Mike Matheny admits that players’ contracts matter when it comes to assigning bullpen roles

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We’ve talked a lot in the past about how the save is one of the only if not the only statistic which dictates how the game is played instead of the other way around. Closers get saves, saves are considered valuable, so you make sure your closer gets his saves, regardless of whether or not that pitcher may be better-used in a non-save situation.

Everyone knows how this works, but rarely do you hear a manager actually come out and admit that saves — and the nice fat closer contracts for which they form the basis — come into play when it comes time to decide how to use a reliever.

Mike Matheny of the Cardinals said it, however, when talking about internal discussions the Cards have had regarding maybe using the closer in non-save situation. From Derrick Goold’s column at the Post-Dispatch:

Matheny said Sunday it’s appealing, but the save stat cannot be ignored.

“You want to be respectful, too, to what these guys are trying to do individually,” Matheny said. “For us as a team to move forward certain things need to happen and a lot of times it’s trying to create an atmosphere where each of these guys are able to achieve everything, and there are contracts involved. There are personal statistics that help drive personal achievement as far as salaries go. For us to be completely oblivious to that, I think is a mistake as well.

“Then you start having some friction,” Matheny continued. “There are outside influences that are constantly pushing these guys toward the statistics that are going to get them paid someday, right?”

Matheny admits, however, that the save is, in fact, an arbitrary stat and that maybe it’d be better if salaries aren’t based on it so much.

For what it’s worth, we’ve seen several relief pitchers get big deals because they have great stuff, not just great save stats in recent years. Our Drew Silva notes on Twitter that Andrew Miller had one career save entering free agency last winter and still got a four-year, $36 million contract. Likewise, Ned Yost chose a few non-closers for the AL All-Star team this year. Managers and front offices are smart enough to know where real value is in a relief pitcher. That said, arbitration panels may not be, and then there’s the whole idea of ego and “role” that Matheny alludes to complicating it.

Still, some pretty notable candor from Matheny here. Thoughts on this, Huston Street?

The Players’ Weekend uniforms are terrible

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The Yankees and the Dodgers have a storied World Series history, having met in the Fall Classic 11 times. Part of what made those falls so classic was the livery worn by each club.

The Yankees’ uniforms have gone unchanged since 1936. The Dodgers, though changing cities in 1958, have had the same basic, classic look with only minor derivations for almost as long. You can’t even say the names of these teams without picturing pinstripes, those red Dodgers numbers, both teams’ clean road grays, the Yankees navy and the Dodgers’ Dodger blue.

They looked like a couple of expansion teams last night however, at least sartorially speaking.

As you probably know it’s Players’ Weekend this weekend, and teams all over the league wore either all black or all white with player-chosen nicknames on the back. We’ve had the nicknames for a couple of years now and that’s fine, but the black and white combo is new. It doesn’t look great, frankly. I riffed on that on Twitter yesterday a good bit. But beyond my mere distaste for the ensembles, they present a pretty problematic palette, too.

For one thing the guys in black blend in with the umpires. Quick, look at these infields and tell me who’s playing and who’s officiating:

The white batting helmets look especially bad:

But some guys — like Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers, realized that pine tar makes the white helmets look super special:

There was also a general issue with the white-on-white uniforms in that it’s rather hard to read the names and the numbers on the backs of the jerseys. This was especially true during the Cubs-Nationals game in the afternoon sunlight. You’ll note this as a much bigger problem on Sunday. It’s all rather ironic, of course, that the players have been given the right to put fun, quirky nicknames on the backs of their jerseys but no one can really see them.

The SNY booth was reading many people’s minds last night, noting how much Mad Magazine “Spy vs. Spy” energy this is throwing off:

I’ll also note that if you’re flipping between games or looking at highlights on social media it’s super hard to even tell which team is which — and even what game’s highlights you’re seeing — just by looking which, you know, is sort of the point of having uniforms in the first place.

I’m glad the players have a weekend in which they’re allowed to wear what they want. I just wish they’d wear something better.