Another day dawns in Nashville, and with it comes another day of anticipation of one of the two biggies on the free agent market — Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke — to sign someplace. As of now the highest-ranked name from our Free Agent Tracker that has signed during the Winter Meetings is Dan Haren at number 14. Not exactly excitement central here this year, unless you count people’s exasperation at Shane Victorino somehow getting $13 million a year from the Red Sox “excitement.”
As for official events here, the schedule is light today as well. There’s the Winter Meetings Gala tonight. It’s a no-media-invited event that, normally, takes place in a hotel ballroom and. From outside in the hallway in years past it looks like a wedding reception or something. This year they’re having it at the Dave and Buster’s in the mall next door to the hotel. Wish I could be part of that, because I’d love to see league officials playing whack-a-mole and stuff.
The unofficial slate resumes as well. Last night I had dinner with some baseball writers at a pretty fantastic burger and beer joint. When people weren’t eating burgers with bacon and eggs on them — yeah, I got one of those — they were checking their phones and noting just how little continues to happen on the signing and trade front. It ended as a very early night for me — I was in bed by 11 because, man, you just gotta pace yourself here — and when I woke up a little while ago I noted that, for the most part, nothing continued to happen overnight.
Maybe today. As always, we’ll have it for you if it does.
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.