Brandon Wood, Howard Kendrick

Pirates claim Brandon Wood off waivers from Angels


Designated for assignment by the Angels last week, Brandon Wood has predictably been claimed off waivers by the Pirates, who had the No. 1 waiver position by virtue of their MLB-worst 57-105 record last year.

That the Angels couldn’t find a team willing to give up something of even marginal value for Wood shows just how far the one-time top prospect’s stock has fallen, but Pittsburgh is certainly an ideal destination.

Ronny Cedeno has hit just .170 through 18 games as the Pirates’ starting shortstop, so Wood should get a chance to wrestle playing time away from him there while also seeing action as a backup elsewhere.

He’s been historically inept through 173 big-league games, hitting .168 with 153 strikeouts versus 13 walks in 494 plate appearances, but despite seemingly being around forever Wood is still just 26 years old and has hit .283 with an .886 OPS over 330 games in the admittedly hitter-friendly environment at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Wood is certainly never going to be the superstar many people projected him to become just a few years ago and the complete lack of strike zone control means he may never even make it as a valuable role player, but there’s still some potential for usefulness and the Pirates can certainly afford to give him a few hundred plate appearances in an attempt to flesh it out.

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.