There’s simultaneously nothing (no actual baseball, sloth-like free agent market) and a lot (impending pace-of-play changes, Union/League strife) going on right now, which makes for an extremely weird January.
Let’s catch up on the latest …
- On those impending pace-of-play initiatives (which we covered in more detail right here), Ken Rosenthal spoke to Mets reliever Jerry Blevins, Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, D-Backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, and Nationals starter Max Scherzer to gauge their perspective. Each conceded that the pace and length of baseball games is a problem. On the clock, itself, however, the responses ranged from “it fundamentally changes the way the game is played,” (Iannetta) to … well, that’s basically how they all feel. You can tell some leave a little more room than others, but overall they don’t seem to be at all in favor of the clock, hating especially the idea that it would impact balls and strikes. Rosenthal has much more, including their reaction to the proposed penalties, impact on sign stealing, alternative solutions, and more. Great read, whether you agree or not.
- Not every Major Leaguer is whole-heartedly against the clock, though. At MLB.com, Anthony Castrovince catches up with a number of players to get their thoughts. Among the more refreshing takes, include Indians outfielder Greg Allen, who has already had experience with the pitch clock in the Minors: “At first, you’re a little over-conscious of it, with it being so new,” Allen said. “But the more time that you spend with these game clocks, it becomes more of a normal aspect of the game. You don’t pay attention to it too much.”
- Andrew Miller is not as big of a fan, Chris Sale thinks it’ll be fine (especially because he likes working quickly (we’ll have to get into which Cubs pitchers work quickly or not to see which might be more negatively affected by a clock)), and Mike Clevinger says he’ll be OK with a clock, but thinks most other players will not. Castrovince’s article is a really good one if you’re looking for how some players will publicly respond (there are more accounts in there), so be sure to check it out.
- But despite the apparent mix of opinions, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier claims that the union is unanimous in its opposition to the Commissioner’s proposals (i.e. the game clock and immediate penalties of balls/strikes for non-compliance), and believes that the players just need to hold themselves accountable: “It’s up to us as players, especially the more veteran guys, the leaders, to make sure players aren’t taking 30 seconds to get up to the plate, listening to their walkup song, or getting on and off the field.”
- [Brett: The problem with any solution that isn’t a hard-and-fast rule change is that it will, eventually, be ignored. The proof is the fact that Dozier seems to forget that MLB *already did* tell batters to stay in the box unless they took a swing, with the threat of fines for the worst offenders … and nothing happened. You can’t just tell guys “hey, speed it up out there” and expect hundreds of players to just do it. Frankly, the fact that the players are so freaked out by the pitch clock could be used as an argument to support its implementation: clearly, it’s going to change behavior.]
- And from me … I don’t know – I’ve said my peace on this issue, but, in general, while I’m never a fan of “change for change’s sake,” the counter argument of “you’re changing the game!” just doesn’t make any sense to me. The game changes ALL THE TIME. Usually, it’s for the better. So if the players think it’s changing for the worse, they need to explain why beyond, “because it’s different than it was.” I’m open to that discussion, I just haven’t heard a compelling version yet.
- Moving on from pace-of-play, Craig Edwards (FanGraphs) has an excellent piece of analysis at FanGraphs exploring the idea that players hit a sudden decline at age 30. Turns out, that might not be as true as we think. Players that are ages 30-33 are earning almost the same exact % of the total WAR as their 19-25-year-old counter parts despite very similar overall playing time. The ideal age-group, of course, is still those age 26-29-year-olds, though I’d argue that even that feels like a bit of a surprise (at least, given the WIDE margin between them and the next best group).
Players Don’t Become Terrible at 30 https://t.co/IMH2DcZ0sl
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) January 22, 2018
- At the Players’ Tribune, Andrew McCutchen says his goodbye to Pittsburgh. As you can imagine, leaving the Pirates is a really enormous change for McCutchen, who made his role in Pittsburgh a part of his identity: “Don’t get me wrong — I know who I am. But I guess I mean, more like … who am I now. Because in my mind, for the rest of my life, I don’t think I’ll ever not be Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirate. For me, that’s been more than just a job title. That’s been a part — a core part — of my identity, for so long.” I’m sure the feeling is very mutual.
- If you were following along with me this winter, you’ll know I often pined over (former) free-agent reliever Addison Reed for the Cubs’ bullpen … and was bummed to learn he signed with the Twins (for an unusually cheap deal at that). And as it turns out – I knew there had to be a reason he signed for relative peanuts – family and geography played a big role in his decision. “Reed’s wife is from Akron, Ohio, so the well-traveled right-hander from San Diego State gave veteran agent Adam Katz a short list of teams that would interest him.” Among those teams were the Twins and Indians, though, so you have to imagine the Cubs were at least an option (ditto the Cardinals? White Sox?). Oh, well. Best of luck, dude.
- Oh, I am very here for this:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 22, 2018
One of the best: pic.twitter.com/aqt4nYjHJB
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 22, 2018