Gary Matthews wants out of Anaheim

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Little Sarge is tired of being a fifth outfielder:

“I don’t expect to be back; it’s time to move on,” outfielder Gary Matthews, Jr. said as he packed his belongings in the team’s Angel Stadium clubhouse
today. “I’m ready to play for an organization that wants me to play
every day. This organization has other plans, and that’s OK . . . I just feel like it’s time for me to play for an organization that believes I can contribute every day, from day one.”

Even if Gary Matthews has had no business starting games in Anaheim these past few years — and he hasn’t — it’s still not hard to understand his frustration. Like Juan Pierre across town, (a) it’s not Matthews’ fault that his team gave him so much damn money — you wouldn’t have turned it down either; and (b) it’s not unsurprising that he thinks he can still play, even if people who aren’t Gary Matthews make a compelling case that he’s wrong about that.   He’s a ballplayer and he wants to play ball. He doesn’t sound like he’s being too much of a crank here — he knows the Angels don’t want him and he’s not grousing about that — he just wants to do what his maker intended.

But the money is still obviously the problem here. He’s owed $23 million over the next two years, and no one is going to want to pay that for what Gary Matthews is capable of giving them.  And of course, even if the Angels eat almost all of it — which they probably should — I’m not sure if an “organization that wants [Matthews] to play
every day” exists.

I think a lot of teams could use him as a fourth outfielder, though, and that would represent something of an upgrade for him.  For the Angels, simply bidding adieu to a bad business decision may be rather satisfying as well, so look to see Matthews either dealt or released sometime soon.

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.