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Friday Rockpile: Rockies Climbing the Ladder in NL West

WolfMarauder is writing Rockpiles now? Since when? Since now. I'm your new Friday Rockpile guide, drowning you in links from around the web.

After San Diego lost to the Cardinals late yesterday evening, the Rockies moved just a game and a half back from the Wild Card spot, and sit comfortably back in the thick of the division. While we all know that following the division numbers with 115 games remaining does nothing for dictating their final format, we are approaching an important anniversary: the firing of Clint Hurdle, which occurred 364 days ago today. This marked the most important shift in momentum of the 2009 season for the Rockies, as the Rockies played their way back into contention and never looked back. With the Rockies having set their longest winning streak (and the longest current streak in MLB) of the season at five games, and coming off their first sweep of 2010, we may be celebrating our 2009 turnaround with one of our own.

Rockies News's Thomas Harding gives us some player reactions to Seth Smith, Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Spilborghs' back-to-back-to-back home runs yesterday. He also provides some thoughts from Jim Tracy and Rafael Betancourt on his performance so far this year.

"We just have to keep working with this situation knowing full well that this season is not going to end on Monday and there's plenty of opportunity for him to end where we want him to be." - Jim Tracy on Rafael Betancourt

"It's been two months and I don't like to think that I still have four months. I don't like that. People are going to see that I have four months to recover, but for me, it's every game." - Rafael Betancourt on Rafael Betancourt

John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at who the best pitcher in the NL may be. The article is available here at ESPN and here at BP. Both require subscriptions to read in their entirety.

The national Ubaldomania continues as ESPN ponders whether Ubaldo Jimenez's start to the season is baseball's best story so far. Troy Renck lets us in on just how impressive some aspects of Jimenez's game have been so far.

Franklin Morales tossed two innings of one hit baseball last night in the Sky Sox game, with 2 K and a hit batter. Morales' return, followed by Taylor Buchholz and Huston Street, will yield a slew of roster moves in the pen. Stretching Morales out while we have the chance is a great idea, as it not only increases his value, but may solve our need of a long reliever, as Esmil Rogers is likely to be one of the victims of The Great Bullpen Purge.

Transactions news and more from around the league after the jump.

A couple of notable minor league transactions to discuss (be prepared for an unloading of transactions news on Friday; they're about the only area I know what I'm talking about):

Though having gone largely unreported so far, Paul Phillips has cleared waivers and has accepted assignment to the Sky Sox. As of this writing, he is currently on the minor league reserves list. He may be taken off today. I wonder how long Paul Lo Duca is really going to need to stay here.

Matt Eddy over at Baseball America has released this week's minor league transactions list. The Rockies have released Tulsa 3B Kenny Perez, who had been demoted after spending most of the season at Colorado Springs last season. They also released C Dayton Buller, who didn't have a place left for him on any of the minor league teams.

Around the League

ESPN's Jayson Stark points out some of the more "under the radar" team acquisitions of the past year, and shows how some of their paying off. Among the subjects is the Phillies' signing of Jose Contreras.

Current Cub and former Rockie utilityman Jeff Baker suddenly lost vision in one eye during a game yesterday. He was removed, and was taken to a vision specialist.

Matt Langer, Dodger fan and fellow recent USC grad (though out of the Marshall School of Business, so as a Cinematic Arts major, I don't actually know him), is going on an epic 39 day marathon of all 30 MLB stadiums. While he is not setting any kind of record, he is writing some very detailed and interesting blog posts about his experiences. For the record, he will only be watching one Rockies game, when he comes to Coors Field on June 18. He has already visited the Padres, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Astros, Rays and Marlins.