What would you do with a 26-man roster?

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Jonah Keri speculates that when the labor deal is revisited after the 2011 season the owners may offer up a 26th roster spot to the union in exchange for one thing or another.  Seems totally plausible to me.

He also assumes that rather than do something useful such as add a position player and increase platoon usage, most managers will add a 13th or 14th pitcher to the roster.  Also seems totally plausible to me.

If there was any justice in the universe, Bud Selig’s little competition committee would propose that teams (a) be limited to 11 pitchers on the roster at any given time; but (b) be given greater flexibility to shuttle pitchers up and down from the minors to deal with fatigue and injuries and stuff.  That way you would be able to enhance the game by increasing the possibility of more creative deployment of position players while not unduly taxing precious arms.

But then I remember that Tony La Russa is member of that committee and that we’ll all be lucky to escape this thing without there being a new rule mandating two pitching changes per inning.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.