Alright, I'm ready for some fun in the Arizona sun, but already having lost a lot of time in the hot stove season, I don't know if I can do much justice to a Spring preview. Instead, I'll take a look at the forty-man and non roster invites in installments that might be a little different than what you are used to seeing, starting today with the stuff we don't have to worry so much about.
Completely useless chattle:
Most of this category is confined to the outfield this year, and unfortunately most of it is home-grown. Choo Freeman and Jeff Salazar haven't proved at all that they are ready for the major league experience in their extended stays in the Rockies' minors but unfortunately they have also exhausted their allotted time and now are a dead use of space on the roster. The hope is one or the other might prove to be a useful backup to Cory Sullivan, who technically isn't quite a starting cf caliber player to begin with either, but who's paying attention to that at this point. Either Freeman or Salazar could come into Spring and prove something, just like the UPN or WB still have a glimmer of time to prove capable of being a legitimate television network and Independence Air might actually bounce back and be a real airline. Right.
Jayson Nix is in the same boat, just a different position, unless the Rockies harbor ideas of converting him to a pitcher ala JJ Davis, don't count on Nix being held in th organization long into this year.
Unlike many years, the Rockies' NRI's are actually for the most part less laughable than usual. Sure, some of the pitchers are likely to blow up, but that's a given and really, while you or I might see Randy Williams' name on the list and say, "hey didn't we try that already? It didn't work, remember?" What the hell, I'm all for second chances today, so let him go into Spring and as long as he doesn't get near a whiff of any quality innings I won't press the panic button. Down on the list is one name which is more a Dan O'Dowd/Clint Hurdle fetish than most, I mean, Eli Marrero? Hmm, maybe I should just go ahead and ask my stylist for the "Rachel" and be as irrelevant and dated as my team. We'd match. It would be so cute.
Now, this is where comments come in and feel free to disagree, but as far as I can tell these are about the only air-tight locks to be of no use to the Rockies today, tomorrow or anywhere else on into the future. Everybody else has at least a less remote possibility of contributing something positive. Now I'm not saying that I'm expecting Keiichi Yabu to be some sort of dominant force or even necessarily any sort of force for the team, obviously there are degrees of value here and we'll get more into that later, but the bottom of our barrel seems generally higher this time around than it has in the past.
Not ready for this year:
These, of course, are the prospects that are on the list purely for protection purposes. Manuel Corpas, Ubaldo Jiminez, Juan Morillo, Ramon Ramirez and Eduardo Sierra as pitchers and maybe Omar Quintanilla as an infielder. Throw in NRI's like Jim Miller, Ian Stewart, Troy Tulowitzki, and Chris Iannetta to round out the crop of speculative goods that are only around for a little more experience rather than being really ready. The pitchers I mentioned first we'll be taking a close look at throughout 2006 as most are on the brink of busting out or just busting period. At any rate, this list is unready for the bigs and won't factor much in our talk about the likely makeup of the team on April 3, although Q admittedly might fit better in a category I'll go over tomorrow, that of prospects on the brink.