Anonymous GM: players can’t handle a 162 game season

41 Comments

Jayson Stark spoke with a major league general manager — we don’t know which one — who had a couple of interesting things to say about the length of the season and player stamina and all of that.  The upshot: the GM thinks the season is too long, players can’t handle it, and it needs to be shortened.

What’s more, he cites teams’ use of the disabled list as evidence of this.  Check it out:

“The season’s too long. Guys can’t handle it. In fact, you’d be amazed how many of these DLs are just teams covering for guys who can’t handle it. This isn’t just about guys not being able to handle it physically. Guys can’t handle it mentally. They need mental breaks to regroup.”

The GM goes on to recommend a number of changes to the schedule, including lopping off games, mandatory off days each week and stuff like that in order to keep players fresh.  Stark suggests that the fact that players don’t take greenies anymore has something to do with all of this.

I have no idea what kind of toll being a professional athlete takes on one’s body and one’s mind.  But if this is as bad as the GM makes it out to be, I would think before you go proposing that the schedule be shortened — which will never happen due to the financial impact — you’d consider proposing a couple extra roster spots so as to give managers the ability to give guys a day off once in a while.  This would be especially important for position players who, once upon a time, had more backups on the team but don’t anymore because people have decided that they need 13 guys on the pitching staff.

File this all under “interesting, but what the hell can you really do about it, practically speaking?”

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.