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MDS

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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2018, 05:27:00 PM »

they either have to lower the mound or limit the amount of pitchers per game

no other way around it
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2018, 11:21:17 PM »

Why are pitchers to blame here?

With no data to based this next opinion on, it feels that with the increase in salaries, batters seem to care less about putting the ball in play, and more about knocking the ball into outer space.

Every day, every game, for the past 20+ seasons, it seems like there's a situation where if the batter were patient or mindful of not going for the home run, there would have been more runs scored, more people on base, etc.

Seems like we had more professional hitters in previous eras (at the same time, that was the height of steroid-ball)...so...maybe batters were never as good as the pitching to begin with?


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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2018, 12:51:36 AM »

With no data to based this next opinion on, it feels that with the increase in salaries, batters seem to care less about putting the ball in play, and more about knocking the ball into outer space.

I really doubt it has anything to do with care level. Teams are smarter with situational pitching and fielding than ever before, and on the hitting side they've realized that putting the ball in play isn't necessarily the most important thing for winning. That's why the team with the worst batting average is in first place. It matters less than people thought. This whole advanced stats revolution has been about finding things that are more highly correlated with winning than the traditional statistics.

It's the smart way to win but it's boring as farg. Like watching Floyd Mayweather.

Barring some hitting innovation that I can't even imagine, it'll only change if the rules change to encourage more hitting.

When you collect more information, you find new ways to win. It's happening in all sports. The result won't always be more boring (it seems to encourage more risk taking in football and basketball), but in the case of baseball, that's how it worked out.
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2018, 06:43:53 AM »

Talk radio here was on about banning the shift as a partial remedy.
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2018, 09:21:09 AM »

A progressive​ front-office man for a winning team​ is talking about pitching,​ the Tampa Bay Rays​ and​ the​ future of​ the​​ sport he loves. The more he talks, the more obvious it becomes.

The future scares the hell out of him.

He has “no problem” with the Rays per se, he says. He understands what has led them to trot relief pitchers out there to “open” (but not “start”) the game three or four days a week. What he wonders, though, is this:

Has anyone in charge of this sport thought through the long-term reverberations of this otherwise creative and thoughtful innovation?

“I’m not a purist about much,” this executive says. “But I think baseball is going down a bad road… because part of what baseball is about is the starting pitcher matchup. For as long as baseball has been played, you looked in the paper and asked, ‘Who’s pitching today?’ It’s part of the attraction of our game. If it’s just going to become a collection of guys throwing 50 pitches, we’ve lost something as a sport.”

When a Max Scherzer or Gerrit Cole spins off an epic 15-strikeout, 2-hit kind of evening, that’s baseball theater at its greatest. But when it’s seven pitchers combining for a three-hour, 36-minute, 15-strikeout, two-hit kind of evening, “that’s mind-numbingly bad baseball,” this same exec says.

“I don’t think we’re going down a road we should want to go down,” he says. “But I don’t think we have the courage to stop it.”

The courage to stop it. I’ve been rolling those words around my brain since I first heard them. And when I do, I keep asking the same question: Is this really where baseball is heading?

Could there really be a time, five or 10 or 20 years down that road, when “Starting Pitcher” is no longer a description of an actual job? In 2038, is it possible that folks will think of a “starting pitcher” the way folks in 2018 think of jobs like “milkman” or “Blockbuster store manager?”

And if that’s true, how dangerous an idea is that – not as baseball strategy but as entertainment strategy?

Let’s say this again. For 100 years, the first question everyone asked on the way to a ballpark was always: “Who’s pitching tonight?”

But suppose the answer in 2038 is: “Everybody,” or “Who the heck knows?” Would some of those people then just change their minds and stay home and binge a little Netflix?

So I’ve spent the last week or so asking people around baseball – nearly a dozen managers, GMs and executives of generally successful, forward-thinking teams – one of baseball’s most important questions:

What is the future of the Starting Pitcher?

Here is what they see in their crystal balls.

LONG LIVE THE ACE

It starts with The Ace. It always has. And if baseball is going to survive as a compelling form of entertainment, there is still a school of thought that it always will.

“I remember when I was in college, I went to Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia,” says Astros GM (and Penn grad) Jeff Luhnow. “And the reason I went to that game was to watch Steve Carlton and Dwight Gooden, two of the dominant pitchers in the National League. I know I paid a lot of money – for a college student. But if it was Reliever X pitching against Reliever Y, I’m guessing I wouldn’t have been likely to do that.”

Hey, good guess – because three decades later, the allure of that sort of match-up, Cy Young dueling Cy Young, is still one of the best things baseball has going for it.

The NBA has hitched its entire league to star players who hold the ball in their hands 100 times a game. So now ask yourself: What’s the closest thing baseball has to Steph against LeBron?

