Friday Rockpile: Grapefruit League Considerations, Rockies Uniform Numbers, Jason Giambi

I was really hoping that the full list of NRIs would be released at the end of the day so I would have something of substance to talk about that wouldn't lead to one of my desultory and confusing blog posts. Alas, nada. Perfect.

We did learn yesterday via the Rockies Twitter account that among those joining major league camp would be starting pitchers Keith Weiser and Alan Johnson. I still expect, at the very least, Rex Brothers, Charles Blackmon and Greg Smith to also receive invites, with Christian Friedrich as another solid possibility. I should also expect some players with MLB experience but not a guaranteed invite, such as Jeff Salazar and Tug Hulett, to show up there when all is said and done as well.

Spring Training this year is going to represent a significant change for Rockies players during their experience, not only with the new facility itself, but its proximity to the rest of the Cactus League. Years previous, the Rockies spent the majority of their time playing other Tucson teams, often seeing 4-6 games against them each Spring. Worse yet were the minor leagues, which rarely got the chance to compete against the Phoenix based organizations. The move should improve the variety for both Colorado and Arizona's organizations, and as for the MLB team, the schedule emphasizes early competition between the two divisional rivals setting up camp at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, but the majority of the schedule is anything but repetitive. This all goes without even mentioning the two hour trips to and from home while based in Tucson. The team may be a little less anxious to conserve their regulars for home games.

The reason this is on my mind would be this article from Fangraphs author Alex Remington regarding the current status of the Grapefruit League, which currently occupies a wide range of Southern Florida, largely unaffected by the consolidation of the Cactus League. The article was discussed at length in the comments of yesterday's Rockpile.

The article goes straight to the point with this statement:

If Florida is serious about Spring Training, they can’t afford to keep teams on both coasts.

Some have considered the idea of moving the entirety of Spring Training to Arizona, but because of the far more significant financial and legal complications of a move that momentous, I'd focus instead on the simpler (but hardly actually simple) possibility of keeping the Grapefruit League, and simply improving its efficiency for all involved by consolidating it into a smaller area.

The politics of Spring Training will obviously extend far beyond the reach of the state of Florida itself, as various communities that already contain facilities for Spring Training have their interests at stake. If an effort were to be made on the part of the state in cooperation with MLB to move the teams from one side of the state to another, there'd likely be a lot of local communities calling foul. And that's only the tip of the iceberg regarding the difficulties here. There are concerns regarding location contracts, the amount of tourists that would be attracted to one location instead of many (and the revenue associated with that as seen from both the state and city perspectives)

Off-Topic

While researching this topic for my own benefit, I discovered this article from 2009 by Pete Toms of The Biz of Baseball. The article gives a brief history of FLA vs. ARI team wars, eventually discussing a supposed effort to lure the Chicago Cubs from Arizona to Naples, Florida. Please read it, as it provides a concise breakdown of several of the factors at play here.

In other news:

Some Rockies 2011 uniform numbers. Notable changes include Eric Young Jr. from 3 to 1, and Franklin Morales from 56 to Jeff Francis' old 26. Also from Thomas Harding is this article on why Jason Giambi has a good shot to make the team out of Spring Training.

"He really gets his role with the Rockies and he's pretty successful at it. After a trip to Kansas City, when he got to be our designated hitter and got some at-bats, he excelled at it." - Jim Tracy

Andy Pettitte Retires. The linked story there is from ESPNNewYork's Wallace Matthews, and I encourage you to read it, but beware the auto-playing video. I know those are frustrating. I also thought I'd link to this nice article from Brandon C. over at SB Nation's own Pinstripe Alley. The news was broken by Michael Kay via Twitter. MLBTradeRumors compiled a whole batch of reactions.

Is he a HoF candidate? Discuss. Here's Jayson Stark's take.

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