Is Ty Wigginton Killing The Rockies?

SAN DIEGO, CA: Ty Wigginton #21 of the Colorado Rockies slides into second base with a double under tag of Alberto Gonzalez #14 of the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Petco Park in San Diego, California. The Rockies won 3-0. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

The Colorado Rockies are 32-35 and Hot Rox has a prime suspect in the crime against the club's pennant chances:

Whenever bad stuff has happened to the Rockies this season, Ty Wigginton has been in the middle of it. The turning point to the season, to my mind, came on Saturday, May 14, against the Padres. The Rockies had cooled off since their hot start, but they went into that game in a virtual tie for first with the Giants, and got out to a 7-1 lead at home, with Joulys Chacin rolling along. Then came a couple of walks, Chacin botted a grounder, and Wigginton flubbed a simple little bouncer. Before long the Padres had come all the way back, the Rockies fell out of first, and they have never been back.

I don't know why, but I've been fascinated by the Rockies' third-base issues all spring. They essentially came into the season with three third basemen: Wigginton, Jose Lopez, and of course Ian Stewart, the incumbent.

Stewart was hurt in spring training, got off to a horrible start, went to Triple-A Colorado Springs, hit brilliantly, came back to the big club, was horrible in six games, and went back to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Lopez was a disaster wherever and whenever he played, and was dumped in late May.

Meanwhile, Wigginton stands alone.

Which would be great except Wigginton is ill-equipped to stand alone. With his ability to play three infield spots and even a little outfield in a pinch, Wigginton's a handy guy to have around. Especially considering he's a pretty good hitter. But an every-day third baseman? Not so much. Mostly because he has, for some years running, just been an awful fielder at the position. At least if you believe his Ultimate Zone Ratings.

Stewart's been his usual self during his second stint with Colorado Springs, and there's no obvious reason to think he's fundamentally any different than he was last year, or the year before. For whatever reason, Jim Tracy seems to have taken a bit of a disliking to Stewart, which doesn't mean he's right. At the very least, Stewart could play against right-handed pitching and Wigginton against lefties, with Stewart replacing Wigginton for late-game defense. Because what Jim Tracy's doing right now just isn't working. And while there are plenty of reasons for the Rockies' losing record, their third-base woes are perhaps the easiest to address.

So what's taking so long?

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