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Wednesday Rockpile: Street's Shoulder Stiff, Upton A D-Back Long-Term

After four months off of writing Rockpiles, I've got to get back into game shape, one early morning at a time...

The big news yesterday, besides the fact that the Rockies start playing Spring Training games tomorrow, was that the Rockies' closer and new recipient of a 3 year, $22.5 million contract, Huston Street, was experiencing shoulder stiffness and will be out of action at least through the weekend. Street says in Renck's article that he experienced similar stiffness twice last year from overcompensating from a groin injury--so in other words, there could be more wrong with Street than just the shoulder.

An AP report gives some positive news about the injury:

(Rockies Trainer) Keith Dugger said the inflammation felt by Street is "pretty normal" when pitchers "up the intensity a little bit" while going from bullpen sessions to batting practice.

"I would put last year's flare-up in September significantly more serious than what we're dealing with now," Street said. "And we came back in three weeks after that. We don't really have a timetable. But I want to be in games sometime soon."

After Street made an appearance Sept. 1 last season, he was sidelined with shoulder inflammation and didn't pitch again until Sept. 22. 

We're being told not to worry about shoulder stiffness here, folks, but if there's one thing that I worry excessively about, it is shoulder stiffness. At least Street doesn't need to see a doctor or get a MRI at this time.

Renck also mentions in the article that X-Rays showed that Greg Reynolds had a bone chip just above his elbow from being struck by a line drive in live BP Monday. Hopefully the chip will calcify quickly and won't turn into a Manny Corpas 2.0 situation. Also, Brad Hawpe will take BP today after recovering from an infection related to the removal of a hangnail. Lovely.

In other injury news, Jack Etkin reports that set-up man Rafael Betancourt threw BP yesterday after being derailed by a month-long virus that delayed his baseball preparations. In addition, pitching prospect Juan Nicasio is still recovering from breaking a nail on his pitching hand during the Rockies' intra-squad scrimmage. The right-hander will likely be out over the weekend.

The other big news of the day was that our perfidious NL West rivals to the Southwest, the Arizona Diamondbacks, somehow managed to lock up Justin Upton on a 6 year, $51.25 million deal. The deal keeps the 22 year-old Upton under Arizona control through the 2015 season, which includes his three arbitration years and first two years of free agency. ESPN's Rob Neyer calls the deal a good risk and I definitely agree with him. As Neyer says:

A deal like this accomplishes two things. It locks up a great young player at a reasonable cost and it relieves the organization from having to devote any brainpower to figuring out what Upton will cost and who's going to play right field.

Upton is not just a potential superstar--he's a probable one with his youth and five-tool skillset. CHONE projects him to be a 3.8 win player this year, and I believe that projection might be selling Upton short (Fangraphs readers have him pegged at 5.6 wins). This deal could (and probably will) turn out to be an absolute steal for the Diamondbacks--giving them a perennial All-Star at a discount as well as providing cost certainty.

So why did Upton take the deal when he could have made more on a year-to-year basis? Two reasons: one, he got the security and stability of a long-term guaranteed contract that will make him ridiculously wealthy in his early twenties. Two, he didn't want to go through was his older brother BJ just went through in Tampa, losing in a salary arbitration hearing. As I've written before, the process can be quite unpleasant.

In any case, I applaud this move by the DIamondbacks. It has little bearing on the 2010 season, as Upton would have been a member of the DBacks anyway, but it really gives them a solid base for future contending teams.

More links after the jump...

Rockies hoping to add to stolen base totals in 2010 | All Things Rockies

Jim Armstrong writes about the Rockies' improved base-running prowess in recent years.

Future in De La Rosa's hands - The Denver Post

Armstrong also writes about how Jorge De La Rosa is looking to repeat or build on his 2009 campaign. In the article Armstrong mentions that the Rockies offered JDLR about a 3 year, $11 million deal this offseason (which would have been a steal), but ended up signing the lefty to a 1 year, $5.6 million deal to buy out his last arbitration year. As Armstrong mentions in the text, if JDLR goes all Koufax on us, he'll likely be out of the Rockies' price range. The good news is that the Rockies have many replacements waiting in the wings, including...

Friedrich maturing on Rockies' mound | News

Lefty Christian Friedrich, who is enjoying his first major league camp, and...

Deduno harnessing movement of pitches | News

Righty Samuel Deduno, who was impressive in the intra-squad scrimmage, and even...

Hardball in the Rockies: Unlucky Reynolds feels lucky

Hard luck righty Greg Reynolds, who wasn't the second pick in the 2006 draft for nothing.

Hammel 'honored' to start in Rox opener | News
Jason Hammel is pleased to start off the Rockies' Spring Training slate tomorrow against the Diamondbacks.

The Max Info Blog - ESPN

As if you didn't already spend too much time reading about baseball, there is now a new blog for ESPN Insiders with a sabermetric slant, bringing you great commentary from Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus authors supported by ESPN's stats and research department. I'm excited with this new development and I love the new content.