MLBits: Pitch Clocks, Betts' Incredible Season, Bill James Controversy, Dodgers Spending, More

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MLBits: Pitch Clocks, Betts’ Incredible Season, Bill James Controversy, Dodgers Spending, More

Chicago Cubs

Ugh … who wants the MLBits? It’s like give me a Lukewarm Stove, amiright?!

Soon enough. Soon enough. But there’s news!

  • You may have forgotten about them, but the Commissioner sure hasn’t: pitch clocks could finally debut during the 2019 season. According to Bob Nightengale, the Competition Rules Committee meets next week with Commissioner Rob Manfred on “recommendations for next year involving pitch clocks, shifts, and the use of openers,” so a lot could theoretically change. It’s hard to see there being enough momentum (shifts) or time (openers) to make big changes in those two areas already, but pitch clocks had a LOT of momentum last winter, have been in place in the minor leagues without issue for years now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw them in 2019.
  • I mean, we almost saw them last year: Remember when the proposed rules came out, and then were revised, and then the league and union fought, and the league was all “We’re gonna do it, anyway,” but the union was all “You better not!” And then they ultimately agreed to put it off for a year? Well, here we are. This is that year. And since I’m pretty positive “pace-of-play” wasn’t solved by the players trying really hard over one season, I think you might expect some further prodding on that front. It’s also worth mentioning that the league doesn’t need the union to make these changes. The commissioner can act unilaterally so long as the changes were proposed a year in advance, which we have to believe is the case, as it was last winter.
  • Speaking of Manfred:

  • For what it’s worth, Manfred only needs 16 teams behind him, but is expected to get unanimous support. Owners are clearly happy with how he has represented their interests.
  • A border-line must-read at the Star Telegram about how the Rangers are reconsidering what they know about advanced analytics after Cole Hamels moved to Chicago and enjoyed immediate success. In it, GM Jon Daniels discusses how the Rangers used to be among those 5-8 teams that are “ahead of the rest of the industry,” before admitting that they’re not in that group now on the research and development side. The Cubs and Dodgers, in the author’s estimation, are “considered leaders in the industry,” and what do you know: the Rangers just hired manager Chris Woodward from the Dodgers and Assistant GM Shiraz Rehman from the Cubs. Something tells me the Rangers are in very good hands.
  • Here’s a pretty crazy revelation, via FiveThirtyEight: “According to Spotrac, the 147 free agents to sign at least a one-year deal with guaranteed dollars last season were, on average, 32.6 years old, and the average age of this year’s class is 33.1 years. Last season, position players age 32 and older accounted for 12.9 percent of wins above replacement (WAR) and 18.6 percent of plate appearances, which were the lowest numbers that demographic have contributed since 1975 and 1979, respectively.” In short, Travis Sawchik foretells of more slow markets for the middle-tier, older free agents who were once relatively highly sought after in free agency. The game is trending younger for so many reasons and the 30-plus-year-olds are paying the price.
  • Mookie Betts won an AL Silver Slugger award last night and was also named the Heart and Hustle Award Winner – the first Red Sox to take home the award since Dustin Pedroia in 2013, which, well, wasn’t actually all that long ago (Anthony Rizzo won it for the Cubs back in 2015). Betts has also already won a Gold Glove for his work this season and is one of the AL MVP finalists, too. That is one heckuvan awards season: All-Star, Heart and Hustle, GG, SS, and maybe MVP.
  • The Red Sox had two more Silver Slugger awards this season, but both went to J.D. Martinez. Yep, the thumper won the Silver Slugger award as a designated hitter and an outfielder. How about that? Martinez slashed .330/.402/.629 with 37 doubles, 43 homers, and 130 RBIs. Mercy. He only had 57 starts in the outfield though, accounting for 219 at-bats, so it’s a little odd, but he definitely was a slugger.
  • Red Sox special advisor and famed-sabermatrician Bill James made some controversial comments on Twitter yesterday, while discussing his apparent sentiment that most players are overpaid: “If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them. The game would go on; in three years it would make no difference whatsoever. The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.” As you can imagine, the Red Sox, fellow players, and the Union were not happy:

  • The Red Sox called James’ comments inappropriate and absurd, and the union called them reckless and insulting. I think everyone is overreacting quite a bit, including James, in what could have been a solid, nuanced conversation. When discussed in regards to ownership and revenues, uh, no, MLB players are not overpaid. The players should get a fair split of the money their efforts generate. But when we’re talking in relative terms to, like normal people, well sure, you could argue it would be weird to feel bad for guys making more in a year than most people make in their entire lifetime.
  • Setting that aside, yeah, the Red Sox obviously wouldn’t win if only their players were replaced. That’s not what James was saying. Ultimately, I think James’ point was useless and probably wrong, but the whole flap makes me think about the ACTUALLY underpaid MINOR LEAGUE players, who live in their cars or with host families, can’t afford healthy meals, and need second and third jobs? That’s an actual issue worth getting outraged about.
  • Jack Baer looks at the Dodgers leaked spending decision to see how realistic those plans to stay under the luxury tax threshold really are. It would still be very shocking to see the Dodgers actually go this route, and would certainly raise cries of “collusion!” again this year after the Dodgers took off last winter to get under the luxury tax and (ostensibly) reset their penalties.
  • NBC Sports discusses how the Giants lured Farhan Zaidi from their rival and it’s actually an interesting story – a special 30 min phone call was organized by the Dodgers and MLB during the postseason, when the Giants couldn’t actually otherwise talk to him because the Dodgers were still going. The call revealed mutual interest and they finally sat down face-to-face last Friday. Interesting stuff.

  • Ice cold:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is the butler to a wealthy werewolf off the coast of Wales and a writer at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami