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The art of the Cactus League lineup card

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Saturday, February 29, 2020

Notes: Cueto solid in debut; ‘54 WS hero passes | SFGiants.com

The Colorado Rockies played a nationally broadcasted game in February. The MLB Network broadcast featured the two teams projected to finish last in the NL West.

San Francisco went split-squad for Friday’s schedule, taking on the Royals in Surprise and the Rockies in Scottsdale. Colorado’s lone contest of the day featured ten positional player subs, five pitchers, and no Nolan Arenado.

Raimel Tapia started in left and Sam Hilliard started in right. The two plus Ian Desmond are in the conversation for who will play left field. Bud Black put two potential candidates in the lineup yesterday, again showing the mystique of Spring Training lineups.

Dom Nunez pieced up a three-run homer in the fourth and it stood for half of Colorado’s runs scored. He started at designated hitter in a National League matchup, another Cactus League intricacy.

Johnny Cueto underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and returned last season for limited work. He pitched two scoreless frames on Friday (1 H, 1 BB, 1 K). Antonio Senzatela toed the rubber for Colorado, throwing three innings (2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K).

Colorado sent four arms to the bump after Senzatela. Jeff Hoffman was sent out for the fourth and chased during the fifth, three of his five runs unearned. Phillip Diehl finished the fifth. Carlos Estévez gave up a triple, a single and a bomb to left-center to start the sixth. Ryan Castellani threw a scoreless seventh and eighth, and the scoreboard threw an X for the ninth; San Francisco won 9-6.

Sixteen Giants pitchers were used in Spring Training games on Thursday, seven against the Royals and nine against the Rockies.

(The Giants’ Scottsdale Stadium is a fantastic venue, but their center field camera angle could use some work)

Freeland ‘not too worried’ about back spasms | Rockies.com

Kyle Freeland took the mound at the Athletics’ spring training home on Thursday. He departed after his warm-up throws in the third inning. It sounds like his departure was more out of precaution than it was concern.

Freeland faced seven batters over six outs, a solo home run the only damage. A starting pitcher throwing well and leaving in the third is alarming in the regular season. It isn’t as much in exhibitions, especially in a late-February start when Freeland will have more appearances this spring.

Rockies trainer Keith Dugger “doesn’t seem too worried” according to Freeland. That’s always good to hear from the medical guy.

Who Else Could The Red Sox Target In Trades? | MLB Trade Rumors

Ian Desmond?

Colorado ‘could’ implore more immediate financial freedom if young pitchers packaged with Desmond. This article describes Colorado pitching as having “seven or eight starters on the 40-man roster and in Triple-A.” The 2019 drop-off after German Marquez and Jon Gray can test the whole “seven or eight” to that, too.

Mookie Betts and David Price now play for the Dodgers, alleviating lots of Red Sox salary. Boston has a new general manager. It’s difficult by default for them to make noise this season in the Tampa Bay/New York-laden AL East. If legitimate young pitching is involved, this could be the framework of the Red Sox turning over a new leaf, as a new GM looks to put his stamp on the organization.

In this proposal, Desmond is the $26 million check that Boston would write to receive arms. This is the kind of deal we would expect 94-win Monfort to be pulling for—providing $26 million in financial flexibility to sign ‘one’ free agent.

Boston loses manager Alex Cora this year due to sign stealing misconduct. Cora’s punishment still isn’t finalized. In a deal with the Rockies, Boston would presumably take younger pitching and shape them for a few years out—subconsciously lessining a poor reputation from Cora. It’s harder to demean a bunch of young, unaffiliated-to-the-scandal players than it is the Astros right now.

Rockies will have a couple decisions to make on pitchers without minor league options | The Denver Post ($)

Big leaguers can only be sent down to the minors so many times. This is to prevent reckless call-ups and send-downs. Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman are two such players, and both would be DFA’d and subject to the waiver process if they were sent down again. It would jeopardize their team control by the Rockies.

It’s fortunate the Rockies have such young arms available—call it the reason Boston would ever entertain a Desmond deal. As much as Bud Black insists “I don’t think options trump our best team,” the outcome is far more complicated and one worthy of attention in their 2020 Cactus League pitching performances.

Clayton Kershaw looks great in spring debut | True Blue LA (SB Nation/Los Angeles Dodgers)

The Rockies host a Dodgers split-squad today at Salt River Fields. Colorado missed Kershaw day by 24 hours; the 31-year-old lefty touched 93 in 1.2 innings, fanning four.

It’s common a team playing a split-squad keeps most of their big leaguers at their ‘home’ game. This would mean most of the Dodgers core will remain at Camelback Ranch today to take on the Diamondbacks instead of the Rockies. Colorado will still see a premier starter, as Walker Buehler makes his spring debut. Ross Stripling will start the Dodgers’ other game.

Peter Lambert will start for the Rockies today. He discusses “a few arm path changes” from an altered delivery in a Wednesday Denver Post article. He’ll go to work at 1:10 p.m. Mountain.