If you’re anti-Barry Bonds now, how can your position about him change over time?

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The San Francisco Chronicle is running a one-on-one of local writers with Hall of Fame votes. Bruce Jenkins takes the pro-Barry Bonds argument, Ann Killion the anti-Bonds. These arguments aren’t rhetorical, though, as they reflect their own votes.

Each side makes a now-familiar case so I won’t rehash them, but Killion’s does add something I’ve seen an awful lot of lately — Bob Ryan had it in the column linked this morning too — and which I find curious: the “I won’t vote for Bonds now, but I may change my mind later” thing:

Just as my views about Bonds have changed over the past decade, they could change again over the next 15 years that his name remains on the ballot. While I’m not one to withhold my vote based on whether I think someone is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, a process I’ve always found inane, I am willing to keep my mind open as the years pass.

The steroid story, as we’ve learned in 2012, is not a closed chapter. It continues to play out and in 15 years, with baseball under a new commissioner and with the perspective of time, the story and its fallout may look different. I could change my mind and check the box next to Barry Bonds.

But I can’t do it right now.

I don’t follow this, at least with respect to Bonds.  While we may have doubts about some players, there are no doubts about Bonds and steroids. He did it. He clearly did it. To suggest otherwise is pretty unreasonable, really. There is no truly relevant information about Barry Bonds playing career or PED use that is going to come out. Waiting will get you nowhere in this respect.

So, it seems, the only possible thing Killion and others who make this argument could be waiting for is for people (i.e. people like herself) to become less dogmatic about PEDs in baseball in the future. To give that “perspective” she’s admitting is possible. Which is a strange position to be taking: “PEDs in baseball is a horrible, horrible thing, so horrible that I can’t abide honoring a person who did them, but maybe in a few years I will be proven wrong about that and I will then change my mind.”

It seems like the only possible basis one’s position could change here is if they discover that Bonds’ transgressions were no different than the transgressions of hundreds of other ballplayers. Which is something we pro-Bonds people are arguing now, but which folks like Killion dimiss out of hand as beside the point. But she’s willing to buy that later?

There may be borderline cases out there for whom this treatment makes sense. McGwire, maybe. Palmeiro, perhaps. But it seems to me that if you’re anti-Bonds now, intellectual consistency demands that you be against him later.

Zack Greinke understands that “the opener” isn’t just about in-game strategy

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Over the weekend, Craig was among those cited as having criticized the Rays by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Craig wrote about it in Sunday’s And That Happened. Many of the responses from Rays fans to him on Twitter, at least most of what I saw, conflated distaste for ownership’s penny-pinching for a belief that the team is bad. Indeed, the Rays enter Tuesday’s action 64-61 and their position above .500 has something to do with “the opener” strategy, which is when they have a reliever like Sergio Romo start the game before handing the ball off to an actual starter after an inning or two. Other teams, like the Twins, have taken notice of “the opener” and have begun experimenting with it.

On Monday, Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller published a lengthy column discussing how recent changes to the game of baseball have made it a worse product. He quotes a lot of old-timers, which I discussed yesterday. Miller also quoted Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke on the subject of “the opener.” While quotes from the likes of Goose Gossage and Pete Rose were a bit more eye-popping, Greinke’s thoughts shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Greinke said:

It’s really smart, but it’s also really bad for baseball. It’s just a sideshow. There’s always ways to get a little advantage, but the main problem I have with it is you do it that way, then you’ll end up never paying any player what he’s worth because you’re not going to have guys starting, you’re not going to have guys throwing innings.

You just keep shuffling guys in and out constantly so nobody will ever get paid. Someone’s going to make the money, either the owners or the players. You keep doing it that way, the players won’t make any money.

Back in May, I wrote about how the overarching concept of “bullpenning” creates a serious labor issue in baseball. Greinke touched on exactly those points. An elite starter makes significantly more money than an elite reliever. Compare contracts signed by David Price (seven years, $217 million) and Max Scherzer (seven years, $210 million) to the contract signed by Aroldis Chapman (five years, $86 million), which is currently the most lucrative contract signed by a reliever. It wouldn’t crack the top-85 contracts in baseball.

A starter’s number of starts and his innings pitched total are both cited in arbitration filings and contract negotiations. A pitcher who made 33 starts in a season will have more leverage than a pitcher who made only 15 starts. Meanwhile, Romo and Ryne Stanek‘s innings totals aren’t much different than a normal year of relief. Thus, if you’re Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman and GM Erik Neander, spreading the number of starts (and innings) between the “rotation” and bullpen will reduce the cost of pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible starters. The owners save this money and pocket it instead of reinvesting it into the team. Then they’ll turn around, cry poor, and ask residents of Tampa to foot the billion-dollar bill for a new stadium in Ybor City, roughly 25 minutes from their current digs.

Greinke is right and we should pay attention to what he’s saying. While “the opener” has some strategic merit, particularly for teams with less-than-complete starting rotations, it also conveniently helps save money for stingy and exploitative front offices. We’ve already accepted that a third of the league gave up on the season before it began. Let’s not accept that teams can give up on their pitching staffs as well.