A pitch clock in Major League Baseball? No thanks.

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Andy Martino of the Daily News writes today about the possibility of a pitch clock — an actual clock counting down the seconds — being added to the game in order to speed things up. There is some support for it, he says, and runs down the pros and cons. He notes that Tom Werner — who spoke out on this issue the other day — prefers a pitch clock to other options.

One of those options, as we noted the other day, is simply enforcing Rule 8.04 and Rule 6.02, requiring the pitcher to throw the ball in a timely manner and requiring the batter to stay in the batters box between pitches. Martino talks to Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy about that, and McCarthy notes that the 12 seconds allowed in Rule 6.02 may be extreme. He may very well have a point there, and perhaps changing that rule to, like, 18 seconds and enforcing it is more realistic than 12, but at least it’s a rule with a pedigree and a place to start that does not require radical change.

But as we’ve noted a lot recently, baseball seems to be taken with the idea of adding unnecessary rules and unnecessary components of new rules these days. They felt the All-Star Game wasn’t holding people’s interest? They made it decide home field advantage in the World Series. They felt they had a problem with small market teams not being able to compete? Rather than give them money or draft picks, they put them in a lottery. They felt they had a problem with calls being missed? Rather than simply solve that with a straightforward replay system that would allow umpires to correct their own mistakes, they added an unnecessary manager’s challenge. They felt they had a problem with catchers getting hurt on plate collisions? They made a new rule rather than enforcing existing rules about when catchers can and cannot block the plate. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but baseball has been a big fan of 90 degree turns and long arcs these days.

Which is a shorter way of saying: get used to the idea a little box with a ticking down clock in the corner of your baseball broadcast, because that sort of thing seems way more in character with baseball’s problem-solving approach lately than, you know, actually solving the problem in the most efficient and least-intrusive possible manner.

2017 Winter Meetings Preview

Craig Calcaterra
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — The baseball world has descended on the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World for the 2017 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

The two biggest names on the market — Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton — have found new homes, but so far only 33 of baseball’s 249 free agents have signed, almost all of them minor. Still looking for a home: Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, CC Sabathia, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Greg Holland and many, many more. In early November we ran down the top free agents, position-by-position, to help you get a jump on who is available and what your team is looking at as it seeks to fill its needs.

It’s not just players looking for homes this week, however. It’s teams looking to make up for their failures in the Ohtani and Stanton derbies. The Cardinals and Giants both went big to get Stanton and came up empty. The Giants were likewise in Ohtani, but no dice. Baseball’s worst team in 2017 is obviously willing to spend some money to improve, and now they will look elsewhere to spend it. The Red Sox weren’t in on those two, but since it’s biggest rival landed Giancarlo Stanton, GM Dave Dombrowski will no doubt be kicking the tires hard on J.D. Martinez or Eric Hosmer to try to keep pace. The Mariners acquired a lot of international pool money in their quest for Ohtani, but they could still use a starting pitcher or two, so perhaps they may look at, say, Jake Arrieta? Lance Lynn? Yu Darvish? Well, they should, but who knows if they will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is a thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. The Marlins already traded Stanton, but their fire sale does not seem to be over. Could they deal the newly-acquired Starlin Castro? Christian Yelich? Marcel Ozuna? Bet on yes, and bet on any team wishing to spend prospects instead of free agent cash to take what Miami is unloading. Other potential trade candidates: Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, Rays starter Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria and Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Trade deals and free agent negotiations take place behind closed doors at the Swan and Dolphin. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year there are six new men at the helm: Dave Martinez in Washington, Mickey Callaway with the Mets, Gabe Kapler — Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager — in Philly, Alex Cora in Boston, Aaron Boone with the Yankees and Rob Gardenhire with the Tigers. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun. Or if any of them slug me for saying that they’re ugly.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings. The big one everyone is talking about this offseason is the possibility of a pitch clock.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene down here at Disney World, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event.