Blue Jays in running to acquire Doumit from Pirates

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic reports that the Pirates and Blue Jays are discussing a Ryan Doumit deal, with Jeremy Accardo possibly going the other way.
The Mariners and Giants also reportedly have some interest in Doumit. Because of Buster Posey’s presence, the Giants are known to prefer a catcher on a one-year deal, but they could potentially use Doumit at first base in 2011 if they acquire him.
Toronto also has a possible catcher of the future in J.P. Arencibia, but he was lousy in Triple-A last season, hitting just .236/.284/.444 in the offensive paradise that is Las Vegas. He’s also rough defensively. That should make them more willing to take on a multiyear option, though Doumit still might be a little more expensive than they’d like. He’s due $3.55 million next year and $5.1 million in 2011. There are also club options on his deal for the following two years at $7.25 million and $8.25 million.
At the same time Doumit may be leaving, it appears as though the Pirates are bringing in some competition for Ronny Cedeno at shortstop. The Denver Post’s Troy Renck says they’re on the verge of signing Bobby Crosby to a one-year deal.

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.