It’s Max Scherzer versus Clayton Kershaw. It’s Corey Kluber versus Justin Verlander. It’s Chris Sale versus Luis Severino. No other stars in this sport get to show off just how dominant they are 100 times a night. It’s the essence of baseball – and always has been.

“Looking back when I pitched,” says longtime Braves ace John Smoltz, “you couldn’t help but notice who you were pitching against. I mean, if you know you’re pitching against Pedro Martínez…you can’t help but hyper-focus.

“I just don’t think it’s physically possible,” Smoltz goes on, “to pitch 35 times in the regular season at the level you pitch in the postseason. But when you’re up against Pedro and you know that all you can give up is maybe one run, it elevates you to the level of a playoff game.”

Asked if everything felt different on the days he faced a guy like Pedro, Smoltz says it all in two words: “Oh yeah.”

So is baseball really willing to lose that? That star power? That postseason aura in June? That one stage it can construct for its biggest stars to go toe to toe?

“To me,” says Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, “those types of guys – the Scherzers, the Klubers, the Kershaws, the Sales – will always be valuable. They were valuable looking back at baseball in the past. They’re extremely valuable in the present day. And they’ll be extremely valuable looking ahead.”

Just look at what Luhnow and the Astros have constructed in Houston. Nothing else about the way the Astros operate could possibly be described as old-fashioned, or even conventional. But their starting rotation? It’s such an old-school, made-for-October group, it’s a rotation the ’95 Braves or ’66 Orioles would have been proud to roll out there.

Is that telling us something – that this team, the Houston Astros, built itself around that type of rotation in its quest to win another World Series?

“Yes,” Luhnow says. “But it’s almost impossible to pull off.”

The Astros are as avant-garde a set of outside-the-box thinkers as you’ll find in this sport. But their rotation is pure classic rock: Two former Cy Youngs (Verlander and Dallas Keuchel)….A former No. 1 pick in the country (Cole) “who will probably win (a Cy Young) soon himself,” Luhnow says…. The young, dazzling, ever-improving Lance McCullers Jr….And, in Luhnow’s words, “one of the great comeback stories in baseball” in Charlie Morton.

It’s the kind of rotation, the GM admits, that his front office always aspired to build – and then they actually made it happen. These guys chew up innings. They pile up swings and misses. They take their turn every fifth day. They’re living the dream, every franchise’s dream.

But is this how his pitching staff will always be constructed? Jeff Luhnow is making no promises of that.

“The aim,” he says, “is just to get outs. So if (in the future) you have two dominating starters and a lot of good relievers, maybe you do something different, like Tampa is trying to do right now.”

Which brings us to the other end of this paradigm …

OPEN ARMS IN TAMPA BAY

The Tampa Bay Rays don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what the future looks like for 29 other franchises. They’re doing what they have to do. And neither their franchise nor modern civilization has collapsed, just because they’ve basically dispensed with the idea that they even need a starting rotation, in the traditional sense.

“If we had five Chris Archers or Blake Snells, we wouldn’t be doing this,” says their club president, Matt Silverman.

But they don’t. And they won’t – not this year anyway. So two or three out of every five days, they send a relief pitcher to the mound to “open” the game for three to six outs. Then they basically match up for all the other outs, while trying their best to manage innings, protect young arms and still compete.

To the amazement of millions of humans whose brains are stuck in 1977, this has not been a disaster. In fact, it has mostly been a stroke of (gasp) genius.

Since May 19, when they first began using Sergio Romo – and later others – as their “opener,” before turning the game over to a multi-inning arm, the Rays have racked up the best ERA (2.87), opponent batting average (.205) and opponent on-base percentage (.282) in the entire sport.

It isn’t stunning that much of the rest of the baseball world has spent the last five weeks recoiling in shock and denial over how they’ve done that. But to the front office that devised this approach, it’s just another logical step in modern baseball thinking.

“I don’t see this as anything revolutionary at all,” Silverman says. “It’s almost a continuation of the evolution of roles in the bullpen. It’s a potential next step of how you manage innings and manage a pitching staff.”

So is this the wave of the future? We found a lot of resistance to that idea, on every level. And one of the biggest skeptics is a fellow who used to be pretty much the face of the Rays, Joe Maddon.

The Cubs manager sees the Rays as a team that is “doing this out of necessity – and they’re doing a great job with it.” But will their success push the rest of the sport in this direction? Maddon shakes his head forcefully.

“I don’t think that will ever happen,” he says. “I really don’t, unless there’s some kind of new training technique that permits relief pitchers to throw that often, that well. It’s just not going to happen. The way the game is structured, you need this really reliable starter to go X number of innings to get you through the season and not absolutely obliterate arms. Either that or you have new rules that permit you to shuffle guys between triple-A and the major leagues. Those are the kind of things that you may have to do.

