Change Is In The Air… And It’s About Time!

I told you all about 6 months ago that the DH was coming to the NL. As usual, that was met with a lot of skepticism (maybe some mocking as well), and I have to confess that since there was nothing mentioned about it this offseason (until yesterday), I thought that maybe it was a dead deal. Well, it still may not happen THIS YEAR, but it turns out that it is a real thing and whether it happens now or 3 years from now… it’s going to happen.

Let’s just quit pretending that pitchers can hit.Oh, there are exceptions. In 13 seasons as a Dodger, Orel Hershiser had a batting average of .212 with a .240 on-base percentage. And he seemed like Babe Ruth compared to most pitchers at the plate. Don Drysdale was an Urban Legend for his hitting, because in his 14 years as a Dodger his BA was just .186. Look it up! Pitching and batting has been way too specialized for way too long for even the most ardent baseball purest to cling to some misguided, romantic notion of watching a pitcher at the bottom of the batting order. It’s an antiquated rule that makes a very important part of the game look like an embarrassing relic.

NL pitchers OPS has dropped from the .500 and .400 range years ago to the .300’s now… soon to be in the .200’s. It’s a joke. The game has changed and maybe you say it’s flush with cash right now. That can change almost overnight, as the oldtimers like me and you die off and the new generations have no interest in the game. Pitchers who have very little chance of getting on base is a boring aspect of the game… really dumb too!

Rob Manfred wants the DH for the NL and so does the MLBPA, however due to the “Market Correction” this winter whereas MLB teams are not overpaying with stupid, bad, ignorant, long-term contracts, the Union would like to extract a pound of flesh for the fact that the MLB teams are not just signing Blank Checks anymore. MLB and/or the MLBPA also want a few other things – things which the other side may be against:

  • Pitchers must face at least 3 batters before being removed (unless injured);
  • A HARD trade deadline before the All-Star Game;
  • A 20 Second pitch clock;
  • A 26-Man Roster in the regular season;
  • A 28-Man Roster in September; and
  • Reducing the number of mound visits even more.

ESPN’s Jeff Passanoutlines the changes. The MLBPA is not down with all of that so it may not happen this off season. I think we will know in a week or less. I still have hopes it will happen. If I had to predict what will happen, I would say the DH in the NL, the 26 Man Roster, the altered trade deadline and reducing the number of mound visits could still happen for 2019.

Those are really “no brainers.” The Dodgers would benefit immensely with the DH, as Max Muncy and David Freese would fit the bill. Look at this lineup:

AGAINST LHP:

  1. Taylor LF
  2. Seager SS
  3. Turner 3B
  4. Bellinger 1B
  5. Pollock CF
  6. Freese DH
  7. Hernandez 2B
  8. Verdugo RF
  9. Martin/Barnes C

Against RHP:

  1. Pederson LF
  2. Seager SS
  3. Turner 3B
  4. Bellinger 1B
  5. Pollock CF
  6. Muncy DH
  7. Hernandez 2B
  8. Verdugo RF
  9. Martin/Barnes C

That would be outstanding. Why sign Harper? I just do not see it! Let Verdugo play and if he can’t cut RF, then make another move at the trade deadline. That won’t be necessary – he’s the next Tony Gwynn – that’s how you misquote me.

There are even bigger change afoot, changes that I don’t believe will happen but you can read about them inThe Athletic. These changes involve moving the mound back and changes to the strike zone. The NBA talked about raising the baskets, but ultimately didn’t. I believe that moving the mound back is a fundamental move that should never happen.

OTHER STUFF

  • It was amazing to watch the Pacers give LeBron the biggest beat-down of his career – 42 points! Yikes! Without Vic! Tonight we will try and do the same to the Clippers.
  • The Athletichas a nice piece on the Lakers’ Lance Stephenson and his relationship with Indy and the fans relationship with him. He will be back soon enough. My wife wore a Lance Stephenson Lakers’ jersey to the game Tuesday night. She loves Lance! To me he is Yasiel Puig – a loveable knucklehead!

This article has 91 Comments

  1. Excellent list of changes!! Let me add 1 important change not mentioned, the electronic strike zone, more reliable than umpires with no judgement calls.

