There’s been an awful lot of talk about extending the division series from five to seven games recently. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo suggests doing the opposite:
With the season getting too long, how about cutting the Division Series from five to three games and the League Championship Series from seven to five games? Teams with the best pitching would be rewarded in the Division Series because they’d be able to use their top three starters. Of course, there would always be upsets, which is fine, too . . . Baseball should not reduce its regular season from 162 games – you wouldn’t want to compromise all the numbers associated with the modern era – but tweaking the postseason might create more excitement in shorter series.
Compromising the modern era? Assuming he means the post-deadball era, does he not realize that baseball had a 154 game season for 41 years of that period, most of which people refer to as baseball’s “Golden Age?” No, I don’t really want to shrink the season down either — I prefer more scheduled doubleheaders — and I don’t believe that the 40s and 50s really were the Golden Age, but you can’t tell me that making a best of three playoff series is preferable to lopping off a week’s worth of games.
A best of three series would make a mockery of the first round. If the schedule is so important, baseball would be better served by simply eliminating the first round.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.