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Thursday Morning Rockpile:

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Matthew Carruth at the Hardball Times points out that Jeff Francis' improvement in his ERA last season was BABIP driven. The drop from .332 to .264 is vast, and in Carruth's words, "likely accounting for the entirety of the improvement" in ERA. That said, 2005's .332 BABIP seems high, so while a regression for Jeff this season seems likely, I don't think he'll fall back that far, particularly if he can experience some maturing and progression with his peripherals.

Tracy Ringolsby and Troy Renck both indicate the slugging we gave the White Sox yesterday was evidence that the lineup switch of Helton to clean-up and Holliday to fifth is a good thing. I think as long as all four horsemen are hitting on all cylinders like that, it doesn't matter what order we put them in.

Patrick Saunders has more on the steps Aaron Cook is taking to prove himself a top of the rotation pitcher. As I indicated below, the process has seemingly taken off well if yesterday was any measure.

One of Dan O'Dowd's Special Assistants, Marcel Lachemann, played an influence in the courting of Darin Erstad this winter according to Mark Gonzalez of Lachemann was Erstad's first manager in the big leagues. Meanwhile, I'm sure everybody's aware by now that one of O'Dowd's other special assistants, Vinny Castilla, has been named manager of team Mexico for the Pan-Am Games this summer. Congrats, Vinny!

I'll put up a game thread for today later this morning or early this afternoon.