Will thin air make Mark Ellis relevant again?

Colorado manager Jim Tracy is known for his constant lineup juggling, and the second base spot has been a revolving door in 2011. Jose Lopez got a brief chance, then Jonathan Herrera moved in for a tryout. Alfredo Amezaga, Eric Young Jr. and Chris Nelson have also stopped by for a spell; everyone short of Linus Van Pelt has been at the post at some point through 81 games.

Maybe this all stops with the Mark Ellis acquisition.

The Rockies scooped up Ellis from Oakland on Thursday, and at a discount price; all it cost Colorado is reliever Bruce Billings and a player to be named later. Ellis recently came back from a hamstring injury, and the Jemile Weeks emergence made the veteran expendable.

There's not much to celebrate from Ellis's 2011 stat line: a messy .217/.253/.290 slash, with 32 strikeouts against eight walks. But don't overlook the seven steals, or the fact that he hit .291 last year. And from 2005-2009, Ellis was a sneaky power source, knocking 65 homers over five seasons.

Ellis is a steady defender, to the extent that his defense might keep him on the field every day no matter how he's hitting. As for his bat, why not take a shot with the thin air of Coors Field? Sure, it didn't do much for the other second basemen we mentioned above, but it's not like we've never seen a journeyman resurrect his career in this offensive playground.

In shallow mixed leagues, you can let the story play out before you have to make a decision. In deeper mixed groups, you need to think proactively and aggressively; as soon as you can build a case for plausible upside, it's time to act. Ellis is already gone in all of my 12-14 team mixers that have ongoing transactions open.

You know your league better than I do. Offense isn't easy to find in 2011. Perhaps Ellis will be one of the surprise stories over the second half. If I were reshuffling the middle infielders right now, I'd have Ellis in the $6-7 range. I'd also have Weeks in double digits, now that we know absolutely, positively that he's got the job for good (even as the Athletics have been essentially saying that already).

Image courtesy Associated Press