    1. I would be for an electronic strike zone before any of the other changes. I’m going to be so freaking pissed if they ruin the NL with a DH.

  2. The only problem I see with the DH is that how the catcher becomes the boring part of the lineup. Double DH in the future??

  3. Mark, I appreciate your gloating about the Pacers beating up on the Lakers the other night but I have a question for you…How many NBA championships have your beloved Pacers won. ;0)

    1. I preseume you mean in the NBA, not the ABA.

      So, you are a student of Ancient History, I see.

      I live in the moment!

      😉

  4. I agree with almost all the new possible rules, except that each reliever pitcher must face 3 batters, I believe that at least two batters would be better, that to avoid so many changes in the same inning. There would not be so many “situational pitchers” anymore
    And please, if a manager is going to challenge a play, do not give him time to review it first, just like the ampayer has a fraction of a second to decide if it’s out or safe, that’s the same for managers … Do you want to challenge the play? You have 5 seconds to decide!
    Someone (in other chat) commented that there could be 30 players on the roster, but before each game the manager must decide the 25 available for each game … Maybe yes, maybe not…..

  5. I could get behind all the changes mentioned.
    The one I would not like is putting a runner on 2nd at the start of each extra inning. I would rather the sport went to a point system (2 points for a win, 1 point for a tie) than to screw around with the extra inning setup as it presently is.

    1. Putting a runner at 2nd base sounds like Little League. It is stupid and just making baseball worse for the low intelligent fan.

  6. Equally important, the union’s counterproposal addressed some of its concerns about “competitive integrity,” providing enticements for teams to spend money in an effort to compete and penalizing teams that lose 90-plus games in consecutive seasons with a drop in draft position and a reduction of international-bonus funds.

  7. Another change I recommend. Relief pitchers warm up in the bullpen before coming into a game. Why do they need more when they reach the mound? Give them one or two and get the game started again. There would be a lot less down time.

    1. I’m still trying to figure out why we need these rule changes. What problems are we trying to solve? When they instituted the DH in the first place, they wanted to increase attendance in AL ballparks. Last year, 4 out of the top 5 teams in attendance were National League teams. So what does that tell you about which style of play is more popular?

      I think the biggest problem right now is to discourage teams from tanking and allow more revenue sharing so smaller market teams can at least keep their star players. Remove the draft pick penalties for going over the cap, and increase the tax so that small market teams get more money. Maybe allow for trading of draft picks, or even selling draft picks for money.

      I would be interested in putting some kind of rule to limit the number of pitching changes. Maybe I’m warming up the 3 hitter minimum rule, or something else that would limit the constant changes and the time it takes for a change. I still think a pitcher needs to throw a few warmups on the mound. The bullpen mound isn’t the same and a pitcher should at least get some pitches on the stadium mound to get used to it. Maybe 8 is too many, maybe 4 is too few.

      I just hate to see the game change as a result of rule changes. I think they broke the NFL with all the rule changes they’ve implemented.

      1. Change is often difficult to accept for lots of folks. We get used to our own ideas and new ones come far and few between.

        The speed of the game is an important factor for the fan. The games are already running over 3 hours in many cases. Much too much deliberation on the part of the management, the pitchers, and the challenges.

        Half the league uses the DH. Why did they do that? It is ridiculous. It should be a homogeneously played game allowing each league the same rules. The disparity of pitchers at the plate vs positional players is HUGE. This will definitely make the games more competitive and exciting. Pitchers suck at batting.

        I also disagree that the NFL is broke because of rule changes. Safety is the #1 issue and the NFL is waking up to the fact that many players sustain quality of life injuries that show up in later years. Team sports are never going to be 100% smoothly run. There will always be differences of opinion. Baseball is already a ‘slow’ game to many younger fans, preferring the speed of basketball, football, and soccer. They are exciting to watch. The mix of athleticism and skill is apparent. The 1 on 1 aspect of baseball, pitcher vs batter, appeals to a different type of mentality, a more analytical type, I think, who likes to mull over all the details of geek-ball, metrics, launch angle, etc. While such things may be useful for training players and team discussions, for the viewer, it takes a back seat to getting on base or striking out, depending if your team is pitching or batting.