“But I don’t ever see (rotations as we’ve always known them) going away. I don’t. I think it’s impossible, actually.”

We’ve heard those same concerns from other corners. But the Rays don’t see how the challenges of keeping their pitchers healthy change, just because the innings they’re appearing in happen to change.

“It’s the same challenge as managing your pitching staff if you’re managing it conventionally,” Silverman says. “I don’t see a difference there. We have the same concerns and the same level of TLC with these pitchers, whether they’re starting the game and throwing 100 pitches or closing the game. It’s all the same.

“Let’s say a reliever is used primarily as an ‘opener.’ He’s going to pitch the same workload as if he’s pitching the seventh or eighth inning of a game. It’s the same workload management. It will be matched to historical levels and what we think he can accomplish.”

Oh, they’ve had some games reel out of control on them – when they drag into extra innings or when their “opener” unravels in the first inning. But again, they don’t see how that’s different from the havoc other teams are forced to deal with in games like that.

Heck, they don’t even accept our master premise, that a team without true “starters” is less interesting or entertaining.

“You have fans coming to the game saying, ‘Really? Sergio Romo is starting a game? What is this?’” Silverman says. “I think it’s kind of interesting. I think it actually adds some intrigue. And every opponent that we’re playing – their TV and radio guys are spending [a lot of time] talking about it. It’s something new that’s part of the conversation of baseball.”

Ah, but is it the centerpiece of the future of starting pitching? That’s where this debate gets fiery.

WHERE ARE WE HEADING?

So let’s haul those Ouija boards out of the closet. It’s time to predict the future. Not surprisingly, it looks vastly different to baseball men with vastly different perspectives – some of whom prefer not to identify themselves. Here are the highlights of what they foresee:

TEAMS WILL STOP TRYING TO DEVELOP ACES – “What scares me,” says one exec, “is, what’s going to happen to our first-round picks in 15 years? If Max Scherzer was coming up with the Rays, maybe they turn him into a 50-pitch type of guy.”

Another exec, and not one ever referred to as “old-school,” could also see that happening – but still finds the whole thought preposterous.

“You’re an idiot,” he says, “if you have a Max Scherzer and you shorten him to two or three innings. I kind of hope teams do do that – because it’s really dumb… It’s dumb because you’re giving up the other four-to-six innings you’d get at that quality, and because of what it means for your bullpen the next night and the night after that. So you’re giving up a significant advantage, not only for winning that night’s game but also the next night’s game.”

BAD NEWS FOR FREE AGENTS – Once upon a time – by which we mean like two years ago – the good old, league-average, inning-eating starting pitcher was an excellent, lucrative gig. And then last offseason happened.

So Lance Lynn sat around all winter without a job. Alex Cobb sat around all winter without a job. Aníbal Sánchez sat around all winter without a job. Etc., etc.

Well, it wasn’t just Lynn, Cobb, Sánchez and 100 agents who were wondering what that was all about. It was pretty much everyone. But now that picture is beginning to clear up. Last winter was just providing one more window into how new-wave baseball front offices view the value of that sort of starting pitcher.

“Teams now value quality over quantity,” says one of the execs quoted earlier. “They used to value quantity over quality. So two, three, four, five years ago, guys got paid a lot more money to take down those 190-210 innings a year.”

THE “NON-ROTATION” IS CHEAPER, PERIOD – You don’t need an MBA from Harvard Business to do this math. What costs a team more – paying five veteran starters to get the franchise through the season or paying, say, two veteran starters, and filling in the rest of the “starts” with the cast of “Meet the Bullpen?”

It’s a simple equation. So let’s spell it out for you in real-life 2018 payroll dollars.

Cubs rotation (Lester, Darvish, Quintana, Hendricks, Chatwood): $78 million

Rays “non-rotation” (Archer, Snell, Eovaldi, Romo, Stanek): $11 million

“I don’t think you’d get one guy from the management side – who knows this is just financially cheaper – to admit it,” Smoltz says. “But it is. It’s financially cheaper.”

A FUTURE WITH NO SUCH THING AS A TRUE STARTER? – An AL GM with an expensive starting rotation offers that startling prediction – of an entire sport looking at the Rays’ success and embracing it, full-speed ahead.

“I do think we’re getting a glimpse of the future of pitching,” that GM says, “with some of the recent experimentation. While things will surely evolve, I suspect there’s a future reality that includes a staff that’s predominately built around pitchers who are expected to get nine to 15 outs.”

So is he actually predicting we will see a time when “starting pitcher” becomes an almost obsolete job description?

“Yes,” he says, simply.

But is that how most of his peers see it? Nope. Not the execs we’ve surveyed anyway. But here is what they do see….

