College basketball, of course, takes the sports world center stage during the month with tournaments galore.
It’s also usually the time for anticipation of the upcoming Major League Baseball season.
Cactus and Grapefruit League spring training games are usually going full bore.
And here amid the daily mix of sun, wind and snow, Colorado MLB bettors typically are poring over the season futures odds in search of value.
Meanwhile, Colorado Rockies fans usually are wondering if this will be the rare season for an above-.500 finish.
Not so much in March 2022.
Labor strife has embroiled the MLB. The players have been locked out since early December.
And much to the dismay of Cactus and Grapefruit League locales in Arizona and Florida, spring training sites are ghost towns.
That was bad enough.
But after Tuesday afternoon’s deadline passed without a new collective bargaining agreement, the first two series of the regular season now have fallen by the wayside.
Not anytime soon this spring.
At least the COVID-19 interruptions and postponements of the past two seasons weren’t self-inflicted.
So, with pitchers and catchers stuck at home with the rest of us, what’s the Rockies’ current outlook?
With the usual fare of Colorado online sportsbooks’ futures odds as guideposts, here’s a quick spin around the bases …
Silent spring on tap with games nixed
Here’s hoping you weren’t planning an extensive spring training trip this month.
The Rockies should be deep into their Cactus League schedule. Instead, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is headed toward a second silent spring in the last three years.
As for the regular season, MLB’s Opening Day was set for March 31. The Rockies were scheduled to open on the road that day against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However, that four-game series has been canceled, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced Tuesday. Colorado’s ensuing two-game road set against the San Diego Padres also is off.
If, on the off chance, the sides come to a labor agreement soon and there are no more schedule alterations, the Rockies’ April 8 home opener against the Dodgers would serve as their season opener.
That would be good news for Coors Field workers and LoDo businesses. They depend heavily on the crowds Denver home games attract — good Rockies teams or not.
It would also stand to reason in that scenario that there would still be some sort of abbreviated spring training later in March for players to ready for the season.
Still, for now, everything MLB is frustratingly in limbo.
Rockies continue to hemorrhage top talent
The 2021 offseason saw the Rockies trade away All-Star/Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado.
That was a brutal blow to the Rockies faithful. Especially after Jeff Bridich, the general manager behind that unpopular and roundly-panned deal, parted ways with the organization only 21 days into the regular season.
Player movement this winter has been curtailed due to the lockout which went into effect Dec. 2.
But that still hasn’t prevented the Rockies from losing more talent.
Jon Gray, a 2013 Colorado draft pick and a six-year fixture in the Rockies’ starting rotation, signed a four-year free agent deal with the Texas Rangers just before the lockout went into effect.
Two-time All-Star shortstop Trevor Story likely will follow suit.
Story is a free agent still looking for a new home. He is a Texas native, and the defending American League-champion Houston Astros are believed to be one of the front-runners for his services with their own standout shortstop Carlos Correa likely to leave via free agency.
The Rockies, meanwhile, seemingly are content to stand pat and build from within.
All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon is still around, but he turns 36 in July and his .270 batting average and .411 slugging percentage in 2021 were his lowest marks in nine years.
First baseman C.J. Cron (team-leading 28 home runs and 92 RBIs in 2021) and third baseman Ryan McMahon (86 RBIs, 80 runs) figure to be the top bats.
Meanwhile, German Marquez (team-leading 12 wins and 176 strikeouts) leads the pitching staff.
The Rockies’ bullpen, though, remains a major question mark.
Colorado again among NL long shots
Colorado did go “over” on its win total last season, finishing 74-87 (.460).
The Rockies, though, still finished fourth in NL West, a whopping 32.5 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants. And 31.5 games behind the second-place Dodgers.
Overall, Colorado only has had nine winning seasons and five playoff appearances in 29 seasons of existence. The Purple and Black still have yet to win a division title.
With the labor mess and the uncertainty of how many games will actually be played this season, 2022 MLB team win totals currently are off the board at online sportsbooks.
But World Series, league and division futures odds remain posted.
And, as might be expected, the Rockies are far down the odds lists found at PlayColorado’s top five-ranked online sportsbooks as of Wednesday:
- For odds on winning the World Series, Colorado ranks anywhere from 25th (+8500 at Betfred Colorado) to a tie for 28th ( at DraftKings Colorado) among the 30 MLB teams.
- Among the 15 pursuing the National League pennant, the Rockies range from a tie for 10th (+4000 at Betfred) to 13th (+9000 at DK).
- And finally, in the five-team NL West division, Colorado has the fourth-best odds at all five surveyed sportsbooks, ranking above, or tied with, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The odds range from a high of +4000 at BetMGM Colorado to a low of +10000 at DraftKings.
It’s interesting to note that the Rockies’ posted odds of winning the NL are better than winning the rugged NL West at both DraftKings and Betfred.