Tom Ricketts: signing Pujols or Fielder is Theo’s call

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Are the Cubs really looking at Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols? Are they just trying to drive up the price for St. Louis?  Are they looking to go big or are they going to cast out every player who isn’t nailed down and start from scratch?

We’ve heard all of these things in the past few weeks. Their offseason strategy is still unclear.

But one thing is clear: it will be Theo Epstein making these decisions, not ownership.  That’s what the owner himself said yesterday when talking to the Chicago press:

“Like I’ve always said, there is one person responsible for making those decisions, and one person accountable for those results,” he said. “So if (Epstein) believes strongly that’s what’s in the best interests of the team, then he’s got my support.”

Theo Epstein’s last couple of big ticket free agent signings we less than stellar.  True, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are a different class of talent than John Lackey and Carl Crawford, but does he go to the well again?

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.