Link-O-Rama: Turnaround in Seattle

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* Seattle still has 44 games left to play, but the Mariners have already tied last season’s win total. First-year general manager Jack Zduriencik deserves a lot of credit for how quickly he cleaned house and turned things around with a very different approach than the old regime.
* On a related note, when it comes to Yuniesky Betancourt’s horrible glove Joe Posnanski’s eyes agree with all the advanced defensive metrics. Royals general manager Dayton Moore has made it clear that he doesn’t pay any attention to the stats, but surely he has use of his senses, right?
* Maybe now Yankees fans will finally start to admit that Derek Jeter might be better than Luis Aparicio.
* One of my favorite newspaper beat writers, Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, notes that Joe Mauer is currently leading all three categories for the “sabermetric triple crown.” Mauer has been the best all-around player in the AL this season, yet has almost zero chance to win the MVP.
* Remember a few months ago, when everyone thought that the Rangers had too much catching depth? Not so much.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

billy beane getty

I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.