Is the realignment issue really a gambit to make the DH universal?

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I’ve read several articles in which writers are at least somewhat positive and accepting of the recent realignment idea that has been floated. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote the first meaty counterargument today, and it’s a pretty comprehensive one.

I’m not sold on every argument of course — I really don’t care if teams can’t put up “wild card champion” banners in parks and can’t make finishing out of the playoff race sound good by calling it “third place”  — but it’s an intellectual response to the idea as opposed to some emotional traditionalist claptrap you might be expected to hear whenever the idea of change is floated.

But even if I disagree with some of Goold’s criticisms, he makes a great point when it comes to how the idea of constant interleague series — as two 15-team leagues would require — would mess with team rosters due to the fact that clubs would have to switch between the DH game and the non-DH game far more often than they do now for the more sporadic interleague play.  And after detailing the issues with that, he reaches a conclusion that no one has really talked about it yet:

So let’s call this discussion, this talk of realignment, this Trojan horse what it really seems to be: an attempt to force the DH on the NL.

Whether that’s the main idea or merely a side effect, it does seem to be an eminently possible result of two fifteen team leagues. An alternative: loosening roster rules to deal with the changes, but that wouldn’t be ideal and wouldn’t necessarily placate a union that may truly want 16 extra designated hitters in order to sign off on such a plan.

In light of that, are you still cool with realignment?

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.