Cole Hamels’ agent is in Florida this week and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that long-term contract negotiations with the Phillies “are heating up.”
According to Salisbury, agent John Boggs has already met with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. once and plans to do so again later this week.
Asked to describe the present status of negotiations, Boggs said:
Basically, we’re talking. It’s a process. We’ve had a conversation and we’ll continue the dialogue. Ruben and I have a very good relationship.
However, he replied “I don’t see that happening” when asked if he thought it was possible for the two sides to reach an agreement before he leaves Florida.
The good news for the Phillies is that Boggs and Hamels apparently aren’t setting any sort of deadline for talks, so unlike many other impending free agents they won’t cut off all negotiations on Opening Day. So while they won’t be giving the Phillies a hometown discount, they also won’t be trying to pressure Amaro and company into what Boggs called “a frenzy” that can be created by self-imposed deadlines.
Ultimately it’s going to take more than $100 million to keep Hamels in Philadelphia beyond this season, but it sounds like the Phillies will have every opportunity to retain him if they’re willing to make that commitment before he hits the open market next winter.
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.