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Thursday Rockpile: While it's cold in Atlanta, Smith trade rumors heating up elsewhere

For some reason, I'm guessing this .230 single A hitter's minor league jersey might sell a bit better than most .230 single A hitters' jerseys would.
For some reason, I'm guessing this .230 single A hitter's minor league jersey might sell a bit better than most .230 single A hitters' jerseys would.

Troy Renck writes that the Rockies seem to be focusing on minor trades at the moment and will "wait until they receive specific players" for Seth Smith. While the Atlanta Braves interest in the outfielder as a piece in a trade for Martin Prado has cooled, the Rockies continue to look for other fits, with pitching being the particular focus at the moment.

Ken Rosenthal adds that the Rockies continue to explore the trade market for Smith, hoping to fill either the hole at second base, or the hole in the fourth rotation slot. As Rosenthal reports, while interest remains somewhat high for Smith, locating a suitable trade match has been difficult for Colorado. Rosenthal all but eliminates a Smith trade to Tampa for either of pitchers Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann, as Smith duplicates what the Rays already have in Matt Joyce.

Rosenthal's source also seems to suggest that before talks went cold, the Braves and Rockies may have moved on from a center-fielder plus Smith deal to acquire Prado, albeit still couldn't agree on a pitcher to go along with Smith. Also apparently ruled out by the Rockies is a Smith for Jason Vargas exchange with the Seattle Mariners, perhaps leaving Oakland as the likeliest destination du jour, perhaps for either Josh Outman or Tyson Ross. The Renck link above states that the A's interest was prior to Coco Crisp re-signing with the team, so it may be that the A's are now also moving on.

I've mentioned Outman as a favorite target of mine in the past as a groundball oriented LHP that can still bring 92 mph heat. He spent the 2011 still coming back from a mid-2009 Tommy John surgery, but I would expect him to be fully MLB ready and effective for 2012. Ross, meanwhile, I believe to have less upside than Outman and we know that he has less overall MLB experience, so I would hope for an additional piece if the Rockies were to trade Smith for him.

Rockies newly signed outfielder Michael Cuddyer answered fan questions for the Denver Post. Cuddyer talks about looking forward to hitting at Coors Field and in the National League West. Let's hope he's just as enthusiastic after facing Lincecum, Cain, Kershaw and Kennedy a few times.

Infielder Josh Rutledge has big league dreams as he prepares to start his season, likely with minor league Tulsa, but with the Rockies 2B situation remaining in flux, he shouldn't be considered that far out of the picture right now and there's a possibility that he could see the majors by the end of the 2012 season.

Russel Wilson's Asheville Tourists jersey has been put up for auction. There are a few stats from the Asheville team last year that suggest very high unlikeliness for certain players to reach the majors. Tyler Matzek's walk rate and Corey Dickerson's road results are two such examples. Greater than either of those, however, at ruling out future MLB use would be Wilson's 35% K rate. He's an extremely gifted athlete, but Rockies fans should put close to zero faith that this particular Powerball ticket eventually pays off.