Tuesday Rockpile: Spring Training Ends Today

Yes, that's right. After six weeks of hearing about (and for some, seeing) our boys in purple and black playing on the other side of Four Corners, the Rockies play their final game in the Cactus League today at 2:05 MDT. With a win or Kansas City loss, they will wrap up the Cactus League title, which means one important thing.

If you are reading this in Mexicali, Las Cruces, Las Vegas or anywhere within that circle, get in your car now and head to Scottsdale. It will be your last chance to see Salt River Fields at Talking Stick before the Rockies hang their World Series banner before next spring. What? The Cactus League championship worked for the Giants. Ergo, a Cactus League championship equals a World Series championship. (Please ignore that the same logic suggests the Rockies will defeat the Diamondbacks in the Fall Classic).

Okay, so spring record may not matter most. What does matter from spring?

  • Near impeccable health - We knew Aaron Cook would go down eventually, and he wasted no time. Otherwise, not a single Rockie projected to be on the 25-man roster has dealt with any significant issues. Compare to last season (Street, Betancourt, Francis, etc.).
  • Seth Smith is hitting left-handed pitching and hitting the ball the other way.
  • Todd Helton is a completely different man than we saw last spring.
  • While few jobs were really up for grabs, technically not a single player performed poorly enough to lose a job.
  • Quotes from players seem to suggest they feel more ready for the regular season having trained in Scottsdale rather than Tucson. It may be partially lip service, but there is reason to buy into some validity in those statements.
  • Feel free to add more in the comments.
With Opening Day now three (3!) days away, it would probably be a good time for everyone to go on record and pick the player(s) they expect to surprise in 2011, either with a good breakout, or a disappointing season. I don't feel any particular strong feelings here as I did last March, but I'll go Seth Smith with the good, Ian Stewart with the bad. I want to hear your reasons!

The Rockies acquired veteran non-roster infielder Josh Fields from the Pirates for a player to be named or cash | ColoradoRockies.com: News  Sure, Fields hit 23 home runs as a 24 year old in 2007, but that doesn't mean he'll be getting much playing time in Denver. Compare Fields to two other Rockies - Mike Jacobs (32 home runs at age 27 in 2008) and Jose Lopez (25 homers at age 25 in 2009). I wonder if Fields will beat out Eric Duncan for playing time in AAA.

Salt River Fields delivers in first Cactus League season | MLB.com: News  With attendance down slightly around the Cactus League (partially because of Senor Fats), the new Rockies' complex has brought in 22% of the overall Cactus League attendance to date. There are ten parks in the Cactus League.

Rockies' Street takes it slow and steady this time - The Denver Post  Last year, Todd Helton took it easy in Arizona and had a putrid season. Last year, Huston Street gave 100% from the first bullpen session, got injured and had a disappointing season. They are switching ideas this season. Todd Helton has held nothing back and supposedly feels great. Huston Street, who unbelievably is owed just $600k less than Helton on their respective contracts, is taking it easy. Matt Lindstrom is a decent back-up closer, but the Rockies bullpen is significantly better with a healthy Huston Street. Hopefully he (and Helton) can reprise 2009.

Parker: Opening-day play: Score free Rockies tickets - The Denver Post  If you want to go to Opening Day and don't have a ticket or a job (or you're off Wednesday), just loiter around Denver tomorrow looking for the color orange. FirstBank will be giving out 250 pairs of tickets to Friday's game.

VCU can host Tulo's NCAA pool party - The Denver Post  Players picked teams out of a "hat" to select who they would have winning the college NCAA basketball tournament. Troy Tulowitzki's bad luck turned incredibly fortunate. The mystique of Tulo is strong enough to cross the country and sports boundary to provide winnitude to Virginia Commonwealth University. If they inexplicably win the tournament, they had better invite our shortstop.

Rockies lineup looking A-OK with reduced K's - The Denver Post  Jim Armstrong writes that the Rockies are striking out less and having better approaches with two strikes. Let's see if that continues when they face major league pitchers who aren't intentionally "working on things" still. There are several other tidbits, including this:

According to reports out of the Bay Area, Rockies first baseman Jason Giambi may testify today in the perjury trial of Barry Bonds.

What a surreal scene that will be.

Rockies Mailbag: Bilocation not among Wigginton's wares - The Denver Post

Also, keep your eye on Fangraphs today. Their organization rankings series will be posting #12 up to #10 and potentially #9 today. The Rockies placed 10th in 2010.

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