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Monday Morning Rockpile:

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Lessons every young pitcher should be taught: you don't plunk Matt Holliday and expect to get away with it for very long. After Wes Littleton took a piece of Matt in the fourth (immediately followed by Littleton giving up a two run shot to Brad Hawpe) Matt came back in the sixth in his next and final at bat of the day with one of his signature blasts off Rick Bauer. The description of the homerun, and the post plunking circumstance that led to it, reminded me of the bomb Holliday laid on Matt Cain September 19 of last season, the one that flew over the left field stands and reached the concourse. Wait, no this one is worth seeing again, go to the official site's September highlights, scroll down to the game on the 19th, and then click on "Holliday's 29th homer". Watch how he totally takes pwn3rship of Cain afterwards. Yeah, you're next Padres, Matt still owes you for Doug Brocail.

That September homerun was the longest in the majors last season by the tape measure, but of course park effects take it down in the standardized rankings a bit. I bring this HR up, not only because Matt hit another one off the Rangers yesterday, but because John Beamer at the Hardball Times predicts the Rockies to finish behind the Giants this season. Take a look at the highlight one more time. What is Matt saying to Cain there? Personally, I think he says:

"You Giants have finished ahead of the Rockies for the last time, Cain. 2007 comes and you'll be our fluffy little lapdog."

And I see no reason not to believe him. As for the rest of the division and Beamer's prediction (as well as that of BP and other places) I think it's important to look at the measly eight game spread and realize that there's still too much parity to discount any team in the division this season and it's not going to take that many breaks for the Rockies to win it outright. In other words, we might not be favorites, but we're close enough that it doesn't really matter.

I've been saying for some time that Arizona is much better on paper this year than they will probably be in real life, mainly because all these stat sites are predicting from past performance four healthy workhorses in that rotation to have a standard rate of decline. The truth is that we already know RJ's not healthy, Webb will miss a at least a turn at the beginning of the season due to a tweak in his neck, Davis had health issues last season and that the two Gonzalez' at the bottom of their rotation right now aren't particularly good. That doesn't even get to Livan Hernandez, who feels fine and healthy, but who also is sporting a 13.06 ERA this Spring. Spring stats are meaningless, but as the Rockies can attest with Rodrigo Lopez and Byung Hyun Kim, having your pitchers get jacked on a regular basis during Spring still has meaning.