have never had an All-Star, catcher being the other. Since Eric Young was the primary starter at the position in the inaugural 1993 season and from '94 to '99, no player has been the clear-cut starter for three seasons, consecutive or otherwise. Just three players in club history -- Young, Mike Lansing (1998-2004) and Clint Barmes (2004-10) -- have started more than 185 games at the keystone spot. Barmes, a 10th-round pick in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, is the only player developed through the club's Minor League system to start more than 45 games in a season at second. That brings us to the plan for 2012, where, oddly, many of the possibilities carry familiar names. The Rockies finished last year in decent shape, after trading with the Athletics for Mark Ellis, who appeared in 70 games, started 63 at second and hit .274 with six home runs, 13 doubles and 25 RBIs. However, Ellis is a free agent, and the Rockies don't appear to be willing to go beyond a deal for one year with an option. Ellis, who will turn 35 next June, is expected to test the market to see if there is a better offer.
Also on the list for the Rockies are Jamey Carroll, whose 161 starts for the club in 2006 and '07 place him fifth on the team's list (behind Young at 389, Lansing at 269, Barmes at 262 and Aaron Miles at 185). But there is internal sentiment at reaching to the past and pursuing Barmes, whom the Rockies traded to the Astros last winter.The Rockies like Barmes' versatility. Barmes has made more starts at shortstop (303) than at second. That comes into play because two-time Gold Glove and Slugger Silver Slugger Award-winning shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is much bigger than average for his position, he extends himself to the fullest and has a history of injuries, especially to leg muscles. A banged-up Tulowitzki didn't play after Sept. 22 this past season. Having Barmes, who played short for the Astros and is close to Tulowitzki in terms of range, could allow manager Jim Tracy to rest Tulowitzki more frequently during the season. The Rockies would have an easier time filling in at second. But the Rockies also are willing to look beyond familiar players. ESPN and The Denver Post reported that Aaron Hill is a possibility if he does not accept the D-backs' offer. The Rockies have had internal discussions about talking to the Padres about former Gold Glove-winning second baseman Orlando Hudson, who is owed $7.5 million for 2012. The Padres might be amenable to moving him, although his contract may scare off interested clubs. Also, The Denver Post reported Wednesday afternoon that the Rockies, whose officials are in Scottsdale, Ariz., at an organizational summit, have contacted the Braves about Martin Prado, who is available because he could earn $3-$5 million through arbitration.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.