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SnakePit Round Table: A change is gonna come...

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MLB announced rule changes for this year, and floated the idea of post-season changes as well. What does the SnakePit think?

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Rule changes for the 2020 season were announced by MLB. What do you think?

Makakilo: The rule change that seems most contentious was reducing the time to challenge a play from 30 to 20 seconds.

  • Although I do not know whether all videos will be on an 8 second delay to eliminate the possibility of sign stealing; if videos are on delay then time-to-review-video will be reduced from 30 to 12 seconds.
  • Sometimes, as a fan I enjoy making my own decision on a close play. Now my enjoyment will be reduced by 10 seconds (except if a challenge happens).

Michael: Rob Manfred is out of touch with the public and the problems that plague his sport. Both Trevor Bauer and Gary Sheffield Jr. have both stated that baseball’s problem is more about the sports’ inability to market their game than the game itself. I don’t like the idea of the three batter minimum that baseball is imposing more because I’m worried about their next “fix” for the game.

Jack: I like the September roster limits being reduced to 28. The previous system was too distorting at the most important time of the year.

James: Manfred continues to make changes to the game to appeal to an audience not inclined to watch the sport, regardless of what he does. Furthermore, he is doing it at the expense of those who already do watch the game. I’m not a huge fan of the 28-man roster in September, but I can at least understand the point of that rule. With rosters being limited the way they are now, I just don’t see the point of a three batter minimum for relievers. Without the massive 40-man roster in September, managers are going to have a very limited number of pitchers to choose from for creating favorable match-ups. If a manager wants to burn one of his arms to face only one batter, so be it.

Turambar: Gotta agree with my compadres above: stop tweaking the game and start marketing it better. Honestly, has MLB just given up on making their product “seem” cool? Why are they so concerned on keeping thier fan base versus expanding it?

Steven: I actually like the new rules, especially expanding the rosters and a 3 batter minimum. I would hardly fault Manfred for not “marketing the game correctly”, he’s made the owners famously rich even with declining interest in the sport. Baseball will always be a hard sale, with 3 hour games and limited action, it’s boring in a world with instant entertainment at your fingertips.

How about the proposal to change the post-season format?

Makakilo: Although I don’t like the idea that the Dodgers might be treated to a bye in the first round, I like the new proposal for three reasons:

  • Eliminates the 1-game wild-card series (reaching playoffs means more when it’s at least 2 games).
  • Less teams have an incentive to “tank” because more playoffs berths.
  • Adds some first-round strategic decisions in picking which wild-card team to play.

Michael: Baseball does not need to add more teams to the postseason. If they want to make tweaks to the current system, perhaps turning the Wild Card into a three-game series because of the flukey nature of a 1-game playoff. The whole proposal is a giant cash grab attempt by MLB.

Jack: It just seems too gimmicky and ill thought out. This proposal is rife with unintended negative consequences. I think the negative response has been so overwhelming, hopefully this idea will be quickly shelved.

James: I sometimes wonder if Manfred even looks at these ideas that cross his desk before he throws them out into the world. This is not how baseball is going to fix its image problems and attract more viewers to the game. Turning the WC round into a best of three, maybe even having those three games scheduled to be played in only two days, that would be something useful. But as for the rest of the junk, the number of things that could and will go wrong just makes me wonder what the hell these people are thinking about - besides grabbing all the piles of money.

Turambar: I may be one of the few among the Brute Squad that actually enjoys this idea. Essentially I like the idea of eliminating the 1gams wild card, which was always in my eyes just a play-in game anyways. Also allowing more teams in ensures that Sept baseball will be far more important; not just for teams on the periphery, but especially for top squads who may really need that bye. About the only really gimmicky thing for me is the “selection night” where the second seeds “pick” their opponents. Bleh

Steven: I like it. It turns an already confusing mess into an even bigger one, with more teams able to make the World Series. On the other hand, more playoff teams mean more competition, which leads to more teams “going for it”, and hopefully more fans attending games. If basketball and hockey can have 8 team playoffs in each conference, why can’t baseball?

What was your reaction to the Astros “apology”?

Makakilo: First impression: It felt false, fumbling, and was full of pieces that did not fit. Deeper thought: A real apology would be a) I feel regretful for my mistake, b) my bad actions hurt the game of baseball, other teams especially their pitchers’ careers, and baseball fans, and c) although I can’t undo the damage I will give my world series bonus to charity, I will actively play well within the rules to avoid gray areas, and I will work hard over the next few years to earn the trust and respect of fans and other teams.

Michael: I agree with Matt Antonelli, it reads as “Sorry, Not Sorry”. I do feel bad for Dusty Baker, who will be dragged into this despite the fact that he was managing the Nationals when this allegedly happened.

