braun tall getty

Ryan Braun’s attorney criticizes the collector’s statement


Dino Laurenzi Jr. is the man we’ve come to call “the collector” in the Ryan Braun case.  He defended himself the other day following Ryan Braun’s sharp criticism of him at his press conference. Now Braun’s attorney, David Cornwell, has issued a statement defending Braun from the defense:

“Ryan Braun presented a winning defense in the forum that counted. The collector’s attempt to re-litigate his conduct is inappropriate.  The landmark decision in Ryan’s favor was based on the evidence & the plain meaning of the words in baseball’s Joint Drug Program.  Both Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association should be applauded because their Joint Program worked.”

Again, as we’ve said a number of times, both Braun — as the accused — and Laurenzi — whose conduct, whatever he may say about it or what we may think of it, was determined to not have adhered to the Joint Drug Agreement by the aribitrator — are interested parties here.  Each has something to lose if their conduct is cast in a bad light. As such, these competing statements, while interesting, do little to get us to any absolute truth here.

Absent further details about the specific reasons why the abritrator ruled the way he did, we’re no further ahead in substantive knowledge here.  It’s just people taking swipes at one another.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

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.