31-year-old catcher Cody Clark was called up by the Astros on Friday and will make his major league debut 10 years after originally being drafted by the Rangers.
Clark is the replacement on the roster for Max Stassi, who suffered a concussion after he was hit in the face by a pitch on Wednesday.
Clark was originally a 48th-round pick by the Blue Jays out of high school. He opted to go to Wichita State rather than sign, and he was taken in the 11th round by Texas in 2003. The Rangers, though, weren’t impressed by his offense and released him in 2005. He spent the rest of that year playing Indy ball, joined the Braves’ low-A club in 2006 and then logged six years in the Royals system before joining the Astros on a minor league deal last winter.
Obviously, it took a few breaks to get him his chance now. Never much of a hitter, he’s really fallen off these last couple of years; he hit just .180/.246/.268 for Triple-A Omaha last year and he was at .217/.258/.273 in 158 Triple-A at-bats this season. There’s not really any chance of him playing any long-term role with the Astros, and it’s quite possible he won’t even last for the rest of the year. But after 11 seasons, he can finally say he’s made it. There probably won’t be anyone happier to be in a major league dugout tonight.
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.