John W. Henry, Tom Werner

Red Sox CEO Tom Werner goes after the media for making unfounded accusations against Red Sox players


This is somewhat unusual: Tom Werner, the CEO of the Boston Red Sox has taken to to respond to Dan Shaughnessy’s accusing questions to David Ortiz about PED use and various media members’ accusations against Clay Buchholz about doctoring the baseball:

I fully acknowledge the right the media has to ask difficult questions and to express controversial opinions. Freedom of the press is fundamental in our culture.

They had the right, but was it right?

We’re in a new media world, and fact-less accusations stick.  Those who publicly ask questions must take responsibility for their words … In today’s media world, the question — even if it’s false, inflammatory and without real basis — can become the story.

I get this. Particularly in the case of David Ortiz (the Buchholz accusations seem to have at least some basis to them). He’s upset about it and understandably so.

At the same time: the Red Sox front office has been notorious for years for floating anonymous smack about people against whom they have a beef, including to the very Boston Globe which Werner is now criticizing. So maybe, just maybe, there is a culture there to which his organization as at least partially contributed, yes?

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon
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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.