Players have reported to their respective spring training sites in Florida and Arizona, but free agent shortstop Stephen Drew is still looking for home. While Drew is said to be looking for $14 million per season, being attached to draft pick compensation has undoubtedly had an impact on his market. He told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman yesterday that he believes the current system is unfair and needs some tweaking:
“You hate to say it, but it really messes up free agency for guys who worked hard,” Drew said. “A lot of people don’t want to give up that first-round pick, and that’s what it boils down to. It’s unusual. I understand draft picks, but at the same time, you have a guy who’s proven as very good on defense and a top five shortstop if you look at it.”
“Our union has been really good. But I think we really have to look at this,” Drew said. “Is this really good for free agency? Our players need to sit back and look at it and see what we need to do about it.”
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, new MLBPA head Tony Clark said yesterday that there “will be dialogue” about the draft pick compensation system and its impact on free agency. However, Heyman writes that we might not see any changes until after the current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2016. As for Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, he’s not worried about finding a deal for his clients.
“Talent has no wristwatch,” Boras said. “When you’re the steak, you don’t worry about what time dinner is.”
Most Scott Boras quote ever? Most Scott Boras quote ever.
Heyman does pass along one new interesting nugget on the Mets suggesting a salary of around $9.5 million for Drew, which is what he made last year. However, the veteran shortstop continues to hold out for something better.
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:
+10 Blue Jays
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:
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.
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.