Monday, March 30, 2009

One Week Left Until Opening Day; Rockies Make Roster More Moves

With one week to go before the season begins, the Colorado Rockies are slowly but surely whittling their roster down to the final 25.

In a surprise move, newly acquired Matt Murton was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs, along with hurting pitcher Greg Smtih. Smith getting sent down was no surprise, but Murton was a shock to many Rockies followers.

Murton was hitting over .300 for the spring and had seemed to be a sure bet to be a reserve outfielder on the opening day roster.

It was another piece of evidence that would suggest that the Rockies have every intention of keeping 23 year old outfield prospect Dexter Fowler and finding a way for him to get at bats at the Major League level. Fowler has been having a great spring after working with new hitting coach Don Baylor and refining his swing.

In addition to Fowler, the move also solidifies the fact that Ian Stewart will not only be on the big league roster, but also be shoe-horned into the lineup. Stewart may play third base, second base and either of the corner outfield spots, depending on how Clint Hurdle pencils in the lineup for that day.

Sending Murton down leaves the Rockies outfield looking like this: Seth Smith in left field, Ryan Spilborghs in center, Brad Hawpe in right, then Dexter Fowler, Daniel Ortmeier, Scott Podsednik, Jeff Baker and Stewart as options off of the bench.

The team will still have to make a couple of moves to get down to 25 men on the active roster before opening day, which could mean that either Podsednik or Ortmeier could also find themselves without a big league job before it is all said and done.

In a somewhat little league type of situation, the Rockies seem to have an abundance of players who can play both infield postions and the outfield. Baker can play third, second or first, and the corner outfield spots, Stewart plays third, left and right, and Ortmeier can play outfield and first base.

The reason that Podsednik may still be around, despite his terrible spring training, is possibly because of his speed. If Fowler struggles early and needs a trip back to Colorado Springs for seasoning, Podsednik could be the answer to keep a little bit of speed on the basepaths.

Ortmeier, a defect from the Giants, also may have beaten Murton out in the case that Todd Helton's back does not hold up. With the loss of Joe Koshansky to the waiver wire, the Rockies may be looking for some help at first base so that Garrett Atkins will not have to shoulder the entire load.

With one week remaining, the roster is taking shape, but there are plenty of moves left to make.

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