Rockies Mailbag: MLB season scenarios, Nolan Arenado update, state of Jeff Bridich’s farm system


Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

With the season being delayed, does that change the possibility of Nolan Arenado being traded before the season starts, or does it look like next offseason?
— Evan, Fort Branch

Evan, this is a tricky question. As of right now, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are in a transaction freeze, which bars teams from signing free agents, trading players and making roster moves. So, for now, Arenado will remain with the Rockies for the foreseeable future.

There was a lot of speculation that Arenado would be dealt at the trade deadline if the Rockies got off to a slow start this season. That’s a moot point now.

But as my colleague, Kyle Newman, noted in his column:

“A worst-case scenario for Rockies fans, and one that is entirely possible comes if the season is eventually canceled outright. Then, Arenado, with one guaranteed year remaining on his deal before the opt-out after 2021, and the club’s window to use him as a trade chip narrowing, could be right back on the trading block having played zero additional games for Colorado.”

Of course, it could be worse. Players such as Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer are still guaranteed to become free agents in November regardless of the season’s status. If the season is canceled, Betts might never play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who traded for him this offseason.

The other day when Buddy (Black) suggested that he wouldn’t mind if the Rockies and MLB scheduled a bunch of doubleheaders to help the schedule and get games in. Did MLB laugh at him? Or did they go, that’s not a bad idea.
— Gregory Weiss, Denver

Gregory, Black wasn’t just throwing that idea out there. MLB and the MLBPA are in deep discussions about all sorts of schedules and scenarios. Much depends on when — or if – the season begins.

“In theory, yeah, I think all of us would be up for some sort of doubleheader situation,” Black said in a conference call. “That’s something that’s going to be in front of all of us … it’s going to be the same for everybody. It’s got to make sense for the clubs and the players.”

Following the 1994-95 strike, the MLBPA rejected doubleheaders when games began again, which is why there were only 144 games played in 1995. The union is apparently more open to split doubleheaders now, perhaps even one a week. Both the owners and players want to play as many games as possible.

I’ve heard whispers that possibly two doubleheaders a week could be scheduled. I don’t see that happening unless the rosters were expanded and more pitchers were available.

Patrick, is your job really silly? My answer is not at all especially at this time when reading about sports is a crucial distraction. I hope you keep writing whatever story you can find. And thank you!
— Allan, Boulder

Thanks, Allan. I received a lot of positive feedback from my column. Many readers agreed with you, saying that we need multiple interests during this very uncertain time. Movies, books, music and sports are outlets we embrace. I just hope I can continue to think of things to write about.

I must say that I’ve been very proud of my colleagues at The Denver Post for the stories and information we have provided during the coronavirus.

Very nice piece in today’s Post. Do you wonder how many people are going to be able to afford going to an MLB game in this economy? Is that going to be a priority in a family or individual budget?

MLB is in trouble. I think it’s the beginning of the end for a sport whose interest has been waning anyway. What do you think is really going to happen?
–Kevin, Denver

Thanks for the compliment, Kevin.

It’s an interesting question and supposition. My initial gut feeling is that baseball will be welcomed back with open arms when it returns. Fans, eager to be outside and be social again, will flock to the ballparks.

That said, I am curious how the state of the post-virus economy will affect attendance and a family’s ability to pay for tickets and food at the ballpark. That’s concerning, for sure.

It’s also why MLB must be thoughtful and creative when it comes up with a plan and a schedule for when (or if) the season resumes. My worry is that if the season is significantly shorter -– or if some sort of tournament is set up – that the ticket prices will be too high for the regular fan. Baseball better be careful about that.

But let me emphasize that baseball will survive and thrive. It’s been through a lot of ups and downs in its long history. It’s still a great game and always will be.

I would like to get your thoughts not only on MLB but NBA, NHL and NFL, too. My gut feeling is that everything will be wiped out for this year and possibly into 2021 as well.
— Brent Ellis, Castle Rock

Brent, that’s a very difficult question to answer. I’m not an epidemiologist and I don’t have a crystal ball. My fear — and I think this is shared by many — is that the virus could return with a vengeance. The so-called Spanish Flu had many spikes and valleys in 1918-19 when approximately 670,000 Americans died.

My gut feeling is that baseball will return in July and the NFL will go on as planned. I’m reading that both the NBA and NHL are trying to find a way to have a postseason and crown a champion. I’m skeptical that is going to happen.

The Rockies home uniforms have always looked very little league with how it says “Rockies” across the chest. The purple pinstripes are great but the rest is pretty bad. When will we see some changes in the uniform department? Everyone calls them the Rox or Rocks, maybe have something shorter like the Diamondbacks did with D-backs. Would love to hear what you and Kyle Neman think about new unis. Thanks.
— Keith. Aurora

Keith, I’m going to allow Kyle to weigh in first. Here’s what he had to say:

“While I wouldn’t go so far as to shorten the team name on the uniform — although I think that works for Arizona — I do agree that there’s never been a whole lot of zest to Colorado’s uniforms. The purple jerseys are my favorite and I’m pro-purple pinstripes, but overall, there’s not a lot of imagination with the current design of the uniform itself, the lettering, etc.

“I would be in favor of a shake-up with the club’s threads in favor of a bolder design incorporating a mountain or mountain range into the uniform or lettering somehow. Like the widely-panned Turn-Ahead-The Clock jerseys the Rockies wore in 1999, but more toned-down and modernized.”

Now, this is what I have say. I hated those 1999 jerseys. I mean, really hated them. They looked like kids pajamas.

I do like the purple tops. I think they are distinct. I’d be curious to see what ROX would look like in an old-school, cursive font. It might be cool for an occasional alternative home jersey.

Like many fans, I have found Rockies GM Jeff Bridich to be a disaster. Sure his acquisitions have been awful, but what worries me the most is the minor league talent, or lack thereof. Every evaluation I’ve seen of the Rockies’ minor league players has been terrible. Obviously poor drafts are a big part of the problem, but what other factors do you see contributing to this unfortunate situation?
— Walter, Parker

Walter, the first part of your question is more of a statement than a question. I’ll let it stand as is. As for “factors” that have led to the current state of the Rockies farm system, let me say that following:

• According to MiLB.com, the Rockies minor-league system currently ranks 29th out of 30 teams.
• That’s bad, of course, but minor-league rankings are notoriously inaccurate, so that ranking must be taken with a grain of salt.
• A number of young players are now playing at the major-league level, and that has drained talent from the minors.
• I think it’s fair to say that the Rockies currently lack organizational depth, especially when it comes to pitchers.

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

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