Jonah Keri has a long, fascinating piece up today about the Texas Rangers and their approach to pitching and pitcher injury prevention. It’s not some analysis piece from afar: it’s based on his original
reporting and research conducted over the past year, and it’s a
The short version: the Rangers have largely rejected the current dogma about babying pitchers and limiting their workload. Not that they’ve gone back to the 60s, mind you. Rather, they’ve started from scratch, thinking about what it really takes to pitch in the Texas heat and focus on the kinds of training and drills that make success in that environment — and in the modern offensive environment — more likely. Sprints instead of distance running. Throwing batting practice between starts. Figuring out each pitcher’s fatigue point rather than mindlessly deciding that everyone wears out at 100 pitches.
It’s probably too early to tell how successful these methods will ultimately be. My personal sense is that some pitchers will break no matter how much you baby them and others will last no matter how hard you work them because that’s just the way genes roll. But as Keri notes, the Rangers aren’t content to treat pitcher usage like it was religion or something (“and thou shalt only throw 100 pitchers lest ye be damned”). They’re using reason and observation and are trying new things.
Clear some time this afternoon and give Jonah’s piece a read.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.