Shortly after Robert Murray of MLBDailyRumors.com reporting that pitch clocks will be added to all Double- and Triple-A stadiums prior to Opening Day, it became the hot topic of the baseball Internet. People have many varying opinions on the topic. However, pitch clocks are not good for the game of baseball, no matter what people say otherwise.
Baseball is a marathon, not a race. There is no clock in baseball and should never be no clock in baseball. While this is a way to shorten the games, the effects of the pitch clock could ruin the great part about baseball. First, play-by-play announcers won't be able to share as many stories or thoughts about the game at hand when the pitcher only has 20 seconds to throw his next pitch. Second, the game will not have the same intensity feel to it. In the ninth, the closer comes in and stares down the hitter for five or six seconds, with the fans screaming and yelling. There is nothing in sports like that.
While the pitch clock has not been instituted into the big league level quite yet, the fact that it was added to the minors could just be a stepping stone to an eventual pitch clock in the Major Leagues. According to Sports Illustrated, while the pitch clock was being tested in the Arizona Fall League, one game took only two hours and fourteen minutes. An average MLB game took three hours and eight minutes to complete this last year.
I do not know if the pitch clock, or other pace of play rules, will help the shortening attention span of the future generations. I'm not going to lie; baseball is a slow-moving sport. However, will the pitch clock or any other pace of play rules really engage more of the younger generation? Will these rules really convince them to choose to watch baseball? I don't know. I would not think so.
I'm not a hardcore baseball traditionalist. That is, I use and love Sabermetrics, am happy about expanded replay, and would vote for the "alleged" PED users into the Hall of Fame (and Pete Rose). However, the pitch clock is crossing the line. Some things in baseball just cannot be changed, or else it would not be baseball anymore. The pitch clock is a prime example of breaking the unwritten rule, "There is no clock in baseball."
As the pitch clock makes its way into the ever-changing sport of baseball, I am not a fan. It's good that it is unlikely to be implemented into the bigs this season, but if all goes "well" in the minors, could we be seeing it used in MLB Spring Training games and eventually MLB regular season games? I think so. That is not good for baseball and would be changing the sport from the way it has been for over 100 years.
Column: The Red Sox are the best fit for James Shields, so why are they not making a move to sign him?
It's January 14 and I'm sitting here at my desk enjoying a snow day for 0.3" of snow. While that's beside the point, baseball is not too far away, and while children around my area are still getting snow days, pitchers and catchers will report in just over a month. Two of the three best free agents, Max Scherzer and James Shields, are still unsigned. Shields' market seems to be picking up ever so slightly. Perhaps an end to the sweepstakes is near.
That brings me to my point. The Boston Red Sox need to sign James Shields. He is the answer to their prayers for contention, shown earlier in the offseason with the signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to multi-million dollar deals. The Sox' rotation was in shambles at that point. After signing both Sandoval and Ramirez, the Red Sox had three "viable" starting pitchers: Joe Kelly, Clay Buchholz, and Brandon Workman.
After losing to the Cubs in the race for Jon Lester, the Red Sox went out and made a few moves to try to fix up their rotation issues, agreeing to terms with Justin Masterson on a one-year, $2 million deal, and acquiring Wade Miley and Rick Porcello from the Diamondbacks and Tigers, respectively.
Boston's rotation does not have a true No. 1 starter in it, but it looks pretty solid across the board. Buchholz is a two-time All-Star, Porcello is coming off a career year, Kelly posted a 2.69 ERA in 2013, Masterson is another All-Star, and Miley finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2012.
However, the Red Sox' rotation can also be looked at this way: Buchholz is coming off a season with an ERA over five, Porcello was a below-average starter from 2009 to 2013, Kelly only pitched 96 average big league innings last season, Masterson was horrendous, and Miley has been only average in about 400 innings since the great rookie campaign.
That's where James Shields comes in. Shields can solidify any issues that could arise with the Red Sox' rotation, and would likely push Joe Kelly to the bullpen, where he has posted better career numbers anyway. Shields would also give the Red Sox an estimated extra three wins (per fWAR), which could be the difference between 84-87 wins and 87-90 wins. According to FanGraphs, the Red Sox are projected to win the AL East, but by a slim margin, with every team, except the Orioles, projected to win 80 games.
Yes, projections are just that, projections. However, they do make a point. That is, the AL East has no clear favorite. Shields could be the difference between winning the division or getting a Wild Card spot for Boston. If the Red Sox are truly set on contending next year, signing James Shields should be a no-brainer for them. Red Sox owner John Henry was quoted as saying that the Red Sox would be willing to "blow through" the luxury tax for one year to sign Jon Lester, so why not do the same with Shields?
In terms of payroll, the Red Sox, with arbitration and pre-arbitration projections by MLBTradeRumors.com, currently have a payroll around $176.8 million. In terms of guaranteed contracts only, the Red Sox have $86.6 million guaranteed for 2016, $78.4 million for 2017, and $70.1 million for 2018. Adding on Shields at about an average of $20 million a year would put them over the luxury tax this year, but they could stay under for the years to come.
As the snow continues to fall (not really), the Red Sox' front office better be heating up. One way they could they could heat up is by signing James Shields.
The Phillies' offseason can be summed up in one word, "future." They have clearly shown that they want to rebuild their team for the future, trading Marlon Byrd, Jimmy Rollins, and Antonio Bastardo all for prospects as they look to begin their plans for their next contending team.
Cole Hamels, a 31-year-old lefty from San Diego, is by far the Phillies best trade piece. He posted a 2.46 ERA last season in 204 2/3 innings pitched, and if he had racked up more wins, he could have gotten more serious Cy Young award contention. Considering Hamels is still relatively young and is signed to a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year, he is coveted by many teams.
The Phillies were thought to have wanted to unload Hamels at some point this offseason and at points it seemed like something could be in the works. November and December have come and gone, and Hamels is still in a Phillies uniform. Nevertheless, from a team standpoint, Hamels should still be in a Phillies uniform by July, even if the demand is high.
First, there is a lot of pitching already on the market. David Price, Max Scherzer, and James Shields are other pitchers that are either available through trade or through signing. While it will take a lot to get any of the three of them, there are other options on the table for teams to pursue. Hamels is owed $100 million guaranteed over the next four years, which would be in the range of Shields' deal to begin with. It would also take a lot of prospects to get back in return. That is not something teams want.
The Phillies asking price is still very high for Hamels, according to reports. It could take multiple top prospects and one or two low-level prospects as well. The Phillies likely will not be able to get this type of deal now in the offseason.
Look at it this way; Jeff Samardzija was traded to the Oakland Athletics this past July (along with Jason Hammel) for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily. Then, this offseason, Samardzija was dealt to the White Sox (with Michael Ynoa) for Rangel Ravelo, Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien. The Athletics got nobody even in the realm of Russell in dealing him this offseason.
This is a perfect representation showing how teams are more desperate at the trade deadline. A contending team is willing to give up more prospects in order to "get them over the hump." In the offseason, every team is 0-0, and has a fresh start. There is an idea of who could be contending next season, but nothing is set in stone until it happens.
If the Phillies want their rebuilding to take full flight, they need to hold on to a veteran and keep Cole Hamels in 2015. If everything goes as planned, his value will be higher at the trade deadline than it is now. There will be less pitching on the market, plus it is rare that a team can find a pitcher with three years of control at the deadline. The Phillies need to deal Cole Hamels in July.