When the Colorado Rockies signed veteran Mike Moustakas this spring, those who pay attention to such things saw it immediately as a sign that the club was about to block some of its most promising prospects with a slew of past-their-prime veterans.

Adding Jurickson Profar to the roster shortly thereafter only added to this thought process as did the fact that Michael Toglia and Nolan Jones essentially went 0-for-Spring Training. 

To the Rockies’ credit, they sent both players to Albuquerque and each seemed to respond well in the early going down there, getting regular playing time. They also made the (correct) decision to carry youngster Elehuris Montero and make him the everyday starting third baseman. At least, for a little while.

Montero has always been shaky on defense. It has been a part of his profile since before he was acquired from St. Louis and while he has improved quite a bit, he still remains well below MLB average when he has a glove rather than a bat in hand.

He may well be the DH of the team’s future but another veteran, and all-time great Rockie, is in the way; Charlie Blackmon.

So the plan was to play him at third and hope for more growth but Montero has struggled mightily on plays this club in particular is used to making. They’ve often ended up contributing to extending innings that have only exacerbated the Rockies implosions on the mound. He already has five errors on the season and a few more “shoulda had that” plays.

It all culminated on Monday night against the Pirates where he, apparently, had finally made a few mistakes too many.

Manager Bud Black told the gathered media the next day that his staff was working through a number of potential scenarios to address the issue but for now Ryan McMahon would be taking over at third and Montero would be taking a seat on the bench. When asked, he left open the possibility that the 24-year-old Dominican could even be sent down.

The Rockies have informed Mile High Sports that Montero does indeed still have an option remaining, despite what it says on Fangraphs and Spotrac, and so he can be optioned down to Triple-A. But he really shouldn’t be.

This team isn’t good. This team isn’t close to being good.

And the quality of their defense at third base isn’t going to make the difference between being terrible and being mediocre or anything in between. With all apologies to the pitchers (and fans and coaches) who have to endure ugly plays that absolutely should be made at the highest level in the land, he needs to be playing every day and we all need to know if his bat will play.

The players who will get at-bats in Montero’s place, especially Moustakas, do not factor into this team’s future but Montero does and whatever decisions come next need to be about getting the absolute most out of him, putting the competitiveness of the team as priority number two.

At shortstop, they need to and have been following this protocol with Ezequiel Tovar when it comes to his early-season offensive struggles. To be fair, hitting as a 21-year-old is quite a bit more difficult than fielding and from a process standpoint Tovar has given plenty of reasons to believe improvement may be just around the corner. 

So regardless of how light he hits, the Rockies are committed to weathering the storm with Tovar and they should be with Montero as well despite the fact that his shortcomings feel so much worse.

The Colorado Rockies have long held the philosophy that they have to keep up a floor of having an MLB caliber player at each position, holding up the integrity of the game and trying to avoid looking like a circus on the field by (for example) playing guys out of position or before they are fully ready.

This is why players like Moustakas, Profar, and Harold Castro are on the team. In a year where the team might be fighting for a postseason spot, these would be fine pieces that help make sure you have the proper experience to man each position at an MLB level.

But this team isn’t fighting for a postseason spot. Or rather, they are fighting for a postseason spot… in 2024.

And the focus should be on getting the absolute most out of the players who can help turn this thing around rather than continuing to commit playing time to the veterans who aren’t steering the ship in the right direction anyway and won’t be around in the future to help correct course.

Elehuris Montero is one of the very few things in the entire Colorado Rockies organization for fans to get excited about right now. If they can come up with a plan that minimizes his negative impact on defense but doesn’t halt his growth at the plate, then we can look back on this and give credit where it is due.

For now, it just looks like the Rockies are mishandling one of their most important assets. Again.