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Thursday Rockpile: On Talking Sticks and Salt Rivers

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Hopefully we'll have more about the Rockies new Spring facility today, as Purple Row member ricola22 toured the site and brought back some cool pictures. In the meantime, check out the numbers:

Salt River Fields by the numbers -

D-backs impressed with new Spring facility

"Culture eats strategy for lunch"

Kirk Gibson


Speaking of numbers, I was going to try and avoid all mention of WAR in today's Rockpile, but Justin Bopp's chart at Beyond the Boxscore was just too pretty for me to resist:

2005 Draft Results: Career WAR to Date - Beyond the Box Score

WAR eats culture for lunch.

Regina-born pitcher Dustin Molleken headed to desert for Colorado Rockies training camp - As I mentioned in yesterday's Joe Crede thread, former Pirates organizational right hander Dustin Molleken has signed a minor league contract with the Rockies and appears slated for AAA. Molleken's a hard throwing RHP, and could be a sleeper to possibly see some action with the Rockies this season. He had a 4.15 ERA out of the pen with AA Altoona in 2010, but a 3.00 FIP and a 3:1 K:BB ratio. He wasn't ever given a serious look by the Pirates, so there's obviously plenty of reason to keep expectations fairly low, but there definitely seems to be some upside with this move.


The Third Act: Jason Giambi Returns To The Rockies - SB Nation Denver - Dan Lucero breaks down the Giambi acquisition.

Is he a great fit for the 2011 Rockies? That's debatable. His presence on the roster is based on the idea that players like Ty Wigginton, Jonathan Herrera and Eric Young Jr. could handle the outfield - which, well, I can pick up a stick and wave it in the air, but that doesn't mean I should conduct the Boston Pops.

Dan's apparently unaware of how low the Boston Pops' standards for conducting really are:


Ty Wigginton has been at least a league average outfielder in his career, spending significant time there as recently as 2009. I think there may be a bit of a body bias going on with him as he seems an adequate reserve, and the plus with this set-up is that it means more PA's for Ian Stewart, who I'd rather have against LHP's than Seth Smith or even Todd Helton most days anymore; plus less innings in the field for Ryan Spilborghs is probably a good thing. Eric Young Jr. looks likely to be a frequent traveller on the C. Springs to Denver shuttle again this season and at the moment, doesn't look slated to start the season with the Rockies as long as Giambi's healthy*. Herrera's likely just a fill-in for those bizarre situations that occasionally come up, I'd rather have him out there than Roy Oswalt, for instance.

So I think a weak LHP lineup could potentially actually look like this and still be fairly effective offensively and defensively:

  • Fowler -CF
  • Lopez - 2B (I still swear this is the place you want him, especially against LHP's)
  • Cargo - RF
  • Tulo - SS
  • Stewart - 3B
  • Wigginton - LF
  • Iannetta - C
  • Helton - 1B
  • P

That leaves two pretty potent left handed batters (Smith and Giambi), and a potent right handed bat (Spilborghs) on reserve as well as the solid make some contact guy in Herrera. Against strong LHP's (Kershaw, Lee, Sanchez) Tracy may want to go all in with the right handed hitters:

  • Fowler - CF
  • Lopez - 3B
  • Cargo - RF
  • Tulo - SS
  • Spilborghs - LF
  • Iannetta - C
  • Wigginton - 1B
  • Herrera - 2B
  • P

I like that. You lose a bit defensively, but you generally need all the offensive help you can find against those arms. Neither situation is really impacted by the Jason Giambi signing. It seems to me that having Wigginton and Lopez rather than Mora and Barmes actually affords the Rockies the flexibility to keep Giambi that they didn't really have last year.

* - While writing this, the thought occurred to me that the Rockies could be setting themselves up for starting the season with Giambi on the DL at extended Spring Training, using Young or an extra bullpen arm as the 25th man, and then having Giambi be ready in time for May and June, when Interleague play occurs. It would require a legitimate injury, but Giambi's 40 years old, he's probably got enough chronic aches that qualify.


One more year, Russ - 

Wilson, get off the bench and make a decision

Is Russell Wilson becoming the new Brett Favre?

And you can read similar sentiments expressed at SBNation's NC State blog. They sure are antsy for this over there, aren't they? The comments that he's being self-centered in this decision making process between the two sports are absolutely correct, but he has every right to be, and it's a situation where I think just about anybody else would be taking this same route if put in the same situation. He's an outstanding athlete, but lacking just enough in both sports to be far from a sure thing professionally. Wilson's absolutely not a Brett Favre, who had already made millions and could easily walk away at any point satisfied with what he had accomplished in his professional athletic life, instead, Russell is at a crossroads where there's little clarity as to which path is the better one for him to take in order to even have a professional athletic life. There's a big "what-if" door that he's going to have to shut at some point, but it's understandable that he wants to delay that decision as long as possible.

The danger for Wilson, and the comparison that should be getting drawn, is to become another Drew Henson, who embodied that old canard about chasing two rabbits and winding up with none. Wilson's not there yet, and I suspect from years on NC State's baseball bench that he maybe lacks some certitude about his future on the diamond, which leads me to also suspect with a solid Spring and start to his minor league season, the answer to the riddle of his statement's last sentence will be made clear to him:

"It is only fair for everyone involved that I give baseball the same time and attention that I have given football. Ultimately, decisions about my athletic future will be made based on my potential to succeed at the highest professional level."