Guerrero celebrates with teammates after they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays during Game 5 of their American League Division Series MLB baseball game in St. Petersburg

Plaschke: Five things baseball needs to do in order to fix the postseason

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The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke has a column today offering the five things he’d do in order to “fix” the baseball playoffs.  Let’s take them one-by-one:

Stretch out the Division Series to seven games

This, in theory, I like. Anything that can reduce the fluky nature of a short series would be nice. Plus, more baseball is always a better idea than less baseball. Which makes the second suggestion so awful:

Reduce the season to 154 games

No thanks. Plaschke offers this one as a means of accommodating the longer first round, but I think there are better ways to do it. For one things the owners aren’t going to want to simply eliminate eight games from the revenue stream, er, I mean schedule. Instead, schedule extra double headers. One a month would almost totally make up for the longer first round. The biggest objection to double headers now is that they reduce revenue due to wonky TV times and reduction in gate. I think a lower bit of revenue in this respect is preferable to the total elimination of it for eight games under Plaschke’s plan, don’t you?

Eliminate weekend playoff games

This is the one that bothers me the most on a gut level. Not because the absence of weekend playoff games would gall me so much — to be honest, I’m more likely to watch during the week as it is because of social commitments and whatnot — but because the suggestion for this is to avoid competition with football. Maybe it makes sense. Football ratings are pretty unstoppable, I suppose. But man, that’s defeatist and it just bugs me on a primal level. I realize that everything in the world is for sale and that I’m probably swimming against the tide in this regard, but baseball was there first, dammit. I don’t care if it gets beat in the ratings by a random NFL game. I don’t care if it gets beat by a “Punky Brewster” marathon on ABC Family.  Besides, if Plaschke is really animated about the TV ratings, his next suggestion makes no sense anyway:

Play more day games

The reason: day baseball is charming and baseball needs to “get back to its roots.” Look, if charm is what you’re after, that’s great. I love charm! And I love day baseball. But if you care about the ratings as Plaschke obviously does based on the last suggestion, this would be suicide. We all complain about late baseball games, but there’s a reason for them: better ratings. People aren’t at work (and if the playoffs are only during the week, yes, everyone who still has a job in this economy is going to be at work). The only hope of this working is if you make it a Saturday or Sunday game, and then you’re up against Big State U. vs. Big State Tech or some of that awful NFL business.

Reduce the champagne showers

This is a just because. And as I’ve been writing lately, I’d be on board with it. It’d be silly to ban it, obviously, because players are grownups and they should do whatever the hell they want to do, but if I was running a team I’d really hope that my players would limit it to clinching the postseason and winning the World Series. But I suppose everyone’s mileage on this varies.

So where does that leave us? Surprised, really. I agree with two of Plaschke’s five suggestions entirely and one in theory, even if I think it’s probably unworkable.  A 60% agreement rate has to be some kind of record for me when it comes to Plaschke columns and/or columns about fixing a game that really isn’t broken.

CC Sabathia: getting in shape and ready for baseball

sabathia getty
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CC Sabatha made headlines in October when he abruptly left the Yankees to go into alcohol rehab. After a month there he came back and gave interviews about his decision and his battle with the bottle and then disappeared into the offseason the way most players do.

He emerged the other day and spoke with the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and says that he’s ready for baseball once again. Indeed, in some ways he’s more ready now than he usually is by mid February. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions for the past three weeks — he normally waits until he gets to Tamps — and he says his troublesome knee is feeling good.

 

Sabathia will turn 36 during the season. In 2015 he was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts and posted his lowest strikeout rate in a decade. Late in the season, however, with the help of a knee brace, he was at his most effective in some time. He won’t need to return to 2008 form in order to help the Yankees this season, but he will need to look more like he did in September if he is to help the Yankees to the playoffs.

Jacob deGrom open to extension with Mets

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom talks during media day for the Major League Baseball World Series against the Kansas City Royals Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.

While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.

“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’

It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.

DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.

Royals, Mike Moustakas avoid arbitration with two-year deal

Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates after hitting an RBI single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Seriesagainst the Toronto Blue Jays  on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.

The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.