This hasn’t been a good couple weeks for Russ Canzler.
Last season he won the International League MVP award after hitting .314 with 18 homers, 40 doubles, and a .930 OPS for Durham, made his big-league debut in September with a handful of at-bats, and for a while at least it looked like the 25-year-old first baseman might get a chance as the Rays’ starter.
Then last week Tampa Bay signed Carlos Pena, ruling out that possibility, and now they dropped Canzler from the 40-man roster altogether to make room for Jeff Keppinger. From atop the depth chart to on the waiver wire in less than a week.
Keppinger, who was non-tendered by the Giants last month, finalized a one-year, $1.525 million deal with the Rays and they designated Canzler for assignment. It’ll be interesting to see if Canzler is claimed off waivers, because while certainly not a top prospect he’s had back-to-back big seasons in the minors and would seemingly be a nice bench bat at worst.
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.