Jack: There was no apology, and no sincerity. They have been aided and abetted by MLB’s coverup. Meanwhile the Red Sox are STILL under investigation for using video replay to illegally steal signs in 2018. This after they were called out for using Smartwatch to steal signs in 2017. Despite all that already we are seeing leaks of another slap on the wrist likely. MLB desperately wants this all to go away, but it’s not going to because they don’t have the courage to expose the FULL EXTENT of the cheating that has been going on for years from multiple organizations.

Some might have misconstrued my calling out MLB for a coverup and pointing out that this issue, in varying degrees and using various methods has existed for years as some kind of absolvence of the Astros for their cheating. That simply isn’t true. I just don’t believe that singular focus on the Astros truly addresses the issue.

James: There was an apology in there? If there was, I sure didn’t hear one. Seriously, whoever is heading up Houston’s PR department and putting together these carefully constructed written statements needs to be fired. They have failed miserably at their job for over a year now.

Turambar: Pathetic. I dare anyone to tell me that whole press conference wasn’t the biggest waste of time in the history of the world. Go ahead. I’m waiting. Hell, about the only genuine thing that came out of that apology was that I now unapologetically hate the Astros.

Steven: About as bad as it could’ve turned out. Blaming others, insincere apologies and more, they got caught and their parents are making them apologize. I hope retaliation is fierce in 2020.

Which promotional item from the 2020 schedule do you most want?

Makakilo: It’s a difficult choice between Christian “Sky” Walker bobblehead and MadBum bobblehead. I flipped a coin; May the Christian “Sky” Walker force be with you!

Michael: If I’m lucky, I get both of the Marte bobbleheads

Jack: Either the father’s day Hawaiian shirt, or the clear drawstring bag. I am so cool.

James: Uhm… I guess, maybe the Skywalker bobblehead.

Turambar: Tribal jersey for sure. Follows soon thereafter by adding Brute Squad to the back.

Steven: Give me a Beanie Baby or give me nothing at all.

How do you see the bullpen shaking down this spring?

Michael: Kelly starts the year in the bullpen, Archie is the closer. The other six spots are open although the favorites to land spots are Kevin Ginkel, Yoan Lopez, Junior Guerra, Alex Young, Hector Rondon, and Andrew Chafin. Kelly can’t be optioned per contract, Chafin and Rondon can refuse an optional assignment with 5+ years of service time, and Guerra is out of options. Ginkel was the team’s most consistent reliever in August/September as the bridge to Archie Bradley so I don’t envision him going anywhere. Lopez and Young could be possibilities to option during the season although I don’t think Young will be sent to AAA because he’s left-handed and is one of the 10 best pitchers in the organization period.

The performances of Young, Rondon, Ginkel, and Lopez will be equally as critical to the team’s success as Archie Bradley because you need guys to get him the lead for him to lead the league in saves. During the season, we’ll likely see other 40 man guys such as Takahashi, Payamps, Clarke, Widener, and Emilio Vargas contribute in the bullpen in some capacity.

Makakilo: First assumption: Leake misses opening day while he rehabs his wrist, meaning that Merrill Kelly will be in the rotation.

Second assumption: In spring training, Stefan Crichton will pitch very well. On opening day, he will be in the bullpen. In 2020, his pitching will be better than 2019, which was not bad!

The bullpen on opening day: Archie Bradley, Hector Rondon, Andrew Chafin, Junior Guerra, Yoan Lopez, Keven Ginkel, Stefan Crichton, and TBD. The last spot will likely be filled by one of Taylor Clarke, Jon Duplantier, or Alex Young.

Jack: Rondon is the linchpin. He has to be able to get the lead to Archie. If he has a great year, we’ll have a good bullpen. If he falters, it could be a struggle. I think our bullpen is set up a lot better than most to deal with the three batter minimum.

James: Barring injury, Bradley, Rondon, Guerra, Chafin and Kelly are locks. Young is a second lefty. That leaves two spots. I think they wind up going to Ginkel and Lopez, although I would not be at all surprised if one of those two started the year in AAA and that Crichton made the cut.He’s out of options, so if they intend to keep hima around, he’ll need to make that cut.

Steven: Leake starts hurt, so Gallen steps in the rotation. Archie is closer, Rondon set-up/fire putter outer, with Alex Young as long relief. Everyone else (Guerra, Chafin, Kelly, Ginkel and Lopez) fills in where necessary and there’s your 8 man bullpen.

What movie never should be remade?

Jack: Groundhog Day. It would be repetitive.

Makakilo: Casablanca. It is a masterpiece that has improved with age.

Michael: I would say the original Star Wars movie, but they did that when The Force Awakens came out 4 years ago.

James: There are so many of them, for various reasons.

Turambar: I see what you did there Jack. Tee hee. As for me, there’s quite a few movies that I never want to see redone, but I speak for most of the Brutes when I say The Princess Bride needs to be left alone. It’s perfect. Period.

Steven: Pretty much every baseball movie, Bull Durham, Rookie of the Year, Angels in the Outfield (although that could be good with the 2018 Astros scandal).