Wednesday Rockpile: Rockies Enter Home Stretch of Spring Training

It's getting to be the time of spring where I finally feel like baseball is back. From now until Opening Day (the countdown is now at just 9 days), starters will playing the majority of the game, the late innings won't be filled so much by prospects and NRIs as those reps will be taken by candidates for bench jobs and the bullpen. If this were the NFL, it would the equivalent of the third preseason game -- the only one that may have some predictive value on Colorado's 2011 outlook. Alright, so it still isn't a lot of predictive value, but it's a palatable substitute for real baseball.

Steve Foster of ITR breaks down the remaining questions that the Rockies need to sort out. Here are my answers to his questions:

Who will be the fifth starter? It's got to be Esmil Rogers at this point. While I would have liked to have seen Felipe Paulino be given more of a look as a starter, Rogers has the potential and the stuff to really shine as a back of the rotation pitcher. Clayton Mortensen and John Maine have lower ceilings than Rogers, though it could certainly be argued that Maine's floor is higher.

Who will be the left-handers in the bullpen? The answer to this question is the answer that we had going in to spring -- Matt Reynolds and Franklin Morales. For all of his struggles with command, Morales absolutely needs to be on the roster, if nothing else for his strikeout stuff and the fact that he doesn't have any options left. While I'm definitely a believer in Rex Brothers, he's the sort of relief arm that I'd like to see put in some high leverage situations at AAA before he jumps right into MLB. Reynolds isn't a guy that I'm necessarily thrilled about, but he's a decent bridge until Brothers has some AAA experience.

Where does Jose Lopez fit in? Well, you probably know where I stand on this one. I certainly hope that Lopez proves himself to be the best option as the starter at second base. I believe that he is, but the continued success of Jonathan Herrera is lessening my conviction in that opinion. Ultimately, I think that the money and potential will give Lopez the opportunity to prove himself as the Opening Day starter.

Will the Rockies make a move? The Rockies have a history of making moves near the end of spring training as other teams have a surplus of decent players that are squeezed out of the roster, like with Jason Hammel and Tampa Bay in 2009. I don't see any Jason Hammel type players out there right now and the roster looks pretty full, so I would say that a major league piece probably won't be acquired. However, the option to trade one of the many 2B options Colorado has amassed for a lower level prospect is certainly a keen possibility.

On the whole, Colorado looks to be in pretty good shape going into 2011 from a roster-building perspective.

Off-Topic.

Links

Jim Armstrong has another story about Todd Helton, namely how he likes the lack of attention from the media.

Rockies fans, please pick a good walk-up song for Troy Tulowitzki. Please. I don't want to hear Miley Cyrus again.

Yahoo Sports' Mark Townsend writes about the precipitous decline of Garrett Atkins, who was cut by Pittsburgh recently.

Finally, the only reason that I'm linking to this Mark Kiszla article about Carlos Gonzalez is because I want to comment on his last sentence:

Unless Gonzalez plays like a bona fide superstar, there's no way Colorado can make the playoffs.

 Quite frankly, this statement is a little extreme. CarGo is very important to the Rockies' offense, but if he struggles the Rockies will still have a great pitching staff, a deep bench, and lots of players with great offensive potential. Colorado has the potential to be a playoff team even without CarGo.

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