Saturday’s Den: Baseball questions, with spring training underway

— Baseball changed lot of rules this year; going to be interesting to see how that impacts play this season. No more shifts, a play clock to quicken pace of play, bigger bases, a limit to how many times a pitcher can throw to first base. I think they’ve made good rule changes.

— Watching the first spring training games Friday with the pitch clock, TV broadcasts will be changing; lot of fewer replays of action right after it happens, because there is a 0:30 clock until the next pitch is thrown. Lot less small talk between pitches.

— San Diego Padres spent lot of $$$ this year, trying hard to unseat the Dodgers in NL West, but then star 3B Manny Machado said he will opt out of his contract after this season, hoping to make more than the $30M/year he was scheduled to make thru 2028. 

Will that be a distraction for the Padres, or is is just business as usual?

— I’ve mentioned this here before, but my dad grew up in New York City, was.a big Brooklyn Dodger fan. When I was a kid, I learned quickly to never say the name “O’Malley”— Walter O’Malley was the Dodgers’ owner who moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. My dad didn’t like Walter O’Malley, not one bit.

San Diego Padres are now owned by Peter Seidler, who is Walter O’Malley’s grandson. Wish my dad was here to get his reaction to that; chances are he wouldn’t like the Padres very much.

— Highest current projected payrolls for this baseball season:

$300M— New York (NL)
$261M— New York (AL)
$241M— Phillies
$225M— Braves
$212M— Angels
$205M— Padres

— Lowest current projected payrolls for this baseball season:

$40,925,000— A’s
$45,025,000— Orioles
$59,262,500— Pirates
$64,451,211— Rays
$48,624,500— Reds
$75,010,000— Guardians

— Mets’ owner Steve Cohen has raised a lot of eyebrows by also spending a boatload of $$$ to make his team a winning team. Hell, wish he owned the A’s, but now they’re just as despicable as the other New York team. It is no fun rooting for a team that doesn’t try to win.

Cohen loosely inspired the character Bobby Axelrod on the Showtime series Billions.

— The A’s situation will be interesting; will they move to Las Vegas? Portland? Doesn’t sound like they’ll get a new stadium in Oakland. Would be nice if their cheapskate owner would try to win— what a novel idea.

If they move to Las Vegas and are still cheapskates, someone might wind up like Joe Pesci’s character in Casino.

— Tampa Bay Rays also have a stadium issue; will they stay in Florida or move to Montreal? Charlotte? Nashville?

— Once the two stadium issues are resolved, MLB will move ahead with expanding to 32 teams; the expansion fees will recoup $$$ owners lost during the shortened 2020 season. Having 32 big league teams will make scheduling a lot easier.

— Texas Rangers are paying SS Corey Seager/2B Marcus Semien a combined $57M a year, but they went 68-94 last year, so they hired future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy as their new skipper, added Jacob deGrom as a mound ace. We’ll see if that makes Texas a contender; they’ve had six straight losing seasons. 

— Angels have two of the game’s great stars, Trout/Ohtani, but they were 73-89 last year.

Angels haven’t made the playoffs since 2014- their last winning season was 2015, and all that with a payroll of $212M for this year. Pitching is kind of important; the Angels need more of it.

— Speaking of Ohtani, he can be a free agent next winter; going to be quite a bidding war for his services. Would the Angels consider trading him this summer?

— Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs last year; what does he do for an encore? Teammate Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 homers in 2017, but hasn’t ht more than 38 since then.

— Not sure what the Red Sox/Cubs are doing; big market teams that aren’t spending much $$$. Red Sox won World Series in 2018; they’ve made playoffs once since then. Boston finished last in AL East last year, 21 games out of first place.

Cubs missed the playoffs in three of last four seasons; their prospects for this year aren’t great. 

— Detroit Tigers moved their fences in this year, mostly in CF; will that help their hitters/hurt their pitchers?

— Cleveland Guardians won AL Central by 11 games last year; they were only team in the division to finish over .500. Will they be challenged more this year? White Sox let Jose Abreu go, Minnesota re-tooled some but not a lot. Cleveland made playoffs five of last seven years, but has not made it to the World Series since losing Game 7 to the Cubs in 2016.

— Seattle Mariners made playoffs last year for first time since 2001; at this time last year, I had three Seattle hitters on my fantasy team, but their ballpark isn’t conducive to scoring runs— got rid of two of the three, and the third guy got traded to Milwaukee. 

— My baseball TV experience will be better this season; couldn’t watch the World Series last year. The local FOX station was/is at war with DirecTV, so that station was off my TV, so no World Series. I’ve dumped DirecTV for YouTube TV. Looking forward to this season. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.