Baseball season starts today, one of the best days of the year.
— Rule changes are going to help the game:
Pitch clock chopped 36:00 off of spring training games. Pace of pace should be a lot better this season. Most of the younger players have already played with a pitch clock in the minors; don’t think we’ll notice the pitch clock much, once the season gets rolling.
Banning the shift will help lefty pull hitters be more productive.
Stricter rules on pickoff throws to first base should promote base stealing, especially since the bases are a little bigger. Bases are slightly closer to each other now.
I would recommend betting the over on stolen base props this season.
— New schedule in the big leagues this year; every team plays every other team this year, which means that starts like Trout/Ohtani/Soto, over the course of two years, will play in every big league ballpark. Division rivals will play each other only 13 games this season.
Batters are going to see the same pitchers fewer times, which figures to hurt offense some.
You look back at the old days and hitters faced the same pitchers a ton of times, which helps the hitters. Nowadays, teams don’t like pitchers to face the same hitter three times in a game.
— What will Aaron Judge do for an encore this season? Last year, he hit 62 home runs, had a 1.111 OPS, 111 walks, 133 runs, 131 RBI. Tough act to follow.
— This is Shohei Ohtani’s walk year; what are the Angels going to do with him? Angels are paying him $30M this year, he makes another $40M in endorsements— he will break the bank next winter, but with what team?
Do the Angels trade him this summer? If so, what do they get for him? Halos’ over/under win total is 81.5, but if they trade Ohtani this summer, what happens then?
— Which brings us to the cruddy, cheap teams like the A’s, Pirates; their win totals are really low. Would Pittsburgh trade Bryan Reynolds? Pirates have some good young players, but if they don’t sign Reynolds to a contract extension and trade him away, what happens then?
Last three years, Pirates are 142-242, losing 101-100 games the last two years. Their win total for this year is 67.5, so they’re expected to be slightly better this season.
As for the A’s, their win total is 59.5, so 60-102 would net them the over, which is depressing on several levels. Oakland’s owners are cheap bastards; the franchise made a $29M profit last year despite fielding a God-awful team that went 60-102.
A’s did add some starting pitching this year with Fujinami/Muller; I’ve been an A’s fan since 1965 when I was five years old, so I have this stubborn optimistic streak inside me that says they could be way better than 60-102 this year, but they were over .500 every year form 2018-21, then went in the ashcan last year. Going to be tough to lose less than 90 games this season, but 72-90 would be a pretty big improvement.
Meanwhile, the A’s off-field drama continues; will they move to Las Vegas? Portland? Doubtful that Oakland builds them a new stadium. If I was in Las Vegas, I’d make the cheap bastards put it in writing that they’re going to spend $$$ on payroll if they move to the desert.
— Right now, the Mets’ payroll for this season is $357,083,333; there are 13 major league teams with a payroll of $200M+, but no other team is close to the Mets’ payroll.
Mets have two Hall of Fame pitchers in Scherzer/Verlander, but they’re 38/40 years old. NL East is a tough division; team that finished third in the NL East last year won the NL pennant. Mets lost closer Diaz for the season; who takes his place as the closer?
— Red Sox won the World Series in 2018, then missed the playoffs three of the last four years, finishing last in the AL East last year, 21 games behind; their current payroll is $194,695,000, their over/under for wins this year is 77.5.
— Bruce Bochy will be a Hall of Fame manager, having won three titles with the Giants; now he is managing the Texas Rangers, who signed Jacob deGrom this winter, and have a payroll at a hefty $221,544,827. Semien/Seager/deGrom make a combined $91.5M, just the three of them. Rangers’ over/under win total is 81.5.
— Dodgers won the NL West nine of the last ten years, but it looks like San Diego has a better team this season. Padres haven’t won the NL West since 2006, when their manager was Bruce Bochy; their payroll this year is $248,981,645.
Peter Seidler is the Padres’ owner; he is the grandson of Walter O’Malley, the guy who moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in the 50’s.
Unclear why the Dodgers let Trea Turner walk; are they putting $$$ aside to go all-in with the Ohtani sweepstakes next winter?
— Astros won their second World Series last year; they’ve been in four of last six World Series, but then they fired their general manager? Why?????
Altuve broke his thumb in the World Baseball Classic, is out until June; they lost Verlander. Could this be a year that Texas/Seattle challenges them in the AL West?
Last two years, Mariners went 67-41 in one-run games; is that sustainable?
— Six months of baseball starts today; enjoy it, everyone.