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Thursday Morning Rockpile:

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Okay, let's go over the math, right now the Rockies have four candidates with middle infield experience for the second base job, plus two more trying to make a switch. That's six, right? Everybody with me so far? Okay, so Troy E. Renck says that the Rockies will deal Clint Barmes and Jamey Carroll "if the Rockies sign a second baseman, namely Tadahito Iguchi."

So we have to go up to seven in order to come back down to five? Tracy Ringolsby makes a bit more sense:

While agents for Tadahito Iguchi, Marcus Giles and Mark Loretta have been in contact with Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd, they have been put on hold.

With the surplus of in-house second base candidates, indications are the Rockies want to trade Barmes and/or Jamey Carroll before looking to add other second basemen.

I think putting the pieces together from the two reports, plus adding in what we learn from Thomas Harding at the official site, a fairly clear picture emerges of what's happening:

-Tadahito Iguchi is our top free agent target at the moment, but the Rockies are being careful not to give him too much leverage by stressing how we're comfortable with in-house candidates.

-Mark Loretta would have been a serious option, but since the Rockies aren't going to go over what he'll likely get in arbitration with the Astros, he's on the backburner.

-Regardless, the Rockies will deal at least one of the pair of Barmes or Carroll in the next few days, and will only hold onto the other until the situation with Iguchi is resolved.

-After the situation with Iguchi is resolved, the other of the Barmes/Carroll pair is likely to be dealt as soon as next Spring when the team will be able to take a serious look at Nix, Stewart and Baker.

-Omar Quintanilla has barely been mentioned in the starting mix, but not at all in trade talk. I think the Rockies intent is to keep him as a defensive role player and injury back-up. A much cheaper version of what Jamey Carroll brought to the team last season.

-St. Louis was the only common team mentioned in both the Ringolsby and Renck pieces as interested in Barmes, so I assume it's the Cardinals that will be giving us the "low level prospect" if Renck's sources are correct that O'Dowd has the "pieces in place" to make the deal.

-Does that mean Carroll is the one that goes to Cleveland? I only see that happening if the Indians trade Josh Barfield first. Florida only works if the Rox eat a healthy portion of Jamey's salary. Either way, I don't know if we get much of promise for him.

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Back to the major theme of the Ringolsby piece, it's that the Rockies are reaching out to their players, and so far these deals aren't too far off what the market is currently saying. Jennings' three year $24 million offer seems small in retrospect (or maybe not given his 2007) but it was made before the bump in salaries of last season's free agent crop occurred. This offer to Cook seems pretty reasonable, and I suspect that's why the sides are close to a deal.

I wouldn't be so fast to dismiss the Dodgers signing of Andruw Jones as some are, as I see it as a precursor to them getting their pick of Dan Haren or Erik Bedard as well by making Matt Kemp more expendable. Haren, Penny, Lowe, Billingsley and Kershaw will be every bit as frightening a rotation as Boston's and the lineup of Furcal, Martin, Jones, Kent, Loney, LaRoche, Ethier and Pierre is pretty scary until the end there. Luckily I expect they'll take some of the pressure off by batting Pierre earlier, but we'll be doing them a similar favor with Taveras.

Luckily their outfield defense will remain fairly wretched, but that's an extremely difficult team to work around.

I'll probably put up a Rule 5 recap after the draft this morning to see who we lost, and in the unlikely event that we picked somebody. In case you didn't read the link in yesterday's comments, Baseball America's Chris Kline indicates that the Padres are after Tampa Bay's first pick to get Brian Barton, and Shane Lindsay is getting mulled over by several teams as a possible selection.