Yeah, I went with the cute headline. Sue me.
In signing Yu Darvish to a six-year, $60 million contract, the Rangers committed $111.7 million to the 25-year-old hurler. Whether he’ll stay healthy and justify the expense is anyone’s guess, but given his track record, it was a price worth paying.
My guess is that Darvish becomes far and away the Rangers’ best hurler and the American League Rookie of the Year this season. A Cy Young Award seems unlikely, but it can’t be completely ruled out. My projection for the upcoming Rotoworld draft guide calls for a 15-8 record, a 3.49 ERA and 186 strikeouts in 193 2/3 innings.
Darvish’s first big test will be the adjustment from pitching once a week to once every five or six days. The second will be the Texas heat in the summer. Put him in the NL in a bigger ballpark and I would have projected him for a sub-3.00 ERA this year. Rangers Ballpark, though, is the most hitter friendly in the AL.
I see Darvish getting off to a terrific start, but fading as the year goes on and maybe logging some time on the disabled list with arm fatigue. Darvish was a workhorse in Japan — he completed 10 of his 28 starts and threw 232 innings last season — but this new schedule will take some getting used to. It actually might be for the best if he misses a chunk of July or August; the Rangers should have the depth to cover for him and he’d likely be stronger down the stretch and, hopefully, in the postseason.
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.