Tracy Ringolsby lists Clint Hurdle as one of five managers who will be looking over their shoulder as the season begins. Hurdle's tenure with the Rockies has included just one winning season in seven tries, and while a couple of his early years saw him guiding a team without competitive talent, that excuse no longer applies. Critical decisions which Hurdle could be judged on this Spring include how he resolves the Rockies outfield situation and how he builds his rotation and bullpen, including who the Rockies decide to keep and who they wind up losing for cheap.
Troy Renck notes that Josh Fogg is getting close to making a decision, and is leaning toward joining the Rockies on a minor league contract as soon as this weekend. Jeff Francis' shoulder situation probably makes marginal starters like Fogg more interested in the team, as they will see a clearer path to big league innings.
While Thomas Harding's suggestion that Greg Smith might be a darkhorse candidate to start for the Rockies on opening day might seem a little off the wall at first, the idea of putting one of the team's lesser starters in that slot does have some strategic merit for a team like the Rockies, who lack the quality ace of our divisional foes, but typically will have higher quality pitchers in the other slots. The Rockies would essentially be acknowledging that they don't have the horse to compete on the first day of a rotation and look for some dragonslayer type of luck, but trade that for an upgrade in their chances in days 2-5. Of course, after a few weeks it all starts to get jumbled anyway, but sacrificing one loss to win four in the first month is a sound strategy on the surface.