"Everybody else gets screwed" except the Yankees and Red Sox

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Bud Selig has his little committee to talk about speed of the game, the postseason schedule and other rules changes.  The USA Today put their own committee together — including guys like Dusty Baker, Torii Hunter, Scott Boras and former umpire Steve Palermo — to talk about many of the same things, and unlike Bud’s group, USA Today showed its work.  The most interesting thing to me: everyone says that those pitch-striker strike zone boxes used on TV broadcasts are ridiculously off, which is something I’ve suspected for a while. “They should say at the bottom of the screen, ‘This is for entertainment purposes only,'” Palermo says.

The most controversial stuff — but I think the most righteous — comes when the subject of speed-of-the-game comes up:

“When you got a 15-13 game, it’s going to take
3½ hours,” Palermo says. “But I don’t think it should take 3 hours, 5
minutes to play a 2-1 game. You’re putting everybody in a deep freeze
by doing that. You might as well have Dean Smith come out and do Four Corners.”

The trouble, Palermo says, is there are certain teams and individuals who continually ignore baseball’s directives.

“This is a hot button with the commissioner,”
Palermo says. “We’ve got a couple teams — I’m not going to name names,
but I think everybody knows who they are — and they’re arrogant. They
don’t think this pertains to them. I had a president of one of those
ballclubs tell me the system is flawed. I told him, ‘Then how did the
28 other teams conform to what we’re asking except for you and your
next-door neighbor that you have a rivalry with?’

Says Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter,
realizing along with the other panelists that Palermo is alluding to
the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox “Everybody else gets screwed but those two teams.”

You don’t need a panel of experts to tell you that the Yankees and Red Sox have turned baseball into a snooze-fest, but it’s somewhat surprising to hear people in and around the game being so up front about it. They’re particularly tough on Papelbon, who always takes extra pitches in the bullpen after being summoned, thus lengthening the time for pitching changes, but they go on about the Yankees’ excessive mound visits too.  For my money they could pile on about how long and how often guys on those teams step out of the batters’ box in between pitches too.

We get it, Red Sox and Yankees: you’re important.  But you’re not THAT damn important, so get on with it, will ya?

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.