Thursday Rockpile: On Opening Day Eve, we watch Opening Day...

While the Rockies are distracted by a purple Rhinoceros, a disembodied glove punches Jordan Pacheco in the face.

I'm really not sure I like this tiered Opening Day thing that baseball has going now, it's diluted the holy day to the point that I'm not sure which is the one that's most important. Is it the actual season opener between two specially chosen teams that occurs in some far distant foreign civilization a week before the rest of the league starts? Or is it the "featured" opening night, as in last night, that has two more specially chosen teams, and possibly a new stadium. Is it today, when a team like the Reds has it somehow grandfathered in that they always start game one on the first day of baseball in Cincinnati? Or is it tomorrow, when the Rockies and the rest of the pack finally start playing their seasons. Or is it the home opener for my own team the Rockies, which isn't until next week?

One common theme that's kind of interesting about NL West preview pieces when it comes to the Rockies is that while nobody wants to predict Colorado as division crown competitive, everybody wants to hedge their negative bets with regard to Colorado. Take D.B. Mitchell's preview for FoxNewsLatino, for instance, as he starts by writing off the Rockies and Padres completely for lack of pitching, but then backtracks for Colorado when commenting on the individual teams. This basically mirrors how I think most objective analysts will look at the team. The initial impression of the Rockies is not good, but upon closer inspection there's a relatively decent shot for being competitive in the division. Most analysts then seem to split the difference between their initial impression and the closer inspection and come away with an uneasy fourth or third place projection.

I actually think the Rockies can win the division, and whether they will or not will likely come down to having relatively better health or more players having peak seasons (or fewer having down years) than the other primary competitors. In other words, I think the stuff that we can't predict at all will determine the outcome of the National League West this season, the intangibles that not even Michael Cuddyer can impact. Without a clear separation between the top four teams, predicting a winner in the division this year (as I've come to the realization that it has been the last couple) is mostly an exercise in picking a personal favorite or showing a bias of some sort. My biases are that the Rockies are my favorite team and that I think they've done a more or less okay job in filling gaps this off season, so I choose them.

A few more links after the bump. I've got an errand or two to run before putting an OFF TOPIC post, but it should be up by noon eastern.

Off Topic

Patrick Saunders has a rundown of the stories surrounding the Rockies as they break camp, from old pitchers to the various injuries and poor performance that held back young players this Spring.

The Rockies claimed the now former Cardinals pitcher Adam Ottavino off of waivers. Ottavino has had some success in the minors but has had a fairly dismal go of it so far in his short MLB career, all in 2010. I'm guessing that he may be a temporary big league fix while Josh Outman recovers from puking his obliques out, with the hope that he can then be sent back to AAA later.

As the big league team prepares for their contest tomorrow without much buzz, some of the news this morning is coming from minor league quarters since those teams have finalized their rosters.

Nolan Arenado will start the season with Tulsa, where he represents the most hyped player to start with the Drillers since Troy Tulowitzki.

Meanwhile, in Modesto, Kyle Parker gets a closer look as his team's most famous player. Unfortunately for the Rockies and Parker, almost all of that notoriety still comes from his exploits as a Clemson football player than it does from his baseball career.

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