Wednesday Rockpile: Pieces Now in Place for the Hunt for Next Rocktober

With the announcement that third baseman/subject of numerous trade discussions Garrett Atkins and the Rockies have reached an agreement on a one year, 7.05 million dollar deal (a cool quarter million below the midpoint, thank you very much), all key Rockies personnel, barring a surprise free agent move, are signed and in place for Spring Training later this month. To borrow a page from Silverblood's book, that was one sentence, 59 words. Not a bad way to start off my first official Rockpile.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not also mention that I will be discussing the phenomenon that is salary arbitration at greater length in an article that will hopefully be posted on Thursday. It's really too bad that Atkins came to a resolution so quickly, stealing my journalistic thunder and all that. But I digress. On to what you really came for: the links!

Those pebbles grow up so fast...

Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News reveals what we could not see on Baseball America's website with the BA Top 10 Rockies Prospects, plus an extended list of BA's top 30. The article is excellent reading for anyone interested in the development  of our little pebbles.

It seems to me that Ringolsby treats our prospects with kid gloves when he is critiquing them. In particular, Gomez and Weathers' injuries are worrisome to me.  But what the hey, it's the time of year for optimism and finding the best in everything and everyone--especially our prospects. For those pessimists out there, your time will soon come. 

Wake me up before you CarGo...

In a week full of Carlos Gonzalez articles, Jack Etkin of the RMN has an excellent piece about CarGo's development. The sidebar indicates that the Rockies will try out Gonzalez at all three outfield positions and also compares his struggles with strikeouts to those Ian Stewart had last year. Finally, the article includes an analysis of his swing, courtesy of his AAA hitting coach, Brian McArn:

"He always has a little upper- half rotation, but he was just doing it too much," McArn said. "It was causing him to be late, which caused him to pull off the ball. For whatever reason, when you struggle, your effort level goes up. You try a little bit harder."

...

After the Rockies acquired Gonzalez, O'Dowd said, "With his type of swing, he shouldn't be striking out as much."

Indeed, McArn said Gonzalez has "a very level swing, and his bat stays in that hitting zone a long time," but he was being exploited by curveballs off the outer part of the plate.

"He can hit to all parts of the field," McArn said. "They try and pitch him away and he slaps one into the left-center gap, and then (the pitcher) comes in and he turns on it. But you've got to get good pitches to do that. And once he starts laying off that breaking stuff that's out of the zone, he'll get those pitches to hit. It's a learning process that, with his swing, there's no doubt he'll figure out in the big leagues."

Dealin' Dan can only hope that CarGo gets his chakras aligned and harness his talent soon--because A. The young outfielder's talent is tantalizing and B. O'Dowd's job very well might depend on it, fair or not.

More links after the jump...

Consistency is the spice of life...

According to our old pal Clint Hurdle in Troy Renck and Patrick Saunders' Denver Post piece, consistency will be key in creating and maintaining success in 2009. Clint answers definitively a couple of questions that the Row has been discussing for a while now. When talking about Francis' injury, Clint indicated that George of the Rose will definitely be in the rotation and Ian Stewart will not be tried out at second:

It's still the most depth we have had in the starting rotation going into spring training since I've been here. You know Ubaldo (Jimenez), (Aaron) Cook, (Jason) Marquis and (Jorge) De La Rosa are going to be there. Now there's one spot open."

...

On Stewart's positions in spring training, "We will have him at third and in the outfield."

I see your Jon Garland and I raise you Josh Fogg... 

Barry Bloom of MLB.com chimes in with an article about the pitching race in the NL West. The primary focus of this article is the Dodgers, Giants, and Diamondbacks signing (potentially signing Wolf or Looper in the Dodgers' case) pitching this offseason. He mentions the Rockies only in passing (after even the Padres), but his brief report is long enough to betray his ignorance of the Rockies' pitching situation. In his own words:

The Rockies, who were swept by the Red Sox in the 2007 World Series and slumped to 74 wins last season, are hoping for a quick recovery from Jeff Francis, their staff ace, who had left shoulder soreness last season, slumped to 4-10 from 17-9 in 2007 and is still well behind schedule.

They just inked the second-year Ubaldo Jimenez (12-12 last season) to a four-year deal that will guarantee him $10 million, and brought back 2007 staff stalwart Josh Fogg, 2-7 for the Reds in 2008. With that, GM Dan O'Dowd said the Rockies are probably done.

Yeah. Besides the whole Francis ace thing, Bloom doesn't mention of the Jason Marquis trade in his NL West pitching additions column--but Josh Fogg merits a shout out as a "stalwart". Makes perfect sense to me.

Padres aside, the NL West does really seem to be stockpiling pitching depth though. If the Dodgers can get a hold of Wolf and Looper (and my gut says they will), they will be prohibitive division favorites.

A clever way to antagonize a Bleacher Bum...

What does a mama bear on the pill have
in common with the World Series? No cubs.

Harry Caray

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