Baseball is back, and players are reporting this week! MLB.com’s Rockies reporter, Thomas Harding dives into the top stories heading into the Summer Camp.
Who’s going to play second base?
Harding breaks down who manager Bud Black could be giving that starting spot to. Thanks to the new NL Designated Hitter rule, Daniel Murphy can DH and Ryan McMahon could potentially be moved to first. Harding suggests rookie Brendan Rodgers, who is coming off of season-ending labrum surgery, for the job. Rodgers was a first round draft pick in 2015 and his slash was 224/.272/.250 in 81 major league plate appearances in 2019. At Triple-A Albuquerque, he hit 350/.413/.622 with nine homers and 21 RBIs.
But wait, what about Garrett Hampson, who made his first Opening Day roster in 2019? But wait again, what about the non-roster invitee Chris Owings — who can play infield and outfield like Hampson, and who batted .360/.429/.560 with two doubles and a homer in Cactus League play? Time will tell what Black decides to do.
Who’s going to be the fifth starter?
Colorado has four top starters: righties German Márquez, Jon Gray, and Antonio Senzatela and lefty Kyle Freeland. But who’s going to be the fifth? Harding brings up Jeff Hoffman, who was a first-round pick in 2014 and prefers starting to relieving. Chi Chi González and rookie Peter Lambert are also potential candidates, especially since Lambert was able to use the break from the pandemic to rehab his right forearm. Again, we will see.
DH Murphy or DH Matt Kemp?
Or what about DH Charlie Blackmon? Kemp was brought in on a minor league contract after Desmond opted out of the season. Harding leaves all these questions up to the season and Summer Camp.
Ian Desmond posted a nine page in-depth explanation of his reasons for not reporting this season on Instagram (see post below). The Athletic’s Nick Groke shared more depth on why Desmond has decided to stay home — to be a there for his four children (with the fifth on the way), but also to help rebuild the little league fields and team that gave him some of his best and most painful memories growing up.
Groke shares Desmond’s struggle coming from a biracial background (his mom is white and his dad is black), and what that struggle looks like for black players in MLB right now:
“Right now in baseball, we’ve got a labor war. We’ve got rampant individualism on the field. In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems,” Desmond wrote. “We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than 8 percent Black players. No Black majority team owners.”
Colorado’s manager, Bud Black, was asked about Desmond not participating in the 2020 season:
“I have no problem with a player doing what they feel is right for them,” Black said. “I love the fact that we’re talking about this and people are listening and getting educated.”
Below is Desmond’s Instagram post and is well worth the entire read:
In addition to players announcing their intentions for the season, Minor League Baseball has officially decided to terminate the 2020 season.
The Denver Post’s Kyle Newman outlines how Minor League Baseball will look in the 2021 season, and that this is the first time since 1901 that there will be a summer without it.
The Rockies will risk losing two of their six farm system teams due to the financial losses these clubs are facing this year — the Rookie Grand Junction Rockies and High-A Lancaster JetHawks. Additionally, the other minor league team in Colorado — the Rocky Mountain Vibes in Colorado Springs (Brewers rookie affiliate) — are also on the chopping block.
Newman quotes Chris Phillips, Vibes president on the financial situation a lot of teams can and will be facing after this pandemic is over:
“Teams across the country are going 18 months straight without a steady revenue stream,” said Vibes president Chris Phillips. “That’s brutal, and in addition to potential contraction you’re going to see a number of teams who wind up folding because they weren’t able to make it financially.”
As of right now, the Rockies will be paying their minor league players $400 a week through the end of July. Mike Ritter, Grand Junction Rockies president is planning on the farm team sticking around:
“The way we’re looking at it right now is we will be here for 2021 and more years to come.”