      2. NBA has the 24 second clock. College has the 30 second clock. NFL has the 25 second clock. MLB has the 3.5 hour game.
        .
        Teams build their bullpens to have a specialist come in for one batter. There would be less platooning if a pitcher had to pitch to three batters. The Dodgers tended to pinch hit in the middle innings only to get bad match ups in the late innings. A Manager would have to decide whether they wanted a good match up with the next hitter knowing there would be a bad match up for the next hitter.

        A team could protect a player like Joc by putting two righty bats behind him so that he would be less likely to face a specialist lefty relief pitcher. It’s not like Bellinger and Muncy hit lefties late in the season last year so it’s not just Joc that would benefit with a three hitter minimum.

    1. Not aimed at you but I hate all projection systems in baseball. I don’t really know what they accomplish other than for betting purposes.

      1. Projection systems are purely to fill column inches in newspapers/magazines in the off season (old model). Now its for clicks and to generate comments/views. Otherwise of little value

  8. Keep the DH the hell out of the N.L. Let Doc and other managers in the N.L. manage games Of course the Union is for it, when it adds another balloted salary to each team…
    That being said, I loved seeing Edgar and Papi do their thing.. We need more personalities like Papi in baseball…
    With the umpiring being the worst I’ve seen in years, I’m not quite ready for change
    (electronic stuff) yet, but I’m damn close..
    For sure we still need to cut the length of games… It would get my old ass to bed earlier..

  9. Bluto, thanks for the link on the last thread. I listened to those 2 dudes discuss our top 10 prospects, and it was very interesting. He’s really high on Ruiz and Lux; gona be fun following them this year.

    As far as the DH coming to the NL, even more reason to sign Harper! There will now be an extra hitter out there. Put Harper in LF for as long a he’s a Dodger, where is avg defense is not as harmful. Let him rake. Let’s finally get our ring!

        1. Bobby Thanks!

          I guess I will just have to listen to the podcast, because I want to hear how excited these guys are about our prospects, like Bluto suggested to do.

          Bluto thanks too!

  10. DH is long overdue in the NL. To the best of my knowledge, the NL is the only place where it exists, anywhere, both professional and amateur. And based on the overall numbers for pitchers batting, having them do so makes little sense at all. Automatic outs (or almost automatic) makes no sense. I can live without seeing Clayton Kershaw hit a game winning HR, as entertaining as it might be.

    I assume that an exception to the 3 hitter minimum would be a situation in which a pitcher who has already faced three hitters could be removed in the 9th inning or later for a pitcher to come in to get the last 1 or 2 outs. If such a pitcher wasn’t able to finish the game by facing less than 3 hitters, I assume that he could not be removed until he did.

    As I’ve noted before, my guess is that a DH would not be implemented in 2019, if only because teams have not had time to plan for it with their personnel moves during this off-season. But since everyone is in the same boat, maybe that won’t be a factor.

  11. Think I read most of the proposed rule changes and find myself liking some and not liking others.
    The two I like best.
    I like expanding the roaster to 26 players, but only if the added player is a position player.
    I think the more relief pitchers a team adds, the more it is diminishing the starting pitcher and giving the manager more reason to remove the starter even faster. Let the teams have 12 pitchers only, 8 starting position players, and five bench players, and the DH.

    A study to lower the pitching mound rather then moving the mound back is something I think might bring more offense to the game, like to see both sides give some thought on that subject.

  12. By the way, if a pitcher comes into a game and gets a DP, does that count as one or two batters faced? And is a triple-play 1 or 3 batters faced?

    1. I’m not sure Doc can operate without the ability to make 5 pitching changes per inning! Perhaps we’ll sign about 4 Pat Vendittes if this rule actually is implemented

  13. Everyone wants to act like the way the Dodgers and mlb operate is great. It’s not and it’s very boring. Hot Stove is frozen stove. Have a trade and free agent deadline like the NBA and make it exciting. Baseball ratings stink. Youngsters aren’t watching the games. Two young stars like Harper and Machado aren’t even signed. That’s like no one wanting Lebron or Kyrie. That would never happen in the NBA. No one wants to see people strike-out. No one wants to hear owners penny pinching. Fans want entertainment and the Dodgers to go all in.

    1. Which is a recipe for disaster…

      The Lakers are winning it all (sarcasm) and the Celts have major issues right about now.

