The Rockies will return to a traditional five-man rotation next year

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We heard late last month that the Rockies were planning to stick with a four-man rotation next year, but it turns out they will have a more conventional approach. Rockies assistant general manager Bill Geivett told Troy Renck of the Denver Post last night that the team will return to a traditional five-man rotation next season.

While the Rockies were limiting their starters to around 75 pitches, they will now work in the 90-100 range while starting on four days’ rest. The team plans to keep three “piggyback relievers” as a leftover from the experiment.

The Rockies had a 6.28 ERA from their starters when they made the switch in mid-June. They’ll enter play today with a 5.88 ERA, so while they have improved, that’s not saying much. Heck, that might have happened anyway if they stuck with five starters. The experiment also put added stress on their relievers, who rank 26th in the majors with a 4.66 ERA.

After analyzing the data and getting input from general manager Dan O’Dowd and manager Jim Tracy, it was ultimately decided that the team’s four-man rotation approach wasn’t feasible over a full season.

“There are issues in a lot of areas that put us where five is a better way to go as a standard rule. One, in terms of the length of the season, can the guys recover when you have all those consecutive days (of games)? We were in situations where we had to bump a guy back or use another guy,” Geivett told The Denver Post.

“Recovery was one. Development was another, because their side work was really limited between games. We were really limited on how much they could do to work on their delivery; that was difficult as well.”

The Rockies have struggled to find a pitching approach that works in Coors Field, so they deserve credit for trying something different while missing key cogs like Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin. It would have been nice to see them continue it with a better collection of talent, but perhaps someone will be inspired to take this concept and run with it in the future.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.