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Thursday Rockpile links: February 27

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Rockies 2014 baseball starts today. They are guaranteed a win...and

I don't think Jason Pridie makes the team, but he wins for best facial hair now that the Toddfather is retired.
I don't think Jason Pridie makes the team, but he wins for best facial hair now that the Toddfather is retired.
Rob Tringali

The Rockies start their spring training schedule off with an intrasquad game today. The Denver Post reports that both Jon Gray and Eddie Butler will pitch in the game.  You can find the starting rosters here. The Post article also has teaser stories about Christian Friedrich and Jorge De La Rosa.  Real practice competition begins Friday with Franklin Morales getting the start against the Diamondbacks.

Patrick Saunders goes into more detail about Friedrich and also provides scheduled pitchers for the next week.

It has been said many times in many places (including Purple Row), but Troy Renck says the Rockies chance to be competitive hinges on the health of their two stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

In a more subtantial article, Renck discusses the problems the Rockies will have trying to find a new leadoff hitter.  Blackmon and Dickerson will get their first chance today to show their ability to get on base.

The good news from Jeff Sullivan's article on most- and least-improved teams for 2014 is that the Rockies are not one of the ten least-improved teams according to his look at projected WAR changes. The bad news is that they are not one of the ten most-improved either, and that doesn't bode well for a team the finished in last place, especially since the Padres are the seventh most-improved team according to Jeff.  Projections are just projections, but it is an ominous sign.

One last interesting article from fangraphs that compares teams' payroll broken up into four major sections (starting pitching, relief pitching, starting lineup, bench players). Roles may change by opening day, but it is interesting to note that the Rockies are not lopsided, as compared to other teams, in any one section of their roster as far as salaries this year.

OFF-TOPIC.