      You are right about the game of baseball. Youngeters are not watching and it needs to be fixed.

      All I can tell you is if you sign a guy to a 10 year/$320 million deal, the odds are it will turn our badly.

  14. Well that’s the end of jtr he’s going to philly just like everyone else dodges have done nothing to get better, very disappointed!! They are nor a better team then last year just cause pollack don’t understand there thinking but everyone else got a lot better and we sank

    1. Well, maybe you were elected Judge and Jury without our knowing it, but I would argue that the Dodgers are the best team in the NL and are better than last year. Many of the so-called “experts” believe that too.

      1. Ok I understand and agree it was just my opinion but truth be told being the best in the NL isn’t going to win u a world series, and that’s the goal! Meant no disrespect by it just saying how it feel! We have no right fielder nor and good catcher or second base or left field and it don’t believe swapping out players everyth er game it’s consistent so how do the players stay hot that way! To me they look a mess

  15. I’m sorry it is not worth taking all the thoughts about moves in the National League to watch Taylor or Kike give someone a day off.

    And let’s not pretend hitters hit when they are not playing on the field too.

    Because there are only a few real DHs in baseball history, that hit well without playing on the field.

    And because of that, we are not going to know if Muncy could hit as a DH.

    It isn’t going to happen because the owners won’t allow it to happen.

    But please stop pretending that most baseball players hit if they are not playing on the field too!

    That is the reason the only DH has been finally elected to the Hall of Fame this year, after 40 plus years.

    And can you imagine how quickly Roberts would be pulling pitchers, if he didn’t have to make that decision about hitting for a pitcher?

    That is exactly what we don’t need to happen!

  16. Well, I guess we didn’t need JTRM after all. Dodgers just checking in to make sure the Marlins didn’t do anything stupid I guess. We have 2 great catching prospects. Some call K-Bear the best catching prospect in baseball. Too bad he won’t be ready for another year and he occupies a spot on the 40. Moving on, nothing to see here. We can all hug on our prospects a little longer. I hope Barnes and Martin are gym / batting cage buddies.

  17. I am still opposed to the DH in the AL – if you want to keep the leagues the same, abolish the DH in both leagues. The players union likes the DL, because players who can hit but not field, and some old guys get to play and get paid.

    I like the 26 man roster. I don’t like the limit to 28 after 9/1.

    The biggest problems in the game have arisen due to the fact that almost all teams have SABR-oriented front offices who all do things similarly – launch angle (everybody HR or K), shifts, 5 inning starting pitchers and 5 relievers every game, extreme defensive shifts, abandonment of the running game, etc.

    If you want people to watch the games, they need more action – fewer Ks and pitching changes, more action on the basepaths and in the field, more rallies. That means that front offices are going to have to build and run teams differently – BUT THEY WON’T.

    The proposals that I have read won’t solve the problem – keeping catchers from talking to pitchers doesn’t solve the problem. A pitch clock won’t solve the problem. The changes to the game wrought by SABR-oriented front offices are the problem but I don’t believe that is going to change any time soon.

    1. Rick

      I agree with everything you said here!

      They are going to have to reward players much more, that can get hits when runners are in scoring position.

      I still don’t think an OPS alone, really shows this important type of production, so it is a little over rated.

    2. Rick

      Although the Astros and the Red Sox, have changed to a more traditional way of playing, in the last couple years.

      And because they are the last two World Series winners, let’s hope more teams will try to emulate those teams, and stop this severe saber metric approach.

  18. Well it appears that the Marlins waiting is about to pay off. The Phillies are going to send their #1 prospect, RHP Sixto Sanchez, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and a third prospect still to be agreed upon. I do not understand Philadelphia. It is not like Jorge Alfaro is a bad catcher. Offensively Alfaro hit .262/.324/.407/.731. Realmuto has a better arm, but Alfaro is a significantly better pitch framer than is JTR. Per Baseball Prospectus catcher stats, Alfaro is #5 in FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average), while JTR is #21. Alfaro is rated #5 pitch framer, while JTR is #71. So is the difference in the two worth the Phillies #1 prospect, #6 MLB RHP prospect, and #21 overall MLB prospect, plus another? For those who do not take much stock in prospects, i am guessing that it is. I have not yet had a chance to read what Phillies fans may be saying.

