Monday Rockpile: The Season is so close, I can almost SMELL it.

Good morning, Rowbots and Rowbettes alike. We are 1 week away from the season opener in Milwaukee, I've brushed off my grill for Hot Dogs, I've gone and bought one of those big bags of peanuts, and it's just about time for me to prepare and print my yearly scorebook. And because it's Monday morning, prepare yourself for a thousand-word Rockpile. I should probably have fewer opinions on things.

Leading off this morning is Troy Renck at the Denver Post, praising the Rockies defensive play. That Dexter Fowler putout of Rajai Davis really impressed, apparently, because it's being mentioned quite often. Renck does acknowledge the shaky start for Ian Stewart and Clint Barmes, but goes to on praise Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton. He closes the article with a great quote from Ubaldo Jimenez:

"When you know that they are going to catch the ball, it helps you mentally. You know you don't have to be perfect ... If you can get a three-pitch inning, there's nothing wrong with that. We believe in our defense."

Tracy Ringolsby chimed in again yesterday morning to remind us that scouts are calling us the hands-down favorites in the NL West, citing our strong bench, the Dodgers' lack of pitching options (thanks to Joe Torre wearing down bullpen arms and the fact that they're resorting to Vicente Padilla as their opening day starter), the Giants' shaky defense, the Diamondbacks' lack of Brandon Webb and questions on the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of Edwin Jackson, and...well, he doesn't have much more to say about the Padres than we do.

Additonally in the same article, Ringolsby also cites scouts in saying that Ian Stewart's improved plate aggressiveness has turned some heads, and that he's using the entire outfield now.

No spring would be complete without injury to a key player, however, and we've all been reviling the stiff shoulder of closer Huston Street. Tracy Ringolsby is reporting that Huston Street is shooting for a late-April return, and the Associated Press echoes this. Street is pretty frustrated by this, because he feels like they've tried just about everything. He tried resting it, that didn't work. He's working on a throwing program and that doesn't seem to be helping (but they're going to stick with it anyhow). The MRIs are negative, and apparently improving, but Street is a month out of locking down 9th innings again. Maybe they should try leeches. The AP tells us to look forward to Franklin Morales as the closer. I'm gonna go ahead and invest in Tums and Maalox, make a quick buck on the Colorado market.        

Don't think you've gotten off that easily, click past the jump for more.

Rox Girl mentioned Chad Gaudin yesterday, and it made me kind of sad for the guy seeing how his agent "has called the Rockies looking for work, but team isn't interested." I mean, I'm glad that we have the pitching depth where Gaudin is unnecessary, but it just sounded so hopeless and despondent, it made me want to pat the guy on the back and say "don't worry buddy you'll land somewhere". Well, Gaudin reached an agreement with the Oakland Athletics yesterday, so I can feel a little less sad for the guy.

But speaking of feeling sad for pitchers, Tim Redding's blowup on mound yesterday probably not only cost him his job with the Rockies, but with another team as well. Ringolsby, in that same gem-laden article tells us that Seattle had a scout on hand for the game, and they weren't very impressed. He'll probably end up in AAA unless we just cut him. I don't mean to say that I don't want the guy to have a job, but if he's really as poor of an attitude and a teammate as all we've heard, I'd REALLY rather not have a sourpuss in Colorado Springs with Jhoulys Chacin, Esmil Rogers, and Sam Deduno. Like they say, AA is for players moving up, and AAA is for players coming down. Coming down probably carries its share of bitterness.

Again, with the news on NRI pitchers. Thomas Harding tells us about Justin Speier's outing on Sunday, and how it wasn't terribly impressive either. Granted, he got hurt by bad fielding (WHY IS EYJ IN CF WE HAVE 3 GUYS WHO CAN PLAY IT FAR BETTER AND BY THAT I MEAN COMPETENTLY), but decision makers for the team weren't pleased with the 2 hits and 2 walks allowed by Speier. The next best guy to make the team would be either Juan Rincon or Joe Beimel, and while I wouldn't want Rincon on the team, a not-ready Beimel might not be any better. Tracy is looking for a pitcher to pitch multiple innings in relief, and they've attempted to stretch Speier out a bit this spring, as Matt Belisle has reported forearm tightness at points and Rafael Betancourt probably won't be ready for multiple innings this early in the season. Manuel Corpas has been looked at for a multi-inning role as well. How the mighty have fallen. The good news is that Matt Daley owns and Randy Flores may not be completely awful.

Troy Renck brings us some news on Joe Beimel, confirming what we thought, that he's been throwing all winter. Did you realize that Matt Belisle hasn't allowed a run this spring?

Thomas Harding tells me all kinds of things I want to hear about Eric Young, Jr. Mostly because they confirm what I've already established as my stance. Excerpts:

In Sunday's game with the Athletics, Young knocked a slow roller into left field and hustled out a double in the second inning. In the sixth, he walked, stole second and stole third.

The Rockies have tried Young, a second baseman, at second, third, left field and center field this spring. The defensive results have been mixed, and he has struggled in the outfield ... In fairness, before rushing unnecessarily and dropping the fly ball in the seventh inning, Young made a couple of stellar plays on hard-hit balls at third base.

KEEP ERIC YOUNG OUT OF THE OUTFIELD JUST BECAUSE HE IS YOUTHFUL AND FAST DOES NOT MEAN HE IS AN OUTFIELDER WE HAVE 5 STARTING OUTFIELDERS ALREADY ARE YOU LISTENING JIM TELL ME ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME

One last gem that comes from out-of-town, the Arizona Daily Star profiles Troy Tulowitzki as an emerging leader for the Colorado Rockies. Citing good handling of pressure issues, defensiveness for teammates, and manager Jim Tracy's endorsement of the young man, Tulo should continue to lead this team to future glory. Nothing we didn't know, but between other news snippets and the last 2 Counting Rocks articles, it's good to hear that it's being recognized outside of the local beat.

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