Sometimes the jokes just write themselves. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Phillies have recently expressed interest in current free agent outfielder Vernon Wells. Wells was released by the Yankees last week and the Angels are paying the majority of his $21 million salary for 2014, so acquiring Wells is as cheap and risk-free as it can get.
Wells just turned 35 and hasn’t been an above-average regular since 2010, his last year with the Blue Jays. Since then, his offense has all but disappeared, dropping from an .847 OPS in 2010 to a career-low .631 last season. His defense and base running, which used to be assets, have become hindrances to his value.
That being said, Wells can still be a useful platoon or a bench bat. Wells posted an OPS near .700 against lefties and he has historically hit lefties even better than that. The Phillies already have two right-handed hitters, who should be used in a platoon situation but won’t be, in John Mayberry and Darin Ruf, but another team may be able to find a spot for Wells.
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.