    1. Maybe Philly feels by getting Realmuto, it’ll show Harper and or Machado that they are serious about winning now.

      Maybe this entices Harper or Machado to sign in Philly ?

        1. Alfaro
          262/324/407 in 377 PA’s last year with the Phillies

          by comparison Realmuto
          277/340/484 in 531 PA’s

          Realmuto is an upgrade, but Alfaro is not chopped liver

      1. Bobby, showing Harper and Machado that Philly wants to win now is the best reason I have heard for this trade. You may be onto something with that. Good observation.

    2. AC

      You should listen to that Baseball America podcast that Bluto suggested us to listen to, on yesterday’s thread.

      I think you will hear that your observation was not a one time thing.

    3. Philly isn’t smart. Yet another reason for the Dodgers to walk away from an overpay for Realmuto. Barnes and Martin are both better framers, and that has a measurable impact in a pitching staff’s effectiveness. JTR can hit and throw runners out, but those are comparatively low on the list of priorities with respect to catchers in today’s baseball. For the framer skeptics and baseball Luddites, with Statcast we can now measure down to the pitch just how more effective a good framer can be for a team – how many runs they save over the course of a season – relative to other catchers.

    1. From an 11/16/18 story on NBC Sports

      Phillies owner John Middleton recently reiterated what he’s been saying for years: The Phillies will spend aggressively this offseason.
      This time, he was a bit more colorful about it.
      “We’re going into this expecting to spend money,” Middleton told USA Today at the owners meetings this week. “And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.
      “We just prefer not to be completely stupid.”

      Looks like we are at the “little bit stupid” stage. Let’s see if they move on to the “completely stupid” stage.

  19. I am generally comfortable with change and the concept of ready, fire, aim. Make some changes, review/test, fix.

    The last 3 minutes of a football game or basketball game can last 10 times longer than the first 20 minutes of the game. There are innings in baseball that go on forever. Most of the time it is due to a pitcher that can’t throw strikes and walks hitters or gives up hit after making 8 pitches to one hitter but add pitching changes and you can only hope it is your team hitting otherwise it’s a real snooze.
    .
    Maybe a pitcher has to make 15 pitches in any particular inning before he can be taken out.

    1. Not being able to put a pitch in play, is one of the biggest reasons that baseball has become so boring at times.

      Pitching is a defensive position, and you don’t expect the action to come from the defense.

      Defense is to neutralize the offense.

      But hitters today are so one dimensional and because of that, they make it to easy for a pitcher, and the defense behind the pitcher, like Rick alluded too.

  20. Did the Lakers get played by New Orleans? I’ve read that NO teased the Lakers with Davis to get even for James’ tampering. If so, it was sweet revenge. There are now 4 first round draft picks on the Lakers, the core of the team, that know they were going to be traded to make James happy.

    1. 100% we did. Rachel Nichols asked Brian Windhorst that very same thing, and he said yes. NO had no intention of ever making this deal, and they strung us along for what they perceived as tampering between Davis and Klutch Sports/Rich Paul/Lebron etc.

      F em. But thank god they turned down our moronic overpay.

    1. Very sad. One of the very first eventual baseball legends that I grew up watching and listening to Vinny about.

    2. so sad
      still remember the 1966 WS with the Robinson’s – Frank and Brooks
      I was a young kid and only heard it on radio
      helped to hook me on baseball

      1. I remember that WS very well. Brooks Robinson was my longtime favorite non- Dodger (along with Roberto Clemente), and Jim Palmer became my favorite non Dodger pitcher. Can you believe Brooks was an 18 time AS.
        .
        Unfortunately that WS was the swan song for #32.

      2. SoCalGrinch

        I was very young too, but my teacher played it on a TV in our room.

        I met Frank when he was on the Angels, and he was a very personable guy.

        I believe he was the first player to win a MVP in the American League, and in the National League.

  21. I grew up watching him in Cincy when I was a kid. I hoped he would re-capture the magic when he came to LA, but no… RIP , Frank!

