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Thursday Rockpile: Lots of information, but little clarity so far for the lineup.

Without any significant questions about who is going to be playing at what position for the Rockies on Opening Day, the order of the lineup continues to get a lot of this Spring's attention, particularly who will wind up in the number two slot. We know that Dexter Fowler is going to bat lead-off, with Seth Smith and Jose Lopez being the two prime candidates to follow him. 

The AP had a short blip on Todd Helton hoping to restore his production, which would help a lot in sorting out the order of the 5, 6, and 7 slots. Jim Armstrong in the first link advocates a Helton-Lopez-Ian Stewart order there, which I think could work, particularly against RHP's. That said, I'm disappointed that Armstrong, like many Rockies fans, puts too much value in Jose Lopez's raw, unadjusted OBP numbers. You would think of all fans or writers, those associated with the Rockies would know that park effects can skew our perspectives on players, and in extreme environments, as both Safeco and Coors qualify, home effects will also typically impact a player's performance on the road. Lopez's career .312 road OBP isn't great or even good, by any means, but it's not far off from Seth Smith's career .317 road OBP. Since Lopez entered the MLB at a much younger age than Smith, those numbers are also skewed by his early inexperience. Since 2006, Lopez has two seasons worth of full time play (over 300 PA's) with a road OBP over .340, Smith hasn't had a full season's worth of play yet, but his road OBP has been showing a very disturbing trend.

My main point of advocacy here isn't to write off Smith, though, I think he's capable of a big rebound, but I'm mainly advocating not to write off the possibility of Lopez being a much better player than what his 2010 performance would indicate. Then again, if he is the 2010 player, let's hope Chris Nelson's ready. For the number two slot, I don't really care which player gets chosen, be it Smith, Lopez or somebody else as long as it's the best player. I would hope fans and management alike keep an open mind about that.

Three Rockies prospects made Baseball America's top 100 list, Tyler Matzek, Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado. In a chat yesterday, Jim Callis also indicated about Christian Friedrich: "If we had a Top 105, he probably would have made it."  So don't make too much of not getting more than three in before the arbitrary round number endpoint. In all, it's an average number of top prospects for what's generally considered a middle of the road system right now. I think the Rockies system is on the upswing however, given the talent at Casper and Pasco (Tri-City) last summer.

Off Topic

Jason Giambi warns pitchers that while this might be their moment in the sun, he knows from experience that a pendulum shift back to favoring hitters will eventually come. For Giambi's own part, according to Troy Renck, the slugger's bat apparently looks a little quicker this Spring, as he homered off of Greg Reynolds in live BP yesterday. Renck also has injury updates on Aaron Cook, Eric Young and Wilin Rosario.

So far so good for the economics of the move to Salt River Fields and Talking Stick, the Rockies/D-backs Spring opener has already sold out, and the Diamondbacks have already sold more Spring Training tickets in 2011 than they did in 2010 without setting foot on a field yet. I would guess that the Rockies are in a similar boat. 

Cheyenne high-schooler and potential high 2011 MLB draftee Brandon Nimmo seems to be a Rockies fan, which piques my interest as a fan of both the Rockies and the draft. The outfielder Nimmo's committed to Arkansas, and seems fairly happy with that, but given his family's rooting interests and the nearby rookie affiliate in Casper, it would seem that the Rockies would have as solid a chance of drawing him out of that commitment as anybody. Nimmo really burst on the scene at last August's Under Armor showcase game.