Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day

Johnny Damon turned down the Red Sox because he thought the Tigers wanted him


Remember last August when the Red Sox claimed Johnny Damon on waivers and some talk of a trade happened?  There was a day or two’s back and forth on that, as Damon had a limited no-trade clause that prevented him being traded to the Red Sox without his approval. Ultimately he said no to the idea and rejected the deal.

Today Damon tells Alex Speier of WEEI why he did so:  because he thought that the Tigers wanted him back in 2011. Except at the time Damon claimed that the determining factor was whether he’d get playing time down the stretch, not whether he’d be brought back for 2011.

Not that this is a giant issue or anything. It’s not like the Red Sox would have kept him either, and he’d probably still be in Tampa Bay right now.

But to the extent Damon’s current claim implies that the Tigers misled him or something, it seems to be a bit too much.  To take Damon’s word for it, he inquired last year if the Tigers were going to play him in 2010. He was satisfied with their answer.  As such, he shouldn’t be saying that it was anything the Tigers told him about 2011 that kept him from OK’ing a trade to Boston.

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.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

billy beane getty

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.