MLBits: How About a Christmas World Series? Service Time Progress, Tommy John (Not) Success, More

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MLBits: How About a Christmas World Series? Service Time Progress, Tommy John (Not) Success, More

Chicago Cubs

The only thing I’ve been enjoying more than Marquee’s scheduled re-watch of the 2016 postseason is crafting the modified Pre-Gamin’ posts that go before them. It’s been fun and almost surreal to go back down memory lane, while also pretending not to know what’s coming next on any given night. I miss baseball dearly, and this doesn’t really heal that wound, but it’s better than nothing.

By the way, Game 1 of the 2016 World Series is on tap tonight. The Cubs didn’t ultimately win that game, but I was there, Kyle Schwarber returned after months, and it was still a hugely important night. I even peed next to Ryne Sandberg, which is cool.

  • Among the most challenging (non-health-related) conversations of a post-COVID-19 baseball world is the impact on player service time. Specifically, players are concerned that a reduction in games this season will unfairly reduce their service time, delaying their ability to reach salary arbitration and free agency. Teams, meanwhile, are concerned about the exact opposite (players are accruing “service time” without actually providing any benefit to the team). You could see how this would be an issue. Fortunately, MLB and the Players Union have made some progress on that front, with some sort of agreement expected in the next few days. And get this … MLB seems to be doing the right thing: “MLB has agreed to grant a full year of service to players who remain active for the entire 2020 season regardless of how many games the schedule includes, according to sources familiar with the discussions.” That’s a great move by MLB and a big win for the union. To be sure, there are still MANY other, related details to figure out but that’s a big one.
  • Consider this: Mookie Betts is 102 service days away from free agency. If the 2020 league year consisted of just 80 regular season games, he wouldn’t actually hit free agency for 2021 if this deal wasn’t in place. But note, there is not actually a plan in place if the ENTIRE season is cancelled (a worst-case scenario). They’ve both agreed to table those discussions for now.
  • If there’s ever something on which to comment, you can bet Scott Boras will be there to do exactly that: Scott Boras pitches 162-game MLB schedule with a World Series game on Christmas. Boras has submitted plans for a June 1st start featuring 162 games as well as a July 1st start featuring 144 games. Both proposals include a *full* playoff schedule that would run from December 3rd to December 26th (played in eight domed stadiums and three southern California stadiums). I know some people hate the idea of playing postseason games at foreign stadiums, but I don’t really care. Not when it’s just one season. Not when the Cubs have already won it all. [Brett: I’ll cop to it … I’m the a-hole who would still be bothered by watching the Cubs play in the postseason with no games at Wrigley Field … ]
  • It’s interesting – albeit uncomfortable – to think about the potential conflict between baseball player surgeries right now and the broader crisis with respect to doctor/hospital availability:

  • If a pitcher needs to have the surgery to do his job – and a delay could have a seriously damaging impact on his career – how do we decide whether that’s important enough to make supplies and time available? For now, as noted, the doctor decides. But that’s a tricky situation.
  • Speaking of Tommy John surgery, The Athletic has a good look back on the degrees of success (or failure) for the surgery for all pitchers, including ones of a certain age bracket (over 30), with a focus on Chris Sale’s prospects for not only returning, but returning strong. It’s a good read. There have actually been a lot fewer total surgeries – and even fewer total successes (return to All-Star form) – than I would have guessed in that age range, to be honest.
  • A woof passage for a guy like Sale: “There were 113 instances of the surgery for a pitcher over 30 years old, like Sale. In those cases, 86 times (76.1 percent) the pitcher returned to MLB action. The average recovery time (where accurate data are kept on surgery dates) before returning in those 113 surgeries was 17.8 months. From that field of 113 surgeries, there were 10 examples of a pitcher making an All-Star team after his return. Among that same group, 48 had made All-Star appearances before having Tommy John surgery.”
  • MLB Trade Rumors did Brewers fans a favor this morning, running down the reasons why (new-Brewer) Justin Smoak may be in line for a major bounce-back season in 2020. I’d enjoy not seeing that, thanks.
  • FanGraphs has an interesting post up right now, talking to three pitchers about how they learned and/or developed their changeups and splitters. A rare look into how this process works. Fun read.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates have a projected payroll of right around $57M. The Boston Red Sox are paying six guys – who will NOT play for them in 2020 (whatever that looks like) – $80M:

  • Mike Trout can literally do anything:


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Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami