“It’s more fair than eight.”
— Bud Selig, when asked if ten playoff teams — which Selig is strongly considering for 2012 — is “fair.” And 12 is more fair than ten, and 16 is way more fair than 12. We can play this game all day if we want to.
Either way, with the union appearing to adopt the idea of an expanded playoff wholeheartedly, it seems inevitable that it’s going to happen. Baseball will survive this, just as as it survived the wild card. But let’s not equate survival with optimal conditions, OK? Baseball’s playoffs are better than the other sports precisely because mediocre teams are, for the most part, kept out.
And, it’s worth noting, if there was a 10-team setup this year, there would have been basically zero pennant race drama whatsoever apart from a bit of a battle between Boston and Chicago for the fifth slot in the AL. The whole thing between San Francisco, San Diego and Atlanta would have been totally academic.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.