March 15, 2019
The action is still off the field more than on it
So we are a month into Spring Training and have only two weeks to go until Opening Day (five days if you count the OAK v. SEA games in Japan March 20-21). All thirty teams will be in action on March 28 for the earliest domestic openers in MLB history. The schedule was moved up last year to create more off days during the year for the players. That seems appropriate to note as this year the most interesting news around MLB is what is happening off the field rather than on it.
I noted in my opening 2019 post on March 1 that the biggest news is where will all the veterans be playing, if they are playing at all. Well, Opening Day is almost upon us and a couple dozen players remain unsigned, including Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel and Gio Gonzalez. Today that is still a story, and perhaps even more confounding since both LAD and NYY have ailing aces. Kershaw may be ready for Opening Day, but it will be dicey since he has been held out almost all of Spring Training. Luis Severino is definitely out for the month of April and perhaps longer. Couldn’t one of the two richest franchises take a financial risk when the team’s performance is at stake? Apparently even the traditionally big spenders are sticking with the new attitude towards over-30 veterans and long-term contracts.
And, as I wrote in my end-of-year post on 12/31,
the real question this year is whether MLB and the MLBPA understand the crash course they are on. And the answer is apparently, “yes.” In another surprise off-field move, the league and players announced an agreement on significant rules changes for 2019 and 2020, and their agreement to open CBA negotations over 2 years early!
Apparently Mr. Manfred and Mr. Clark read our site and take our advice. Good for them, and Good Luck to them. The initial reviews from expert analysts were not favorable, at least as to the rules changes effecting strategy for play on the field.
My guess is that some of these may either get dropped even before being tried or abandoned shortly after implementation. The real news to me is that the parties see that they must be pro-active in dealing with the serious issues between them. The fact that MLB, led by Commissioner Manfred, seem bent on changing the game in order to appeal to younger fans is worrisome, but we have to believe that it is well-intended. And some of the changes off the field are clearly aimed at the fans, such as the changes to All-Star voting. The redo at the end of the voting should create a lot of fan involvement and some exciting election day coverage. We will need some more time to study the impact of the on-field changes.
But, as we count down the days to Opening Day, let’s be thankful that we have the attention of the stewards of the game, both on and off the field.
March 1, 2019
It’s March – do you know where your favorite players are playing?
A free agent veteran wondering where he is going to be playing this year….
Hello, B.A.B.E.S. veterans, and perhaps some rookies, as well. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Spring Training 2019 is underway. I know this because I am listening to the A’s v. Rockies on the MLB At Bat app (the best $20 anyone can ever spend). It is awesome to have live baseball to listen to again and not have to listen to non-stop speculation about where Bryce Harper is going to be playing.
You may have heard that Harper agreed to a new 13-year contract with the Phillies. In addition to staying within the NL East, Harper gets to continue wearing red.
The picture above is not the first shot of Harper in PHI’s spring training camp in Clearwater, FL. It was actually taken in 2015 at the Nationals’ old Space Coast Stadium home in Melbourne. Harper struck out in that at bat, but he did go on to have an MVP season – one that barely justifies his $330 million contract. But more about that later.
For now my only reaction to his new deal is to confess that my first prediction for 2019 has already been proven incorrect. Back in November I expressed my belief that NYY was sure to sign Harper to play first base and set HR records with the short right field fence in Yankee Stadium. Well, if you need any further evidence that there is a new Steinbrenner in charge in the Bronx, and a new fiscal approach to team management everywhere in MLB, look no further than the fact that the Yankees did not sign either of the two top free agents this year. No, the Padres and the Phillies took those honors. But more about that later, also.
The question for now, as we begin to consider our picks for 2019, is where will the rest of the dozens of free agents sign, if at all? I always like to wait until the end of spring training to make my selections, not because I think spring performance is particularly relevant but because I am concerned about injuries. Now I have to add the variable of a significant free agent signing – Dallas Keuchel anyone? Or perhaps one or more of these dozens of available veterans?
Whether you like to wait like I do, or have already made your picks, make a note that Opening Day, and the deadline for submitting your picks, is now only four weeks away, March 28.
While you ponder your 2019 selections, you may want to revisit yours and others’ 2018 approach, particularly the Rocky winner Gus Pompa who proved that the term “analysis by paralysis” is not always a criticism.