A variety of news updates from the baseball world as it, like the rest of us, navigates the uncertainty created by the current era …
- No one can credibly tell you at this precise moment when it would be reasonable to being Spring Training Part Two for players. It’s conceivable that it could come within the next month *in terms of players being able to properly socially distance*, but that would only make sense if there were a plan in place for regular season games to begin X amount of time after that. And I’m just not sure we’re at that point right now in the logistics planning, even if MLB was already ready to concede that games will begin without fans at first.
- But when Spring Training Part Two does begin, Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro tells the AP, “Knowing that so many players are not even having any access to throwing at all or hitting at all, but most importantly just throwing, and probably limited access to just training and exercise, it’s hard to imagine we could get ready in less than four weeks.” In other words, Spring Training Part Two is likely to look a whole lot like Part One before it was shut down.
- Interestingly, Shapiro also said that he expects a deal between the league and players on how to compensate players for missed games to come down this week. It’s not clear if that means the entire, comprehensive plan (which would include compensation, and also things like service time, options/bonus changes, luxury tax, etc.). Stay tuned for that, though, because it squares with something Ken Rosenthal has reported: there is urgency to get some kind of decision in place on these issues by Thursday’s previously-scheduled Opening Day, since that is supposed to begin the players’ first pay period.
- Speaking on ESPN, Buster Olney notes that baseball “would be open to any number of ideas” for the season, depending on the time frame of the return to action, including a possible NCAA-style tournament (i.e., almost every team makes it, and there is seeding). That seems anathema to everything baseball is about, but I think the bigger point is spot on, regardless of any specific idea like that: MLB and its teams and its players are going to have be extremely flexible when it comes to turning this season into whatever it can be. We know it’s going to be shorter than usual, and in a best case scenario, might include 100 regular season games. So you’re already talking about something very strange either way.
- Speaking of that kind of abbreviation, Tim Brown and Hannah Keyser at Yahoo took a look at all the ways the season could (must?) change because of what’s going on, after conversations with people around the league. Generally, it seems like the most important consideration is still trying to get in as many regular season games as possible, whatever that takes. Cynically, there are plenty of financial reasons to go that way, but it is also the product of teams wanting the regular season to still be the main mechanism for sorting the good and bad teams relative to the postseason. (Assuming there is a season and a postseason, which remains, of course, not a 100% certainty.)
- There is still no certainty on whether the league will look to use the current schedule (and add to the back-end), or will simply rip the whole thing up and start over with a new scheduled based on the revised launch date and efforts to condense more games into a shorter window of time. The All-Star Game and the Trade Deadline might have to be moved significantly, as you’d expect. We already know the draft is being looked at closely.
- On the roster side of things, Yahoo’s report indicates that it’s a near certainty at this point that initial rosters will have to be larger than 26 in order to accommodate pitchers in the early part of the season. Thank goodness for the three-batter-minimum rule, AMIRITE?
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