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Wednesday Morning Rockpile:

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It's certain that you have to take Spring statistics with a grain of salt. In fact, you can safely just throw out the statistics in March altogether without any loss of your understanding of the game, but that doesn't mean you should look at Spring performances as meaningless. For an extreme example, if you have a starting pitcher blow up like Noah Lowry did for the Giants the other day, it's advisable to become very worried about the state of your rotation. On the other hand, a more moderately poor performance like Ubaldo Jimenez's yesterday needs more scrutiny. In that instance, articles like this help as you can see some of the process that made a good pitcher have a bad day. That U-ball's mechanics went out of whack while he was working on controlling the running game makes sense. Of course, that leaves us with the probability that either the same happens during the regular season, or he just says screw it Greg Maddux-like and lets runners have their way with him.

I don't know if teams consciously do this or not, but it seems whenever there's a "battle" for a certain roster spot in Spring, the coaches and front office have a hard time hiding which direction they're leaning. For the favorite, you'll get a steady flow of positive feedback, gushing reports of his progress, and just a general sense of the inevitability of his securing the position. The flip side will see players' weaknesses brought up more frequently, how x looks sluggish, how he can't cover as many positions as y, how he's not experienced, etc... So with that in mind, this report on Franklin Morales is part of what's giving me a sort of sinking suspicion that he's destined for AAA at the start of the season. The Patrick Saunders article dwells on him as an unfinished product, with as much attention given to his blow up in relief in the World Series as there is to the remarkable regular season he started his career with in a Rockies uniform. I think Frankie's still capable of winning the job outright, I just see a little lean in the reports so far that say he's headed to the Springs.

Jeff Baker, on the other hand, already seems pretty much assured of a roster spot again, and he's making a strong push to come out of camp with much more than that, as he's quickly established himself in the second base derby with both his bat and glove. Ian Stewart actually seems most likely to be the one hardest hit by this for the moment, as he seems very likely to be headed to the Sky Sox as well.

The Monfort's 18-month player extension tab has risen to $103 million after the Brad Hawpe signing. Tracy Ringolsby points out that the Rockies now have $176.5 million in long term commitments.

By piecing together stuff on Garrett Atkins from the Ringolsby piece, this Thomas Harding article and Troy Renck's notes, a pretty complete picture emerges of where the team and its current third baseman are in regards to adding him to that group.

  1. Garrett Atkins is now willing to give the Rockies a hometown discount of some sort on a contract. Probably not a lot, Garrett comes off as very money savvy.
  2. An option year that extends Garrett into his free agency period was a deal breaker last year, but Atkins would be willing to revisit that if it's structured like Tulo's and Hawpe's contracts to give him an out.
  3. Garrett's fine with going the arbitration route for the next two seasons.
  4. The Rockies seem a little miffed at Garrett for insulting the offer they gave him last year, as well as Jeff Francis's deal, when he basically referred to them (and I'm assuming the offer to JJ) as below market during the offseason.
  5. Because of this, and because of Ian Stewart, Jeff Baker, Chris Nelson and everybody nearly ready on the farm, I think the Rockies have shelved the idea of a contract for Garrett for the time being, so despite Atkins' willingness to talk, no deal will be forthcoming.
  6. Don't ask me how this affects Matt Holliday, in fact, don't ask him. He tells Ringolsby in relation to the other signings:
"It is promising to see what's been done, but I don't know how that affects me," Holliday said.

At least we don't have malcontent along the lines of other teams with their young stars. Nick Markakis joins a growing list of pre-arbi players speaking out against the automatic contract renewals issued by their teams. It seems to be pointing to a pretty full free agency class four years from now.

Dan O'Dowd is following the blueprint he made with the Indians.

Gesa Stadium has added 600 box seats, the Pasco Washington home of our short season Tri-City Dust Devils affiliate has made significant improvements each of the last two years.