Rick Peterson joins Brewers as pitching coach

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Injuries, poor performances, and free-agent losses led to Milwaukee’s rotation ranking dead last in baseball with a 5.37 ERA this season, and the Brewers have hired former A’s and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson to fix things.
Peterson built up a very strong reputation while working with “The Big Three” of Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Mark Mulder in Oakland from 1998-2003, but struggled after taking the same job with New York, reportedly played a big part in the disastrous Scott Kazmir-for-Victor Zambrano trade, and was fired in mid-2008.
Peterson worked under Ken Macha in Oakland and Willie Randolph in New York, and that pair is now the manager-bench coach combo in Milwaukee. They obviously thought highly of his work and Peterson explained that “our philosophies are aligned” after making his two-year contract official at a press conference this afternoon.
There’s clearly a lot of work to do with a pitching staff that allowed the second-most runs in the league, but Peterson at least begins his tenure with a dependable veteran closer in Trevor Hoffman and a young top-of-the-rotation starter in Yovani Gallardo. His biggest test may be trying to turn Manny Parra’s career around, assuming of course that the Brewers don’t trade the 26-year-old left-hander.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

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.