Thursday Rockpile: Dex an unknown, but a good one

There are going to be stories every Spring that you just can't predict very easily. Jeff Francis' bum shoulder would be a powerful case in point on the negative end of that risk spectrum. Given the experience of last season, if news was going to come out about Francis this winter, it was more than likely going to be the kind of bad news we received last weekend. We knew something was fishy. the reasons for his lapse last season were never fully explained, and it made me at least very skeptical of his chances for a complete comeback in 2009.

On the other end of that unknown event spectrum would be the "rookie breakout" where a talented prospect suddenly blooms into a talented MLB player. Troy Renck reports that Fowler has come back from his winter workout program a dozen pounds bigger in one of those "added 12 pounds of muscle" stories we read each preseason. In this case, as was the case with Ubaldo Jimenez last year, I wouldn't just laugh it off so quickly. This is not Pedro Alvarez showing up fat and out of shape, Fowler's been taking part in a careful and supervised offseason program specifically designed by his agency in support of their athletes. At any rate, if Fowler in fact proves ready for full time, contender worthy MLB starting duty out of the gate in April, the Rockies could move back ahead of Los Angeles (even after they sign Manny) in projected lineup contribution next year. Our outfield defense, which Rockies Magic Number pointed out yesterday right now figures to be abysmal, would also experience a huge upgrade.

Fowler talked about being an African-American baseball player with Sidelineshow.com a couple of months ago, there is some wind in the audio, so you may want to adjust your volume controls before hitting the play button:

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I wrote the Rockies section for The Hardball Times 2009 Preview book, mostly fawning over how dreamy Chris Iannetta is, but I also put in some other good stuff. At any rate, you probably already know most of my thoughts regarding the Rox, but you should get this to get similar dirt from the most intense fans in the universe on the other 29 teams.

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