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Friday Morning: Rockies hitting the thighmasters and lots of other things

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Well, I don't know if that's true, but Clint Barmes is sandbagging in a good way as well as Matt Holliday and others in the offseason strengthening program according to the Denver Post's Patrick Saunders. Core strengthening, too. Excellent. Now I can feel happier about my morning pilates knowing that my Rockies are also trying to firm up their abs.

Anyway, over at the Rocky Mountain News Tracy Ringolsby says pretty much the same thing about this offseason's FA class as I've said, which is the same thing that Charlie Monfort says:

"What we saw out there (this offseason), there were no game changers," managing general partner Charlie Monfort said. "We felt the players who were available would make a marginal difference and we are better off to save money and wait for that impact player to surface. If you have a chance to sign a game changer, you re-evaluate the budget.

As Ringolsby points out, however, the test really comes next offseason when that excuse doesn't hold water anymore. I would argue that there were a couple of game changers out there this year, but that they didn't profile well, or had enough question marks to make signing them too big a risk for a mid-market club that acts like a small market club. JD Drew, for example, would have been  a huge upgrade in center, were we to know that he was capable of playing center (probably more likely than Darin Erstad) and if there wasn't as much injury concern.

At any rate, for next season, Ringolsby's been angling for Torii Hunter for awhile now, as he mentions him again in this piece as well as Andruw Jones. Either one would be a fantastic pick-up, and if I believed that ownership wasn't going to belly-ache about how the bidding got too high and they just can't compete in this environment, I'd be excited about the possibility. Unfortunately, there still could be several big market clubs looking for centerfielders next year, depending on how certain prospects like Felix Pie and Ryan Sweeney develop, which make me troubled about our chances. By the way, Jeff Sackmann of Brew Crew Ball and other places, takes a more in depth look at next year's free agent class at the Hardball Times.

Andruw in purple has always been a fantasy of mine...

Keeping with the money and free agents theme, in reading the Todd Helton trade saga as a cautionary tale for other clubs signing big contracts, USA Today's Bob Nightengale gets an obvious quote from White Sox GM Kenny Williams:

"There will be some sort of market correction as a result of these contracts," Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams said. "Some of these same teams will be cash-strapped, and others will have realized they've been extended beyond their resources."

Rich Lederer at Baseball Analysts continues his series analyzing the K and GB rates of minor league pitchers, this time stopping in AA, where Ubaldo Jimenez had a somewhat impressive showing, but Steven Register had anything but. Meanwhile, Eric Simon at Amazin' Avenue reminds me how ingrateful Mets fans are. Not only did we take Mike Hampton off their hands, but in doing so we gave them Aaron Heilman and one David Wright (via the compensatory draft picks). So where's our thank you gift basket? Finally, yesterday the Post's Troy Renck held a chat as they're trying to get all cyber on us over there. Anyway, here's the one tidbit that kind of frightened me:

Troy Renck: Hard to tell until I lay my eyes on the candidates at spring training. There's also a real possibility that Byung-Hyun Kim could be traded, further clouding the race. If Kim is traded, I would guess Fogg as No. 4 and Jason Hirsh as No. 5, with Brian Lawrence joining the rotation in early May. Most baseball executives I spoke to loved the Rockies' trade of Jason Jennings, believing they got the better of the deal. Hirsh is the key to that trade. He's been the Double-A and Triple-A pitcher of the year in his leagues.

It's frightening because a three-four punch of Lopez and Fogg is going to intimidate nobody. I suspect the possibility of Kim being traded is only because nobody's willing to take Josh off our hands, or at least I hope that's what the case is, because otherwise it sounds like management has its priorities backwards in dealing off starting pitchers.