  22. AC – My Pop used to work the Hollywood Park parking lots.. Every time Brooks would come to town, there he’d be in Lot M, to place a few bets.. He loved his ponies My Pop would get him close to the gates… He would get us tix for his games… He was scary good at 3B, a vacuum out there… That was a helluva team, the O’s.
    I eventually worked there myself on the weekends… I was told up front, no matter what Hot? Tips you got, keep your paycheck because this is the only place windows clean people…

  23. Alfaro (the catcher that the Fish got for Realmuto) isn’t all that good:
    Per MLB Trade Rumors:
    “Alfaro hit .262/.324/.407 with 10 homers in 377 PAs last season, but there’s reason to doubt his ability to replicate that output. Specifically, Alfaro whiffed in 36.6 percent of his plate appearances and benefited from an eye-popping (and clearly unsustainable) .406 average on balls in play. The 25-year-old will need to improve on his contact skills if he’s to carve out a career as a regular, but the tools he possesses are undeniably enticing — particularly for a rebuilding club like Miami.”

  24. The only one of these changes that is better for the game is limiting Sept rosters. Nothing like destroying strategy to increase the fan base by zero.
    ~
    The Lakers have no idea what they’re doing.

      1. What? I’m still angry about not re-signing Randle. James is absolutely awesome but I am ready to trade him if the return was likely awesome. Magic? Not impressed.

        1. This wasn’t supposed to be about this season. They were the #4 seed and 2 games out when the entire team got hurt. They started playing worse when Lebron got hurt but really started sucking when Ball got hurt vs OKC. Now a panic trying to salvage this season is dumb. Trade Svi and a draft pick for Bullock fine, but giving away a 21 year old quality center is dumb. Offering up your entire roster for Davis looked pathetic.

      2. I don’t want to steer this thread away from the OP, but trading Zubac seems like a very dumb move to me. I’ve watched this young guy carefully, especially when they are playing my Warriors, and I see a highly skilled, athletic, big man whose BBIQ is very high and has a motor to be a future starter for most teams. He plays effortlessly and is a terrific paint player. I worried about him when he went up against a depleted Warrior front court. Of course, I’ll take Cousins, in general, but Zubac has a bright future.

    1. I am not a fan of Magic Johnson in a basketball management capacity… and I am being very kind. I think the Lakers are ill-conceived from Jump. LeBron will be 35 next year and I think Father Time will start imposing his will on him. Time will tell, but I do think the Lakers are pathetic.

      However, if 95-100 wins is pathetic, then I love the Pathetic Dodgers. The best team in the NL!

    2. Martin is AAA Organizational depth… nothing more – every organization signs a number of these guys. However, the Dodgers keep looking for the next Max Muncy or Chris Taylor. Will there be one in 2019?

  25. Not predicting anything, because quite frankly, I don’t have a clue what the Dodgers have planned going forward. But I wonder if any of the players (prospects and/or MLB players) that might have been included in a Realmuto deal will now figure in a deal for Kluber and/or others.

  26. One of the other rule changes was with the teams use of the Injured PLayer and shuffling pitchers in and out for rest I think

  27. All this talk about the lengths of games?

    MLB= approximately 3:05
    NFL= approximately 3:12

    Why no discussions about the NFL?

      1. I thought it was a very good response (and very funny) but I’m almost 100% sure that we all understood what Illinios is referring to what he said about the NFL …
        Apparently the games in the NFL last longer, but only talk about shortening them in the MLB, what is the average duration of games in the NBA? Other sports, in fact all, have times out …..

    1. The problem with watching NFL games is the amount of advertising that takes up so much time each broadcast. I can’t sit through this kind of shyte so I’ve resorted to downloading finished games from torrent sites. No commercials. I just have to be a bit patient to see the game some hours after it is actually played. Problem solved. But baseball is too boring to have to sit through more than 3 hours unless you are at the park, and even then……..

  28. Mark, I am mostly fine with the Dodgers as well, but no doubt there are areas that could do with some tinkering, as is the case with all teams. Adding an arm like Kluber would clearly be a big boost, and so could another bat. But I wasn’t speaking specifically of Kluber, which is why I added “and/or others”.

    More specifically I was suggesting that not doing a deal for Realmuto means that the Dodgers still have considerable player capital with which to pull off a major deal, be it for Kluber or anyone else.

    1. I feel pretty much the same way, BD. What’s the problem with the Dodgers? Only what goes on in the fans minds, but these fans are usually unhappy in general.

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