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Pitching is a delicate waiting game in the spring of 2020

Colorado Rockies news and links for Saturday, March 28, 2020

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When Baseball Comes Back, How Much Time Will Pitchers Need? | FiveThirtyEight

A four-week ‘spring training’ on-ramp, an expanded roster, and even Scott Boras’ proposal of a season into December have been discussed as changes due to COVID-19. Any proposal needs to account for the readiness of pitching arms—a factor unlike any other in pro sports.

Pitchers are throwing harder than ever before; an on-ramp into the regular season is thereby more necessary than ever. Standard preparation for 2020 meant pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in early-to-mid February. They were set to spend about a month and a half preparing for the regular season at their spring camps, far more than a three-week (or more) on-ramp phase that could be coming.

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics were recently postponed to 2021. USA pole vaulter Sandi Morris discussed on SportsCenter this past week how many Olympians follow a yearly training cycle around their championships. ‘In-season’ and ‘offseason’ training is understandably different, and delaying competition disrupts a routine that athletes count on year after year. Delaying the 2020 MLB season is no different; if there is indeed baseball in 2021, such preparation will require adaption.

MLB pitching hasn’t had a disruption like this for decades—and some adaptions to the schedule could lead to injury.

Tommy John surgery is already performed frequently as it is. Rushing back into high-intensity throwing is one way to put unnecessary stress on an ulnar collateral ligament. Any pitcher has reason to be averse to such a procedure; a huge setback would be even more devastating after waiting so long for 2020 baseball to begin.

The Necessary Evils of MLB’s Contingency Plan for a Canceled Season | The Ringer

Should the 2020 season be canceled, players “will earn as much service time for 2020 as they compiled in 2019.” This scenario would qualify Dodger acquisition Mookie Betts as a free agent next winter. If he were to then sign on elsewhere, he wouldn’t play a game as a Dodger inside Dodger Stadium.

BettsRed Sox jersey was the seventh highest seller in baseball last year. An authentic Dodger jersey of his currently runs for $135, and it’s likely that several have been purchased already.

There are no silver linings for ‘contingency plans’ and a canceled season is a depressing thought no matter how we look at it. The impact on each individual team is a thought-provoking conversation, at least. Wade Davis, Daniel Murphy, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw have option clauses in their contracts after 2020. If those options aren’t exercised and this season is indeed cancelled, four of the eight highest paid Rockies this year would face impending free agency before the next game.

“While players like Betts and J.T. Realmuto will reach free agency on time no matter what, you’d have to be an utter fool to think teams will just pick up where they left off and start flinging around $200 million contracts again.” When baseball returns, it will be different. Teams aren't making money with a postponed season, and the impact could go far beyond the next few months when play does resume.

Money trouble: The pressure behind getting sports back on TV | The Athletic ($)

Due to ‘force majeure clauses’, a return of sports on television faces an entirely new angle of pressure. Such a clause was once something that only specialists of the fine print may have been aware of. Now it becomes common information, and perhaps motivation for corporate entities to push for competition to resume—with or without crowds.

Uniform manufacturer Fanatics deserves high praise. Official MLB uniform fabric is being used to make personal protective equipment for hospitals.

According to Math: The Best All-Time Colorado Rockies Lineup |

We’ve got plenty of time to speculate all kinds of stuff during social distance practice. Let’s use those thoughts and play manager for a minute: how would you construct your lineup of the best Rockies, by positional WAR, in their prime?

Top performers based on Baseball Reference’s bWAR:

SP: Ubaldo Jimenez

C: Chris Iannetta

1B: Todd Helton

2B: DJ LeMahieu

3B: Nolan Arenado

SS: Troy Tulowitzki

LF: Matt Holliday

CF: Carlos Gonzalez

RF: Larry Walker

The order would have to follow National League rules, of course; no DH.

A franchise younger than 30 can understandably show less surprises on a list like this compared to older teams. It still makes for an interesting time constructing a lineup with all of those guys listed. To make matters more interesting, five of them would typically bat third.

Based on their career numbers, Helton, Arenado, Holliday, Gonzalez and Walker hit out of the third position more than any other lineup spot. For the others, Tulowitzki, 4th; LeMahieu, 2nd; Iannetta, 8th; and Jimenez, 9th.

This info alone suggests Iannetta and Jimenez would round out the bottom of the order. LeMahieu normally hit out of the leadoff spot for the Yankees last year; he could reason as the leadoff guy in this fantasy starting nine. This leaves two through seven in the order open.

It’s a damn shame one of those guys would have to hit seventh.

While bWAR isn’t calculated for managers, which former Rockies skipper would manage? Clint Hurdle is the winningest manager in Rockies history, with 534 wins and a National League pennant under his belt.