Random stuff from Bobby Cox

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The first manager sitdown just happened — Bobby Cox on one side of the room, Jim Riggleman on the other.  You won’t be surprised to hear that I went with Cox, figuring that a chance to ask questions to the guy who has shaped and lead my favorite team since I was a teenager wasn’t one to pass up.  I wasn’t alone, however, as Cox easily had three times the number of reporters around him than Riggleman did.  Random Bobby Cox stuff:

  • The Braves have thought about moving Chipper Jones to first base here and there, but they’ve had no discussions with him about it this winter and probably won’t.  Cox admits that Jones had a bad year defensively last year, but that he should have won the Gold Glove two years ago.  I guess Terry Pendleton was once a gold glover too, so at some point I suppose you have to cut off that kind of analysis.

  • Is Martin Prado your starting second baseman, Bobby? “He’s gonna start somewhere.”  Cox suggested that he could be an outfielder. Or a first baseman. I’d be shocked to see him start anywhere other than second, but I suppose the Braves still have holes and/or the need for leverage in negotiations with guys like Adam LaRoche.

  • What about the possibility of Rafael Soriano or Mike Gonzalez accepting arbitration?  “If they both accept we’ll have the best bullpen ever.”  Despite this, Bobby has no idea. He does know that no matter who’s in the bullpen next year, Billy Wagner is the closer. “He’s the closer no matter what,” Cox says.

  • Cox, in his last season as manager, wants no part of naming his successor.  He thinks any number of guys on his staff would be good, but that’s Frank Wren’s decision, says Bobby.

  • He was cagey about whether Jason Heyward would start the season on the big club.  After acknowledging that he’s probably the best prospect in baseball and has a great makeup, he would only say that “we’re going to give him a chance to win a job next year.”  I suppose you can’t just come out and admit that you’re going to keep a dude on the farm until you’re sure he’s not going to be a Super Two.

Lou Piniella is sitting down now. I’m going to go ask him why he’s been so unfair to Milton Bradley.

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.