Wednesday Rockpile: Great Expectations of Rockies for 2010

Well, Rowbots, it's the last day of March, a mere five days from Opening Day for the Rockies. It's been a great spring so far for the Rockies, and optimism is in the air. So much optimism that this Rockpile runs nearly 1000 words in length--but more Rockies news is better, right?

Space on the 2010 Colorado Rockies' bandwagon is still available, but it's going fast. While there were a bunch of positive stories about the Rockies in yesterday's Rockpile, the media has decided to continue showering praise on Colorado as Opening Day swiftly approaches. Heck, I didn't even have to go far looking for them...our loyal Rowbots highlighted a few of them with FanShots.

To wit:

Gammons: Six teams to watch | MLB.com: News
(H/T to Rox4brains) Peter Gammons, perhaps the most respected baseball writer, continues his offseason of praise for the Rockies, calling for them to win the NL West--a division that he lauds in the article as very strong.

Baseball Nerd: 2010 Forecasts: NL West

Meanwhile, national political commentator (and self-professed Baseball Nerd) Keith Olbermann gives a decent account of the NL West in 2010. Olbermann foresees a runaway win for the Rockies and a poor year for the Dodgers. Let's hope it pans out that way. (H/T to Rox4brains again)

National League West a Rockies Road - MLB News - FOX Sports on MSN
Tracy Ringolsby writes a national piece for Fox Sports forecasting a Rockies win in a balanced NL West, noting that the Rockies are one of only two MLB teams to never win a division title. They're due. Fox also has a lengthy Rockies Team Report up with more in-depth coverage. (H/T to prettyinpurple)

2010 MLB N.L West Division Betting Odds | Online Sports Handicapping
Finally, some oddsmakers have spoken, and the Rockies are favorites for the NL West in 2010, coming in at +150, at least on this site. You know, if gambling were legal outside of Nevada.

I certainly don't mind the positive national attention. While some may feel like the Rockies are being hexed, I'm of the opinion that this recognition is long overdue--and I don't believe in hexes. Guaranteeing a NL West crown in early March is indicative of that.

Meanwhile, Troy Renck has noticed the parade of sunshine following the Rockies, and he has a few potential problems for the Rockies to overcome (but graciously also provides viable solutions to said problems).

More Rockies news and analysis after the jump... 

The other big news of the day was the distinct possibility of lefty starter Greg Smith beginning the season in the long relief role out of the bullpen. Smith has pitched very well in Cactus League action (3 runs in 15.2 IP) and as Ringolsby writes, he certainly fits the profile Jim Tracy wants in the bullpen, by which I mean that he can throw multiple innings and is lefthanded. Smith has been a reliever before briefly in college and the minors, so he has some comfort with the role.

This sentiment is echoed by Jim Armstrong of the Post, but he adds the theory (which I agree with) that Smith would be holding the place of Joe Beimel until the Rockies are convinced he is ready. Also mentioned in the article is the optioning of Eric Young Jr. to AAA, which was the expected move. EY2 will serve as the Rockies' injury insurance. In addition, most of the other non-roster players in major league camp were assigned to the minors, including veterans Jay Payton and Paul Lo Duca.

Renck also has a mailbag up, wherein he answers questions about several Rockies, including Jorge De La Rosa, as well as the roles of each coach on the Rockies' staff.

PurplePassion highlighted a very interesting (and sad but funny) article about former Rockie Neifi Perez by Salon.com's excellent King Kaufman in a FanShot. I've written a little about Perez before--here's what I said:

Neifi Perez is one of the biggest scam artists in MLB history. I mean, how else can you characterize his 11 year career? He was signed out of the DR as a 19 year old and was the starter as a 24 year old. Perez played for the Rockies for parts of six seasons and posted a negative WAR figure in three of them.  

...

In his 11 year career, Perez produced a total of 0.0 WAR and was paid $21 million to do it. That's one heck of an expensive replacement player.

The fact that the Rockies traded Perez to the Royals for a young Jermaine Dye in 2001--and then traded Dye to the A's that same day for Todd Belitz, Mario Encarnacion, and Jose Ortiz (???)--makes the story all the more bizarre and unfortunate.

Finally, as has been discussed in yesterday's Rockpile and in philkid3's Fanpost, Fangraphs revealed the Rockies to be the #7 organization in MLB (and #1 in the National League), evaluating the team's current and future talent. With the exception of Matt Klaassen's negative evaluation of Dexter Fowler (which he has stated that he regretted), I find these articles to be pretty spot on.

They still can't figure out why we have Brad Hawpe playing and hope that Iannetta will get the lion's share of starts--they are looking at it from a sabermetric bent, after all--and they wonder whether the $3 million the Rockies spent on Giambi and Mora might have better been spent on the bullpen. I'm in disagreement with Dave Cameron on this one, as I actually believe the Rockies' bullpen will be very strong in 2010, but on the whole it is great work.

The next Rockpile I write will have actual regular season baseball results. Yeah, I'm excited.

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