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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

2020 Was Supposed to Be the Dodgers’ Year. Could It Still Be?

No team stands to lose more from the loss or truncation of the 2020 Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus than the Dodgers. They may have traded three prospects to Boston for few or no games from Mookie Betts and his $27 million salary. As the team that draws half a million more fans than any other franchise, they are losing the most gate revenue. As the deepest team in baseball, their depth may be less valuable in a shorter season. And as the clear favorites in the National League West, their road to the postseason is more difficult as more games come off the schedule.

The smaller the sample size, the less likely the better team wins. In his four years as Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts has guided Los Angeles to a division championship every year. But if those four seasons were truncated at 60 games, the Dodgers would have won only once, last year. The Diamondbacks, Rockies and Giants each took a turn in first place after 60 games.

“I absolutely agree from that side of things,” Roberts said. “When you shorten the season, less variables come into play. The smaller the sample size the more it brings other teams into play, which is great. But I do think when and if we start the season the expanded rosters will ultimately help our club.”

In 1981, following a two-month strike, players were given just nine days to prepare for the resumption of the season in August. Twenty-five-man rosters were not expanded. Labor stoppages in 1990 and 1995 led to two and three added roster spots, respectively, following 21 and 25 days of training.

A consideration of the effects of current conditions on a particular team.

QLE Posted: April 22, 2020 at 12:56 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, dodgers, verducci

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Need for Speed: MLB’s Hardest Throwers Are Paying a High Price

First Luis Severino broke. Then Chris Sale. Now Noah Syndergaard. When it comes to pitching health, these are hard times for hard throwers.

All three were All-Star pitchers in 2018. All three were among the 20 hardest-throwing starting pitchers in the majors that year. Severino and Syndergaard ranked 1-2. Sale just made it inside the top 20, as did Michael Fulmer, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Shohei Ohtani, if he had lasted long enough to qualify.

All of them had Tommy John surgery in the past 17 months to repair a torn elbow ligament. The breakdown rate is staggering: one-third of the 21 hardest-throwing starters blew out in less than a year and a half.

After the latest blowout, the one to Syndergaard, it’s time to ask some serious questions about the connection between velocity and health.

 

 

QLE Posted: April 11, 2020 at 12:44 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: arm injuries, pitchers, tommy john surgery, velocity, verducci

Thursday, April 02, 2020

MLB Can’t Afford to Come Back Too Soon

The efforts of Nippon Pro Baseball to resume playing are underscoring concerns of Major League Baseball officials about the difficulty of a potential return in the wake of the pandemic.

Teams in Japan began playing practice games in empty ballparks on March 20 with an Opening Day target of April 24. Within a week, three Hanshin Tigers players tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the team to order players and staff to self-quarantine.

After the announcement, NPB secretary general Atsushi Ihara told reporters regarding the proposed April 24 Opening Day, “We do not plan to reconsider the date because of this.” But last night Sports Nippon in Japan reported that officials are now considering a later start.

The sequence of events in Japan reminded MLB officials of the challenges associated with any potential return to the field. While MLB is considering many proposals of what a 2020 season might look like—all are speculation with no start date in sight—MLB has little to no appetite for playing games in empty stadiums or for a postseason that extends into December, according to a league source.

 

QLE Posted: April 02, 2020 at 01:42 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, verducci

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

This Season Promised to Be Mike Trout’s Greatest. Now It May Never Come

Every baseball season at its start is a blue Tiffany box tied with white satin ribbon in the palm of your hand. Something special will be revealed, guaranteed. The mysteries are in only the particulars and magnitude of its bejeweled splendor.

We could have made one easy guess about this season. It promised to be the greatest season of the greatest player of this generation, Mike Trout.

Instead, the coronavirus pandemic has stolen the probability of such a gift—the gift of one full season of peak Trout. It is one of a million small consequences that today mean nothing against the global threat to human life. But within the baseball community it is a consequence that will have aesthetic and historical import.

Trout turns 29 on Aug. 7. The Angels’ center fielder is coming off a season in which he set career highs for home runs (45) and slugging (.645), even though he missed the final three weeks of the season with a foot injury that had been bothering him for at least the month prior. He has missed an average of 33 games per year over the past three seasons. He likely will miss many more than that this year, making it four straight years in the prime of his career that Trout will not play more than 140 games. If we see Major League Baseball again this summer, we should be surprised and grateful.

 

 

QLE Posted: April 01, 2020 at 01:06 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: mike trout, verducci

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Hoping for a Better Baseball Future

Remember when the whole world was angry at the Houston Astros for stealing signs? They wanted them to give back their World Series title, their championship rings, their postseason money.

One day in spring training, I watched the Astros play in a half-empty ballpark against the Marlins on what was senior day, sponsored by a local hospital. Even then, the fans were all over José Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer: profanity, snark, outrage. It seemed to me this was a mini dress rehearsal for what the Astros would face in the regular season.

That gantlet was scheduled to begin on Thursday. First in Oakland against the A’s and whistleblower Mike Fiers. Then in Anaheim against the Angels, where thousands of angry Dodgers fans had bought tickets. By June 3, the sideshow would have gone through Texas, Boston and New York, each place trying to outdo the last in terms of public outrage–or just trying to do something that goes viral.

And then, the pandemic happened.

 

QLE Posted: March 24, 2020 at 12:47 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, dirty rotten cheaters, verducci

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Baseball’s Fight to Reclaim Its Soul

The enormous fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal has pushed baseball into a moment of crisis. The root cause of the scandal is embedded in the nine-page report by commissioner Rob Manfred: technocrats gaining power in how the game is played.

Amid all the outrage and the reviews of press conferences and interviews as if they were performance art, union chief Tony Clark issued the most important words in a statement last week that should have received more attention:

“How the parties handle the next several weeks will significantly affect what our game looks like for the next several decades. The opportunity is now to forge a new path forward.”

Manfred has vowed to reduce the live video available in and around clubhouses. It’s a start toward winning back trust. “That’s a joint obligation,” Manfred said. “It’s something we have to do and something the players have to us help us do.”

*It suddenly dawns on QLE that he’s heard this argument before- and that he’s figured out who Larvell Blanks’ biggest fan really is…..*

 

QLE Posted: March 01, 2020 at 12:45 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: soul, technocracy, the sky is falling, verducci

 

 

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