Ladies and gentlemen, Indians team president Mark Shapiro:
No idea what you mean, Mark.
Anyway: They keep on coming, so we keep passing them along. This one: Joe Saunders of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Part of it is pretty conventional:
[Saunders] was a regular at the D-backs’ training facility at Salt River Fields, with help and encouragement from strength and conditioning coach Nate Shaw. “Not only is it a big year for me, but it is a big year for the team. I wanted to come up here and see what I could do for myself. I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in heading into a spring training”
But there’s also a hint of TMI for those interested:
The experience of being temporarily on the job market made him stronger and wiser — and maybe even a little bit sexier.
“My wife said my butt has gotten a little bit smaller,” Saunders said with a smile, the result of all the extra work he has done to prepare for this season and beyond.
Try to get that out of your mind as you watch Saunders pitch this year, sports fans.
Games start a week from Friday, people. I predict the BSOHL stuff will dry up by then. But for now, we don’t have much more to go with.
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.