Ever since Ron Blomberg and his ilk ruined our national pastime lo those 37 years ago, the rule has been that the designated hitter is to be used when an American League team hosts the All-Star Game, and that the pitchers will bat when in a Senior Circuit park.
That is no more, as baseball announced a few moments ago that, henceforth, the DH will be used in all All-Star games. In the AL, the fans will choose the DH. The manager for the NL team will choose who will DH for him. And despite what you think I was going to say about it, I like this move.
The All-Star Game is not real baseball as we all know and love it. It’s an exhibition. Multiple substitutions are made and regular strategy is thrown out the window, so why not give the people what they want (and no matter what I say about the DH, I’ll freely admit that the masses want it). And to be honest, it may actually improve the All-Star Game. As of now, new pitchers are used almost every inning, so they’re always fresh and always firing it in there. In light of this fact, the teams could use all the extra offense they can muster.
- Any pitcher selected to an All-Star Team who starts a regular season
game on the Sunday immediately preceding the All-Star Game will not be
eligible to pitch in the All-Star Game and will be replaced on the
roster. Upshot: teams will make sure that their best pitchers all pitch on that Sunday, I presume.
- Rosters will be expanded from 33 players to 34 players, with the additional player being a position player. Let’s call this the “Chris Sabo Rule,” shall we?
- There already exists a rule that says a catcher who has already played in the game and left can come back in to the game if the last eligible catcher is injured. That rule is being expanded to cover one additional non-catching position player.
The one rule change that we would all like to see — the elimination of the All-Star Game determining home field advantage in the World Series — did not occur. Given that was basically Bud Selig’s baby, I presume we won’t see that change until he has gone off to Commissioner of Baseball Valhalla.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.