Brewers bench Corey Hart for Jim Edmonds

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Not only did Jim Edmonds earn a spot on the Brewers at age 39 after sitting out all of last season, he’s in their Opening Day lineup starting in place of Corey Hart in right field and batting fifth behind Prince Fielder.
Hart was brutal this spring, batting 11-for-64 (.172) with 18 strikeouts while Edmonds went 14-for-48 (.292) with two homers and four doubles, and getting an extra left-handed bat into the lineup against Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez no doubt played a part in manager Ken Macha’s decision as well.
During his career Jimenez has held righties to a .220 batting average and .624 OPS compared to a .248 batting average and .715 OPS from lefties. Similarly, over the past three seasons Hart has an .861 OPS against lefties compared to .778 against righties, and prior to sitting out last year Edmonds posted a robust .882 OPS versus righties in 2008.
In other words, starting Edmonds over Hart in right field today probably gives the Brewers a slightly better chance to beat Jimenez and the Rockies, but given that Hart has been their everyday right fielder for the past three years and Edmonds didn’t play at all in 2009 it certainly qualifies as an Opening Day surprise by Macha.

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.