Ken Rosenthal writes today that he thinks the Rangers could be bigger players on the free agent market than some of us are giving him credit for:
The defending American League champions, major-league sources say, are in strong enough financial position to add not one but two top free agents — left-hander Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez.
That would be something.
But man, I’m skeptical. While that big new TV contract impressed all of us when it was announced, others have reported that it’s fairly backloaded, and that the front-end of it was going to be largely devoted to debt service connected with Chuck Greenberg’s purchase of the team. I don’t have any independent intelligence on that, but some people I talk to who know a few things about the Rangers believe that the TV deal isn’t going to launch them into a new world of payroll expenditures so quickly, even if they do bump it up a tad. And signing Lee and Victor Martinez would certainly be a new world.
Anything is possible — that’s whey we love the hot stove season — but I’m having a hard time seeing the Rangers landing Lee alone — due to the money and the competition involved — let alone getting him and another top-end free agent like Martinez.
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.
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.