DNVR Rockies beat reporters Drew Creasman and Patrick Lyons battle for supremacy discussing various hot topics pertaining to the inhabitants of 2001 Blake Street as well all the scuttlebutt in and around the game of baseball.
After a strange 60-game regular season and even weirder 16-team playoff format set in neutral site locations, Major League Baseball did the improbable and completed the “championship season” without any considerable impediments.
Baseball will hope for a return to normalcy next season, but that simply isn’t possible until a post-pandemic world. As such, this offseason will be true Rorschach Test for understanding the future of the game.
With the end looming for the current collective bargaining agreement following the 2021 season, it remains to be seen if a certain precedence – a new normal, as it were – will change the sport.
While oft-acerbic Commissioner Rob Manfred has already stated the new rule changes for this season (universal designated hitter, seven-inning doubleheaders and the extra-inning runner on second base) will likely revert back to pre-2020 status, he has seemed in favor of an expanded postseason becoming a permanent fixture.
For Colorado, the 2020 campaign was not without its moments. After making two acquisitions at the trade deadline, the season disappointed and fell flat at 26-34 after a torrid 11-3 start.
So much is up in the air with MLB and all professional sports. Unfortunately, that uncertainty could be problematic for the club nestled a mile above the league.
Will the front office and coaching staff see a major change?
Lyons: Since a disappointing 2019 brought about a change to the staff’s pitching coach, the first consecutive losing seasons since 2014-15 could suggest another shake up is coming.
The resume of manager Bud Black, bench coach Mike Redmond and hitting coach Dave Magadan suggest these men could be safest from the guillotine. Two down seasons in a row for the offense raises an eyebrow, but Magadan has been on the job for only a year and firing coaches just to fire coaches isn’t a great precedence.
For better or worse, GM Jeff Bridich appears to be a lock to return for another year, or at least for the first half half of the year. Even if you’re among the large camp of fans calling for an end to his era, its hard to imagine owner Dick Monfort opting for front office volatility during a time of such financial volatility in the sport.
The phrase that pays for this question: status quo.
Creasman: Not to sound like a politician, especially considering how everyone needs a break from that type of thing, but it depends on how one would define “major.”
Black isn’t going anywhere and Bridich almost certainly staying put.
I disagree with Patrick that resumes are going to keep coaches as safe as they have been in the past. Whether it is Magadan or someone else who has to fall on the sword for the worst offense in franchise history by a considerable margin (according to OPS+), something has to be done from a philosophical perspective to address this.
Additionally, the coaching staff is one area where the Rockies have shown a bit more willingness to make changes from season-to-season during Bridich’s tenure and one that has started to buy into analytics a bit more. The hiring and subsequent promotion of Steve Merriman on the pitching side is the best evidence of this so far.
I think it’s 50/50 that personnel changes happen to address the failures at the plate, but would imagine they strongly consider bringing in someone to help reshape their organizational hitting approach.
How much will the lost revenue from 2020 impact decisions?
Lyons: According to projections by The Business Journals, the Rockies were 14th in MLB for lost revenue. If the $174.7 million estimate is anywhere close to accurate, Colorado will have make changes to recoup some of these funds.
Many teams across the sport have already made major cutbacks on scouting and millions more can be saved this offseason with frugal free agent spending.
There are also doubts about whether Spring Training will start on time, reduction of regular season games and the less than 100% occupancy rate in stadiums for 2021, all which means owners will need to recoup expenses elsewhere.
MLB may want to rebound, but the world isn’t ready for supporting it yet.
Creasman: It’s going to be tough for everyone, most of all the players and fans.
It doesn’t help that baseball already has a system largely built around paying people far less than what they are truly worth and this global economic crisis only makes that far worse.
Fans may feel a sense of betrayal by teams that simply aren’t willing to take certain financial risks in order to make their teams better. In almost any other circumstance, these critiques would be fair, but there is just so much uncertainty about the future of the sport right now.
We don’t really know how much money there is to go around and its already an unwise move to risk overpaying anyone. A lot of good ballplayers are going to begin the 2021 season without jobs because a cheaper option exists somewhere.
Who stays, who goes and who has any idea about 2021?
Lyons: Anyone of significant value is making significant money on Colorado’s payroll, so swinging a trade with another club to unload a contract won’t be as easy as normal. No one is adding significant payroll.
Simply cutting ties with a player like Ian Desmond still requires the Rockies to pay him. No money saved. Certain arbitration eligible players may be non-tendered, but could certainly return on a lesser value contract.
The one thing in Colorado’s favor is that a lot of talent players will available in free agency. If their evaluation of talent is an ability worth praising, we’ll know it by the end of 2021 with the new crop of players…
Creasman: The Rockies could try to nickel and dime their way to some savings with a few cost-cutting measures, but none would be enough to make a true dent.
The only way to save ample money to make any difference would be trading a larger contract like Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, or Charlie Blackmon. You could also add Jon Gray into that mix as he’s set to be the sixth-highest paid on the club.
None of these scenarios seem likely at this point. The biggest change I could see coming would be a trade of David Dahl, which would both free up a little bit of money while and create some roster flexibility for Colorado to go in a new direction.
I do think we will see quite a bit of maneuvering at the back-end of the roster. There won’t be anything flashy, but with the right sequence of moves to shore up their depth and provide a buffer for their still-quite-young roster, they could absolutely navigate this strange offseason into a big win.