Many interesting items from around the league to discuss this evening …
- Commissioner Rob Manfred says that he would consider shrinking the regular season to 154 games if there was interest (ESPN). Since it’s unlikely that MLB’s owners (and TV partners) will want to shrink the season any time soon, this is mostly a non-story. I suppose it’s possible that they could try and make the product slightly more scarce and thus make more revenue per game to make up the difference, but I’m not seeing it, and I’m also not seeing enough upside* in such a small reduction. Thought you fine folks might enjoy discussing it, though. (*The theoretical upside would be making the sport more marketable because the games matter a little more and there are fewer of them.)
- Mercy. Ken Rosenthal interviewed Mat Latos, and the returns were so good that Rosenthal just posted the transcript because he knew he had gold. Latos ripped his former team – the Cincinnati Reds (and also dumped on the Padres a little, too) – for a variety of things, including rushing him back from an injury last year (ditto Joey Votto and Jay Bruce). That’s his claim, anyway, because the Reds immediately fired back, generally taking down Latos’ credibility. Whatever the truth, Latos probably didn’t help himself heading into his walk year. There will be a lot of “character” questions when he’s looking for a big-time free agent contract.
- It also kinda sounds like Latos is claiming Aroldis Chapman was frequently asleep during games, among other things, by the way. (A Latos quote from Rosenthal’s piece: “Guys on their computers, buying stuff, hanging out in the clubhouse. We had a guy with a year-and-a-half in the big leagues wandering around the clubhouse, hanging out. We had a closer in there sleeping until the seventh inning. We lose that veteran leadership, that’s what happens. You can’t have that … it turns into a circus.”)
- On the lighter side from Reds camp: how do you find a throwing partner when you’re the new guy?
- More details on the pace of play changes from Jayson Stark, who hears that batters can still do their whole glove-helmet routine so long as they keep one foot in the batter’s box. He also hears that, although managers have to challenge from the dugout, they can still wait for their video folks to tell them whether to challenge or not. So, instead of a slow, moonwalk shuffle out onto the field (Rick Renteria was a stud at it), managers will yell to the umpires, “Hey, I’m not so sure about that call, can you come over here? *pause* *pause* *pause* Never mind. Nice seeing you.” I did like seeing that MLB is going to pass on to teams their data on how long each pitcher is taking out there, which sounds like a precursor to a pitch clock (or a way to avoid a pitcher clock and still get the slower pitchers to speed things up a bit).
- Speaking of the pitch clock, Jeff Passan writes about the relationship between speeding up pitchers and increasing offense. It sounds like a conspiracy theory to some players, but, to be fair, that was something I said back when the pitch clock was first being discussed last year – if you rush pitchers a little bit, the incidental effect might be to increase offense. Interestingly, Passan’s piece is built around David Price, who is one of the slowest pitchers in baseball at 26.6 seconds between pitches. (So, you know, if the Cubs sign him after this season, I reserve the right to be totally inconsistent and change everything I’ve said for a year.) (I kid. Mostly.)
- Jason Heyward suggests that he felt like the Braves were stymying his power production a little bit by inserting him into the leadoff spot (StlToday.com). Whether that’s a legitimate connection or not, Heyward won’t be batting leadoff for the Cardinals, so maybe he’s going to see his power explode. Mostly because voodoo magic.
- I could have an entire, separate set of MLBits dedicated entirely to Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who is headed back to St. Louis to be examined after abdominal discomfort prevented him from participating in workouts. The Cardinals say they aren’t concerned, but the fact that they’re taking the step of sending him all the way back to St. Louis for evaluation makes you wonder what’s up. Wainwright had a minor offseason elbow procedure, but there isn’t any obvious connection to this issue. Still, if the abdominal thing delays his ramp-up at all – which may have been cautious because of the elbow surgery anyway – it’s conceivable that Wainwright’s start of the season could be delayed (which has a direct impact on the Cubs, who open the season with the Cardinals at Wrigley).
- Meanwhile, Mike Petriello writes about why Wainwright is a fantasy risk. And Ken Rosenthal writes about how Wainwright asked fellow starters to join him at 6:15am each morning, some three hours before the first team meeting every day. It kind of sounds like a good bonding exercise, but, with more than a month to go before the actual season even starts, it also sounds like the kind of overkill that can lead to burnout. So, you know, go for it!
- Would’ve been nice to have Brandon McCarthy on the Cubs for things like this:
the first day at a new job is always scary but thankfully I had a shower with my co-workers to look forward to and that took the edge off
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) February 21, 2015