Rockies go radical: Four-man rotation, 75-pitch limit

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If there was ever a team that should be trying something different, it’s the 2012 Rockies with their 25-40 record and their 6.28 starter’s ERA. Still, this doesn’t seem like a great idea.

Manager Jim Tracy revealed this afternoon that he plans to go with a four-man rotation and limit all of his starters to 75 pitches per outing.

“We had to do something that was unconventional,” Tracy said.

Jeremy Guthrie, who is expected to be traded in the near future, was moved to the pen to set up the new arrangement. The Rockies will go with a rotation of Christian Friedrich, Jeff Francis,  Alex White and Josh Outman for now.

Rockies starters have been the worst in the NL this year, and it hasn’t helped matters that Coors Field is back playing like it did in the early part of the last decade. Of the 10 pitches to start games for the Rockies this season, only one has managed a sub-5.00 ERA. That’s Drew Pomeranz, who was sent back to the minors after going 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in his five starts. The best ERA of the pitchers currently in the rotation belongs to White, who is at 5.56 after eight starts.

It will be interesting to see just how this affects a bullpen that has already been overworked this season. Tracy will often be getting just four innings from his starters, so he’s going to have to treat relievers Guillermo Moscoso, Matt Belisle, Adam Ottavino and Guthrie like long guys. If he starts yanking those guys out after an inning of work, he’s going to have big problems within a week or two. However, if he’s willing to let some of them throw three innings, take two days off and then come back out and throw two or three innings again, maybe the experiment will survive until the All-Star break anyway.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.