Goods news fellow lovers of our nation's pastime. You just made it through the last weekend without major league baseball teams playing each other in some capacity until after the World Series concludes. Despite the 30-40 inches of snow sitting on the ground outside my window (I can't even tell exactly how much is out there anymore), we're just a touch over a month away from opening day and only days away from all 30 teams getting spring training games underway.
First order of business, the Rockies made a little move yesterday. As discussed in Eric Garcia McKinley's post, the Rockies added John Axford to the 40 man roster and placed Tyler Chatwood on the 60 day disabled list. As Sage pointed out in the comments, this purchase came long before the Rockies had to make the move, and considering it's going to cost the club over $2 million no matter what now, we can probably glean information from the transaction.
Here's the three most likely reasons Sage points to:
1. The Rockies are simply already super impressed with Axford's work so far and have pretty much given him a spot.
2. Axford has a really unusual out clause that allowed him to leave near the beginning of Spring Training instead of the usual last week or so.
3. Axford hasn't necessarily made the team yet but the Rockies are willing to pay that money to keep him in their system no matter what.
If this is a sign of Axford breaking camp on the 25 man roster, the bullpen is already taking shape. LaTroy Hawkins, Boone Logan, Rex Brothers, Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle are all likely to be in the mix, and if you add in Axford you're already up to six guys.
Assuming the Rockies go with a seven man pen (they've flirted with eight guys from time to time), that leaves just one open spot for the likes of Brooks Brown, Yohan Flande, Christian Friedrich, Jorge Rondon, Jairo Diaz, Chris Rusin, and potentially David Hale depending on what role (starter or reliever) the Rockies decide to slot him into.
Another story line to watch here is the battle of the lefties. If Rex Brothers doesn't figure out the demons that wrecked his 2014 campaign fast, he might be off the 25 man roster very early in 2015 with all the southpaws sitting in line behind him.
If you have not been following Thomas Harding over the last week or two, you have been missing out, and if you have been following Thomas Harding's work over the last couple of weeks, you're probably having trouble keeping up as he's been pumping out an impressively large quantity of articles out of the gate. Here's just a few of his posts from the last 48 hours.
Jhoulys Chacin talks about how great he feels so far this spring. It's wonderful to hear, but this is one where I'm not going to lean one way or another until I see results in April and May.
The Rockies are starting to get their rotation in order. Jordan Lyles will start the Cactus League opener for the Rockies on Wednesday. He will be followed with starts from Jhoulys Chacin, Kyle Kendrick, and Jorge De La Rosa Thursday through Saturday.
Righty Christian Bergman, who's sporting the Jesus look this spring, says he's motivated by the extra rotation depth the Rockies have steadily added / compiled via farm pieces stacking up over the last several months. Right now he projects for a spot in Triple-A to open the season, but as many injuries as this team seems to suffer, don't be surprised if he gets a shot in Denver, especially if he has a strong spring.
Walt Weiss talks about how encouraged he is by what he sees from Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez so far in camp, but it's spring training, so quite frankly I'd be concerned if he wasn't encouraged. The key for these two is to be encouraged by what we see in August and September.
From the non-Thomas Harding department, Mike Cranston profiles Nolan Arenado who is confident he can become a star. Nolan also adds this little nugget at the end when discussing the 2015 Rockies:
"If we stay healthy, we're going to do some damage."
Patrick Saunders knocks some sense into the crazy fans who still want Tulo to move off his favorite position. The "move him to third base" argument is now particularly amusing with emergence of Nolan Arenado. If you move Tulo to third base, where exactly do these people think Arenado's going to play? ..... Wait, don't answer that. I don't need to venture down that road of ridiculous.
While some fans continue to slam Tulo for his injuries, he's preparing an all expense paid trip for 20 patients from the Children's Hospital at Colorado's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. The group will be heading to spring training from March 6th through the 8th and get to hang with Tulo for a couple of days while they take in some sun and early season baseball action. This is the third year Tulo's put this together, and as someone who spent some serious time in a children's hospital early in my life, this makes him an even easier player to root for.
The Dodgers have a potentially interesting situation brewing. After successfully dipping into the international free agent pool with Yasiel Puig, the club gave Cuban prospect Alex Guerrero a four year, $28 million deal that allows him to block a move to the minors in his second year. And guess, what? He doesn't want to be sent down.
Ryan Romano reflects on the career of former Rockie Juan Pierre.
Matt Wieters is back behind the plate for the Orioles after missing most of last season with Tommy John surgery. It's just amazing how far this team went last season with how little they got from him, Manny Machado, and Chris Davis.