Theo Epstein

Source close to Theo: It’s “50-50” Epstein would leave the Red Sox


Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that Theo Epstein is truly on the fence about leaving Boston, with one source close to Epstein saying that it’s 50-50 Epstein would take another job.

It’s all rather touchy-feely, of course. Epstein may want to go to find a new challenge, but he feels a loyalty to the organization and has a year left on his deal.  Meanwhile, owner John Henry loves Theo and seems to want him to stay but, according to Edes “there also is the sense that the loyalty Epstein feels toward Henry is reciprocal, and that Henry would not stand in the way if Epstein wanted to pursue another opportunity.”

So if he goes, where does he go?  Everyone talks about the Cubs, but the Angels job just opened up too, Edes reminds us.  As for a Theo replacement, Edes’ sources believe strongly that assistant GM Ben Cherington would get the nod.

How does this resolve itself? It seems that a job offer will set things in motion, not a firing of or a resignation by Epstein.  He’ll leave if he can find a job he likes. If not, he’s back.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon
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I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

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.