At what point do you simply write off a player as too fragile?
It depends on how much talent they have, and Troy Tulowitzki is immensely talented. When he’s playing he’s one of the best shortstops, possibly the best, in the game. The problem is that in his seven-year career he’s only twice played 150 games or more, and only one additional time did he manage more than 122 games.
Some people have dubbed him Larry Walker 2.0. Maybe that comparison is fair, maybe it’s not. Larry Walker in his 16-year career only managed to play 150 games once, 140-plus games four times. But Walker was typically good for 130-plus games. He missed that mark five times, but two of them were the final two years of his career when he was over 37.
With his recent rib injury, Tulowitzki has made us wonder if he’ll ever be even that durable. Now that he’s on the shelf for another four to eight, it’s certainly time to ask if he's capable of staying healthy over a full season -- something he hasn’t done since 2009.
There have been so many injuries at this point that it's hard to consider it bad luck. In the past six years he’s hit the DL with a torn tendon in his quad, a cut on his hand, a fractured wrist, strained groin and now a rib injury. Officially, it’s time to admit that Tulo is a brittle player.
That’s a shame. I like Tulo, he’s a nice guy and has the heart of a lion when it comes to competition. But it’s time for the Rockies to consider what to do with him. At the very least it’s time to consider shifting him to a lower impact position, perhaps third base or maybe even first.
Moving him to first would be a tough thing to do to a guy as athletic as Tulo, but as the Rockies don’t have a DH spot, first base might well be the lowest impact position left on the diamond, and this realistically is Todd Helton’s final season. That might not set well with Tyler Colvin, the heir apparent at first base, but let's face it, Tulowitzki is the face of the franchise.
He’s also signed through 2020.
That means that the Rox have a vested interest in keeping Tulowitzki’s bat in the lineup no matter what. So moving him to another position really makes sense not just for his offense, but because the reality is that Tulowtizki will be 29 next season, not 22, and while 29 is still considered to be in your prime, it’s getting towards the far end of it. So the truth is that his defense is beginning to fade at least a little.
Odds are that he’s be better at third than first from a defensive point of view, but again the Rockies don’t want Tulo to become a younger version of Alex Rodriguez, losing more and more time and contributing less each year because injuries are mounting.
Rockies fans and management (not to mention a ton of fantasy baseball players) believe that Tulo has at least one MVP-type season left in him before the inevitable skill decline sets in. But he’ll have to be healthy to have it.
So while Walker was a great player, the Rockies certainly don’t need Tulowitzki to follow in his footsteps.