Tony Clark: Universal DH ‘gaining momentum’ among players

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Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.

One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.

“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.

Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.

Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.

Anyway, enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.

It sounds like Adrián Beltré is mulling retirement

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré is dealing with a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring, marking the third time this season the 39-year-old has dealt with a hamstring issue. The injuries are weighing on Beltré, who sounds like he is mulling retirement.

Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that Beltré said, “It brings the question of is this going to keep happening more often? Is it worth it to fight back? Is it a sign that it’s getting closer to time to say good-bye to you guys?”

In 358 plate appearances this season, Beltré has hit .278/.335/.394 with seven home runs and 41 RBI. His .729 OPS would be his lowest since 2009, when he put up a .683 OPS with the Mariners. Beltré is a free agent after the season and turns 40 years old in April. It wouldn’t be surprising if he decided to call it quits after this season. If he does hang ’em up, Beltré will be — in this writer’s humble opinion — a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he is eligible five years from retirement.