MLBits: Andrew Heaney's Emergence, Padres Unveil Jersey Patches, Early Returns on Pitch Clocks in MiLB Games, More

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MLBits: Andrew Heaney’s Emergence, Padres Unveil Jersey Patches, Early Returns on Pitch Clocks in MiLB Games, More

Chicago Cubs

Jersey patches are coming, and pitch clocks won’t be far behind if the early returns across Minor League Baseball are any indication.

Padres Unveil MLB’s First Sponsorship Patch

We knew that sponsorship patches were coming as early as 2023, but now we’ve got a visual with the San Diego Padres unveiling that Motorola will be their newest sponsorship partner. The Padres released a teaser video on their Twitter account this afternoon with a shot of the Motorola logo displayed on the right sleeve of Manny Machado and Blake Snell’s jerseys:

As reported by SportsLogos.net, MLB teams will be permitted to wear one 4-inch-by-4-inch patch on either the right or left sleeve of their jersey. Teams will be allowed only one sponsor per season and will not be allowed to have “home” patches and “away” patches. Major League Baseball will also have the option to sell advertising space on the side of batting helmets beginning this year in the 2022 MLB Postseason.

I, for one, was interested in seeing if MLB teams would emphasize creating corporate sponsorship deals with local companies for the jersey advertising space starting next season. We’re 0-for-1 with the Padres inking an agreement with the Chicago-based Motorola. Motorola’s headquarters are based in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs despite being a globally known name in the communications marketplace.

With advertising patches on jerseys coming, I’ve been mulling potential businesses that might look good (or as good as we can expect) on a White Sox or Cubs jersey. This would have to be a significant player with teams only allowed one partner and no in-season switches; they will want to maximize their earnings on the jersey real estate.

I played around with some local companies that might meet that criteria in both White Sox and Cubs colors this afternoon:

So, Maybe a Pitch Clock Will Work …

The implementation of a strict pitch clock across MiLB began this season. The early returns are very promising, with Jeff Passan reporting this afternoon that the average game time was down to 2 hours, 39 minutes over the first 132 minor-league games that featured pitch clocks. There are two times of clocks involved, a 14-second clock with the bases empty and an 18-second clock with runners on base:

For some perspective, we’d otherwise be looking at games in the 3-hour time range. So this represents a notable cut in dead time.

Personally, I don’t care how long a baseball game lasts. But many consumers will be delighted at the prospect of shaving 20 minutes off of MLB games. Passan went into details about the time cut off of games and other ramifications on scoring and other parts of the game in his latest column at ESPN. Give it a read.

Will a New Ballpark Fix the A’s Lack of Spending?

The Oakland Athletics opened the season with the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball ($48 million) after an offseason fire sale that saw the team ship stars like Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea off for younger, more affordable players and once again hitting the reset button. But will a new stadium in Oakland prompt the Athletics to spend like a contender consistently, or is this just an excuse for the A’s to bolt the Bay and head for Vegas?

A’s team president Dave Kaval was asked recently by Bill Shakin if a new ballpark would encourage Oakland to be a team that spends within the top-10 in baseball in payroll. Kaval said that the A’s are committed to staying in Oakland and spending on a winning team if they can land a new ballpark in the Bay Area: “We wouldn’t be spending $2 million a month if we weren’t serious about staying in Oakland,” Kaval said.

Kaval went on to say that if the A’s want to remain competitive in a two-team market (with the San Francisco Giants), a new stadium would be necessary:

“In a two-team market, with us competing against the Giants, we need a product that’s at the same level,” Kaval said. “That is what it is going to require for two teams to be successful in this marketplace.

“I think the revenue from a new waterfront ballpark in Oakland can support that,” Kaval said. “One hundred percent.”

Whether or not the A’s will land their new waterfront ballpark remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the A’s continue to explore properties in Las Vegas that they could potentially build a new ballpark on while they play hardball with local government officials in the Bay Area. According to MLB.com, 17,503 attended the A’s home opener at The Coliseum on Monday night.

Have the Dodgers Unlocked Andrew Heaney?

After posting a 5.27 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels during the first four months of the 2021 season, Andrew Heaney was traded to the New York Yankees in July. Heaney posted a 7.32 ERA in 12 games with the Yankees to close the 2021 season. Still, the Los Angeles Dodgers saw something in Heaney, enough to give the struggling southpaw a one-year, $10 million deal this offseason despite Heaney not even being considered one of the 50 best free agents according to FanGraphs.

The Dodgers got to work on Heaney immediately, overhauling his mechanics and pitch repertoire. Changed his arm slot, placement on the pitching rubber, and tendency to become too rotational. Also gone is Heaney’s curveball.

Heaney has thrown 10.1 innings in his first two starts of the season with the Dodgers and has not allowed a single earned run while striking out 16 opposing hitters. Fangraphs’ Jay Jaffe does a great job of digging into the changes that Heaney and the Dodgers have made in a short time with the club:

Odds and Ends …

•   Did they change the ball again?

•   Or is it just the new humidors having an impact?

•   Nippon Professional Baseball phenom Roki Sasaki has been on an absolute tear in his last two starts for the Chiba Lotte Marines. Sasaki was pulled after eight perfect innings (with 14 strikeouts) in his most recent start, a start that followed up a perfect game with 19 strikeouts in his last turn in the rotation! According to ESPN, Sasaki’s perfect game was the first in the NPB since 1994 and the 16th in league history. His 19 strikeouts in that game also tied an NPB record, and Sasaki sat down 13 consecutive hitters on strikes at one point during the perfect game.

https://twitter.com/pitchingninja/status/1515659506759385091?s=21&t=0Zfw1xsQwEl4fdaBhz6rgQ

•   As David Laurila described it: “Roki Sasaki delivered arguably the greatest pitching performance in Japanese baseball history last night. The 20-year-old Lotte Marines phenom not only threw a perfect game — NPB’s first since 1994 — he tied an NPB record with 19 strikeouts. Sasaki also set a record. After retiring the first two hitters he faced on ground balls, the right-hander fanned 13 consecutive Orix Buffaloes batters. Pitch counts weren’t a problem. Sasaki reportedly completed his perfecto having thrown just 105 pitches.”

https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1513121664556580871

•   I hope you’ve got your MLB.TV subscription locked and loaded for this week’s Mets-Giants series:

•   🤯:

•   This Seiya Suzuki guy is pretty good, huh?


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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.