A FUTURE WITH “THE HORSE” AND THEN FILL-IN-THE-BLANKS – Let’s make this clear. A world with no true starters is not what most people in the game predict. But do they continue to see a world with 150 true starters (i.e., the traditional five starting pitchers per team)? Frankly, many of them see that long-time model crumbling – and sooner than you’d think.

“Personally,” says Andrew Friedman, “I don’t believe there are 150 starters on Planet Earth that can reach a certain threshold (of performance). The ones who do are very helpful to teams winning games. But what about the ones who fall short of that bar? Instead of crossing our fingers, I think there are more proactive ways to put your team in a better position to help win baseball games.”

Brewers GM David Stearns envisions a similar blueprint.

“I think the `horse’ starting pitcher will always be in demand,” Stearns says, “and will always be a desirable and highly valued player in baseball. I do not see that changing. But I do think the industry is always looking for ways to supplement when you don’t have that big starting pitcher. And I think that’s what we’ve seen throughout the league.

“So we shorten up starters (and how many times they go through the lineup). We go with an `opener.’ We rely on more multi-inning relievers. I actually give teams a lot of credit, for looking for outside-the-box solutions. All we’re looking to do is get 27 outs the most effective way we can get them.”

But is that all baseball has become now – a math equation? And if it is, should the sirens be wailing in Rob Manfred’s office 24 hours a day?

“Look,” says one exec, “we’re going to continue to look for ways to find every ounce of value we can find within the rules we’re playing under. That’s what we get paid to do – to find every edge we can to help us win. But if they change the rules, we’ll play by those rules – and look for other ways to win.”

So is it time for baseball to address the rules that apply to starting pitchers, too? We’ve heard a lot of talk from the commissioner lately about the need to balance the analytics explosion in the name of making his sport a more entertaining product. But how could baseball possibly change its rules to prevent all 30 teams from using an “opener?”

The answer, says one exec, is roster limits.

“If they ever give us a 26th man,” he says, “there had better be a requirement for how many hitters and pitchers you have to have…or you could see teams go to 15 pitchers. And that’s just a recipe for terrible baseball.”

So welcome to Rob Manfred’s world – a world now overflowing with issues just like this one. Never before have baseball’s front offices been populated by more innovative thinkers. And that’s mostly a great thing. But is some of that thinking beginning to choke the entertainment out of the nightly show? If it is, that’s a dangerous thing.

And what if the next great casualty of all that deep thinking is the disappearance of Scherzer versus Kershaw, Verlander versus Kluber and the eternal, must-see Battle of the Aces? Is that a threat to the sport that’s so ominous, it might require the sport to act? Stay tuned.

“The one thing positive about the Rays,” says the exec quoted at the beginning of this piece, “is, if they give Sergio Romo or somebody like him 50 starts, maybe it will open the door for rules to counteract that. I hope so – because nothing, to me, is not an answer.”
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Geowhizzer

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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2018, 08:34:20 PM »

Jenrry Mejia will be reinstated in 2019. 

He can do a minor league rehab assignment beginning in August, and will be allowed to attend spring training.
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2018, 02:18:41 PM »

Quote
Chase Utley plans to hold a news conference Friday in Los Angeles and announce that he will retire at the end of the 2018 season, sources told ESPN.

Utley plans to play out the rest of this season, but will not return in 2019, when he is in the second year of a two-year, $2 million contract.

...

He joins former teammates Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino, both of whom recently announced that they were done playing. Utley's announcement comes 10 days before the Dodgers will make their only appearance in Philadelphia this season. The teams will play a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park from July 23-25.
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2018, 11:55:05 PM »

i'd watch much more baseball on tv if there were 10 homers every game.
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #23 on: July 18, 2018, 08:30:44 AM »

i'd watch much more baseball on tv if there were 10 homers every game.

there almost are....this year will obliterate the all time home runs per game record
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #24 on: July 18, 2018, 08:49:37 AM »

We’re going to 10 homers a game out of 12 total hits.
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MDS

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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2018, 02:13:08 PM »

josh hader was MAGAing before it was cool
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"A great many of those who 'debunk' traditional...values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process."

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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2018, 12:44:39 PM »

The Mets asked Matt Harvey (returning to NY for first time with Reds) to make his press conference at 3:45 or 4:15 to avoid Mets manager Mickey Callaway's PR at 4.

He made it at 4.
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #28 on: August 09, 2018, 12:49:44 AM »

Watching Dodgers/A's tonight.  Nice to see Oakland Colosseum packed as there are usually more tarps than fans.  Ton of Dodgers fans in the house.  Started a "Let's Go Lakers" chant and the Oakland crowd quickly shut them down. 
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Re: Rest of Baseball - 2018
« Reply #29 on: August 10, 2018, 05:08:42 PM »

pos ex nat Brandon kintzller melting down against them in the 8th up 1

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