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Tuesday Rockpile: Dexter Fowler inches closer to roster spot at the expense of Matt Murton

[A NOTE FROM RUSS]: Before I let Poseidon's Fist provide today's Rockpile, I just want to mention that you'll be able to see great photos like the above from now on. SBN recently struck a deal with the AP that allows us to use their photos. We'll be able to have photos taken during the game as soon as they are uploaded by the photographer (something like 15 minutes, I'm told).

The Death of Meth Smirton

Matt Murton, a favorite for the fourth outfielder position since his acquisition, learned Monday that his strong spring was not enough to earn him a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Meth Smirton Li_l_rox_girl_medium

#7-14 / Left Field / Colorado Rockies





Feb 04, 2009

Mar 30, 2009

With Murton being sent to AAA, it appears that the Rockies will choose two reserve outfielders from among Dexter Fowler, Scott Podsednik and Daniel Ortmeier. Of the four, only Podsednik has had a poor spring:

Fowler 61 .311 0 4 .362 .443 .389
Murton 53 .302 2 5 .362 .453 .392
Ortmeier 52 .288 3 9 .383 .538 .435
Podsednik 46 .217 0 4 .373 .283 .343

This pretty much guarantees an element of speed on the roster, as either Fowler or Podsednik will make the team. Given the redundency of their speed, that pretty much guarantees Ortmeier a spot if they go with five outfielders. Ringolsby has Fowler and Ortmeier leading the race. Last year in the final week, the front office made what to me was a suspect move.

This qualifies as the eyebrow raiser for 2009. Given that Podsednik is left-handed and Fowler and Ortmeier are switch-hitters, the only right-hander in the mix has been eliminated despite an impressive spring. If Jeff Baker is indeed traded, the only pure RH bat on the bench will be . . . Yorvit Torrealba? Still, Clint Hurdle says Murton will be back.

Other Casualties

Two members of the Matt Holliday trade were also optioned to Colorado Springs. Victims of lackluster springs, both Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez were optioned to AAA. C Paul Phillips, LHP Randy Flores and C Edwin Bellorin were also reassigned to minor league camp. The Rockies also cut Josh Fogg just hours after a strong outing Monday against Arizona.

More Notes

-Ed Price from MLB FanHouse reports the Rockies are interested in Rays RHP Jason Hammel. Hammel is competing with Jeff Niemann for the #5 rotation slot. Both are out of options and would not clear waivers, so the loser of the battle will be traded. If the Rockies acquire Hammel, he would presumably replace Franklin Morales in the rotation or slip into the bullpen. The Rays want a prospect from AA or lower.

Jason Hammel

#49 / Pitcher / Tampa Bay Rays





Sep 02, 1982

-Jhouyls Chacin will start the season in AA Tulsa, earning the Opening Day nod for the third year in a row. Jack Etkin cites Colorado Springs weather and Drillers pitching coach Bryan Harvey as reasons for the decison.

-Tracy Ringolsby reports that the Rockies had the highest Spring Training attendance since 1998. Given the economy and drops in attendance in the Cactus League, that accomplishment is notable.

-Brian Cartwright at FanGraphs evaluates the accuracy of the projection models for the past few years. CHONE and Oliver appeared to be most accurate league-wide, though Marcel and Bill James projections were omitted.