Recent reports out of the lockout camps have given fans no reason for hope, with some of the latest updates describing both sides as “deadlocked”.
More union proposal today:— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 6, 2022
• No change on CBT or minimums.
• If direct draft pick comp (qualifying offer) goes away, MLBPA now OK w/other CBT-related penalties (sometimes called non-monetary penalties)
• Some revenue sharing changes still on table for PA
The most recent counter-offer from the Player’s Association to the League made some concessions, but most of the fiscal changes were negligible compared to what the Owners were asking - the Union downed their ask for a pre-arbitration bonus pool from $85 million to $80 million. The Owner’s? They’ve been amenable to the idea, but have been consistent on a max pool value of $30 million over the next five years.
One of the more interesting concessions by the Players, however, was purely operations based. The latest proposal would grant the MLB authority to impose three specific on-field rule changes for the 2023 season with only 45 days notice. Those changes - defensive shift restrictions, larger bases, and a pitch clock - have been viewed as somewhat inevitable for a while, but the timeframe in which the changes would take effect is a great reduction from the year period that is currently in place. It should also be noted that a fourth owner-proposed change - automated strike zones - was not included in the Union’s proposal.
Whether this timeframe reduction is simply a concession by the Union acknowledging that the proposed three changes are inevitable or the League flexing its muscles in terms of future rules changes remains to be seen. For now, let’s quickly explore how these changes would affect the Rockies.
This change has understandably been the one met with the least amount of pushback. The current proposal would increase the base size from 15-inches to 18-inches, and add a “ramp” of sorts on the edge to make them easier to slide into. Fewer injuries, fewer plays where the runner beats the throw but then is tagged out when popping off the base for a millisecond, happier parties all around.
Defensive shift restrictions
This could potentially help the Rockies, in a roundabout way. Per Baseball Savant, the Rockies had the third-fewest shifts in 2021, sitting at roughly a third of the league-leading Dodgers total shift count and rate. Despite their willingness to embrace modern techniques, the Rockies infield defense still excelled in 2021, leading the league in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Assuming that other teams shifted to their benefit, a future lack of shifts would relatively hurt them, making the Rockies infield defense even better on a team level.
As a staff, there’s no real trend here for the Rockies. Germán Márquez is consistently one of the fastest working pitchers in the Majors while the others are, well, slower. The proposed pitch clock would be 14-seconds with the bases empty, and 19-seconds with runners on. With pitchers who have recently come up through the minors already having extensive experience, this shouldn’t have too much affect on staffs as a whole, and hopefully just affect the fan’s game experience for the better.
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Even though the Major League lockout is ongoing, with little respite in sight, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick kicked off Rockies-related baseball action for the season yesterday with minor league camp. While overall development and moving through the organization is a goal for all players attending, it likely seems somewhat out of touch for those already on the AAA roster - with no MLB baseball scheduled, there is no feasible next step. Worse off are the young players, slated to compete for MLB roster spots this spring, who are on the Rockies 40-man roster so they are locked out too, unable to start their preparations. This group includes Elehuris Montero, Ryan Feltner, Noah Davis, Helcris Olivarez, and Ezequiel Tovar, among others
Starting last year, Nike and Major League Baseball partnered to release unique, city-inspired jerseys for every team through the 2023 season. The reactions to the first crop were mixed, but the Rockies were not among them. That may change this year, with new alternate color Rockies socks starting to circulate recently on social media.
The purple is a Rockies mainstay, while the green seems to be in reference to the 1998 MLB All Star Game jerseys. If this is indeed a sign of the upcoming jerseys, what say you?
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