Satire: Joe Morgan's very special advice to the Reds

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It took a few hours of digging, but HardballTalk has uncovered Joe Morgan’s first memo to GM Walt Jocketty issued under his new title as Special Adviser to Baseball Operations.
Apparently typed by the same person who used to handle his ESPN chats, it reads as follows:

Dearest Walter,
While our 2010 Reds are undoubtedly a fine team, I can’t help but remember how the 1975 Reds were 13-1 after 14 games. We have the game’s greatest manager in Dusty, so it’s time for you to go get us some players.
1. Trade Chris Dickerson to Mets for Gary Matthews Jr.
Matthews is a great defensive outfielder and he gets things done. Some guys seem to focus better when the game’s on the line. Dickerson just strikes out a lot.
2. Trade Drew Stubbs to Mariners for Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey’s old man hit .330 with 25 homers for the 1975 Reds. The Kid’s still got it. Stats don’t tell you about heart, determination and mental attitude.
3. Trade Homer Bailey to the Rangers for Julio Borbon
No pitcher with the name Homer is ever going to be a winner. Why I remember when we went and picked up a pitcher named Woodie Fryman and we never won another World Series. Don’t downplay intangibles. Derek Jeter is the best example that you can get of a guy that helps you win championships with his intangibles. Now, Julio isn’t actually related to our old ace reliever Pedro Borbon, who had 45 saves for the 1975 Reds, but we don’t have to tell anyone that.
4. Trade for Alex Concepcion and Concepcion Rodriguez
I just asked Mark Simon and he told me there were two Concepcions playing in the minors right now. We need them both. Doesn’t matter who you have to give up, Walt. Follow my plan and we’re not going to have use for that Bruce fella anymore anyway.
You go ahead and get started on these and then we’ll see about getting some pitchers. I know you’re pretty much hopeless there after you missed out on Livan over the winter, but I have my eye on a few guys. I’m told Tommy Hanson will be starting on Sunday night, and he reminds me of a young Gary Nolan. I’ll do you a solid and talk him down a bit.
Joe Morgan
Hall of Famer
2 World Championships
2 MVPs
5 Gold Gloves
P.S. Russ Ortiz is available. Not every day you can acquire a 20-game winner.
P.P.S. I’d just like to congratulate my daughter for winning her gymnastics competition last weekend.
P.P.P.S. None of this is real, if that wasn’t abundantly clear already.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon
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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.