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Great Moments in Consistency: Mark Teixeira-against-the-shift edition


Mark Teixeira has had a tough time hitting left-handed. Teams are pulling the old Ted Williams shift on him, stationing everyone on the right side and daring him to keep pulling the ball.  Which he has been, to less-than-great results of late.

Last August, the New York Times ran an article on this, and reported this as the official position of Yankees’ hitting coach Kevin Long and manager Joe Girardi with respect to Teixeira trying to thwart the shift by hitting to the left side and such:

“‘The main thing is he can’t get hung up on it,’ Long said of the shift, ‘because we’re seeing it more and more …’  Long and Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said they did not want to see Teixeira try to change who he is as a hitter.”

And here’s Long quoted in Andrew Marchand’s piece over at ESPN New York today:

Kevin Long said he has told Teixeira, “Hey, take a single sometimes. . .”  His power is to the pull side, which is why he’s reluctant to go the other way. I think he needs to learn to hit the ball up the middle or the other way, because if you consistently hit into the shift, there just ain’t no holes. It’s something he’s got to work on …  There’s got to be a little give-and-take. He’s going to have to change his routines a little.”

I suppose everyone is entitled to change their mind. For what it’s worth, though, Teixeira doesn’t seem to be changing his.  In both articles he says he’s not gonna become no slap hitter.  So this spring should be fun in Tampa.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

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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

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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.