Ranking the Top Landing Spots for James Shields

James Shields

It’s been a very long and – undoubtedly – very disappointing offseason for James Shields, but it appears as though it is finally reaching a conclusion.

Jon Morosi of FoxSports is reporting that Shields has a number of offers in hand and is expected to make a final decision about where he’ll sign by the end of the week.

Despite being the number three free agent starter available, the market for Shields has been incredibly slow to develop this offseason. When fellow free agent studs Jon Lester and Max Scherzer signed for big-time money, it was believed Shields would cash-in himself.

In fact, it was just a month ago that he was rumored to have a five-year, $110 million deal in hand, obviously that pact never materialized or I wouldn’t be writing about Shields’ pursuit of a contract two weeks before pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

It’s understandable that teams would be cautious about giving big money to the right-hander. Shields is 33-years-old and has a lot of miles on his right arm.

He’s thrown 200+ innings eight seasons in a row, including 227 innings or more in each of the last four years. That’s good enough for more than 1,900 total innings in his career.

While it could be argued that he’s simply shown incredible durability, he’s also seen his K/9 rate decrease in each of the past two seasons and his H/9 increase over the last four years. He’s shown improved command to make up for his diminishing ability to overpower hitters, but there are warning signs of a major regression in production and teams rarely want to pay top dollar or commit to multiple years in those situations.

If Shields and his agents are willing to re-adjust their expectations and settle for fewer years and dollars, it’s safe to assume that a number of teams could jump back into the mix for his services.

With that thought in mind, we’ve ranked the top seven destinations for Shields – assuming a contract in the four-year, $80 million range is what he’ll land – and three potential dark horse candidates to swoop in for Shields.

San Diego Padres

san diegoIt’s been a very busy offseason for general manager A.J. Preller and he’s been rumored to be in the mix for a front-of-the-rotation starter for much of the winter. Shields would fit the bill and would seemingly thrive moving to the National League and pitching half of his games at Petco Park.

The Padres have reportedly been in talks with the Phillies about trading for Cole Hamels throughout much of the offseason. If Shields – who makes his home in San Diego – could be signed for something similar to or even below what Hamels has left on his deal, it’d be hard to imagine San Diego would balk at the opportunity.

Arizona Diamondbacks

arizonaThe Diamondbacks were rumored to have “in the mix” for Shields earlier this offseason before reportedly backing off when it seemed as though his price was sky-rocketing. In reality, it’s done just the opposite and Shields still makes a lot of sense for a club that’s desperately in need of an ace – sorry Josh Collmenter, you don’t count – to lead the club and gobble up innings.

The club has a protected first-round pick and will gain significant financial flexibility with the contracts of Trevor Cahill, Bronson Arroyo, and Aaron Hill all coming off the books in the next two seasons. If his price has dropped, he’s a perfect fit for Arizona.

Boston Red Sox

bostonThe Red Sox retooled their rotation in a big way this offseason adding Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, and Rick Porcello to build a groundball heavy staff. The two incumbents to the rotation: Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly are both solid, but the rotation lacks a bona fide ace.

Shields might not be an ace in most clubhouses, but in Boston, he’d be the reliable, innings-eater that the club could use. He’d also be the only real power pitcher on the roster. The Red Sox spent a ton of money to upgrade the offense, adding a big arm – at a discount – could be a huge win for Boston.

Milwaukee Brewers

milwaukeeThe Brewers have money to spend and are in need of an ace after trading away Yovani Gallardo in January. Trade talks to acquire Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon and his bulky salary appear to have cooled, so there is still plenty of room in Milwaukee for Shields. He would join veterans Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse at the front of the rotation. His addition would, however, push one of Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, or Jimmy Nelson to the bullpen.

The Brewers are notorious for making big splashes late in the winter – they did the same with both Lohse and Garza in each of the past two winters – and the presence of Shields in the rotation could help Milwaukee contend for a pennant in the highly-competitive National League Central.

Chicago Cubs

chicagoNLThe Cubs have been busy this offseason and appear primed to become contenders in the near future. The rotation behind recent signee Jon Lester is good, but not great. The addition of Shields would give the club arguably the top one-two punch of any rotation in National League Central.

Shields to Chicago might be a long shot with a slew of much younger free agent starters slated to hit the market next winter, but if the Cubs are serious about turning themselves into legitimate contenders this season, adding Shields to the rotation would go a long way toward making that happen.

Miami Marlins

miamiThe Marlins showed interest in Shields last month and would rank higher if Dan Haren’s “will he or won’t he” saga had ended with him hanging up the spikes. Instead, Haren will show up at spring training and the Marlins have a lot of money tied up in their roster as currently comprised.

Shields would give the Marlins a cushion until Jose Fernandez recovers from Tommy John surgery and he’d be around as a stabilizing presence in the rotation if/when Haren and Mat Latos leave via free agency at the end of the season, but similar to the Cubs above, it might be better for the club to wait and buy into next year’s younger crop of free agent starters instead.

Chicago White Sox

chicagoALMuch like their crosstown counterparts, the White Sox have been very active this offseason adding Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Jesse Crain, and Emilio Bonifacio. Despite those additions, the club is still far from a lock for a postseason berth this season. The addition of Shields would help their cause in a major way.

Samardzija is a free-agent after the 2015 campaign and signing him to an extension figures to be the club’s primary concern, but luring him into a long-term deal could be much easier if Chris Sale and James Shields are already anchoring the top of the rotation for the foreseeable future.

Dark Horses

New York Yankees

newyorkALThe Yankees went on record numerous times this offseason saying that they were not interested in Shields (or any other high-profile free agent for that matter). That was before Shields was still a free agent in February. It’s hard to imagine the Bronx Bombers passing up a chance to land the very familiar right-hander at a significant discount.

Shields has had plenty of success in the American League East in the past and his durability would do wonders for a club that’s got a slew of injury risk tied up in the rotation’s front three of CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda. They’re a long-shot, but they’ve got deep enough pockets to never be out of the conversation.

Oakland Athletics

oaklandBilly Beane is total a wild card. He always has been and he always will be, period.

When the offseason started, it appeared as though he was tearing apart his roster for a rebuild. It didn’t take long for it to become abundantly clear that he was just moving pieces to keep the club in contention, provide some financial flexibility, and reload a minor league system that was weakened with some “going for it all” trades over the summer.

Money is always the issue with Oakland, but two Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin both still working their way back from Tommy John surgery and Scott Kazmir due to hit free agency after the season, it might be worth opening the checkbook for a legitimate innings-eating machine to stabilize the rotation.

St. Louis Cardinals

st louisOn the surface, the club seems set with a rotation of Adam Wainwright, John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez. That having been said; Wainwright is still working his way back from injury, Wacha was hurt much of last season, and Lackey was mediocre in his St. Louis debut late last summer. Should Wainwright or any of the others falter, the club would turn to oft-injured right-hander Jaime Garcia or young lefty Marco Gonzales.

While Shields isn’t an obvious fit, he would improve and stabilize the rotation in a big way. The club likely won’t spend the money, but if there are any lingering injury concerns about the rotation as it stands, Shields – at a discount and reduced years – seems like a good fit.

———————————-

So there you have it, our top seven destinations for Shields and three potential dark horse candidates.

Do you think we were close? Did we miss wildly? Do you think he’s headed somewhere else?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Posted in Arizona Diamondbacks, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Free Agency, James Shields, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals | 3 Comments

Josh Hamilton to Undergo Shoulder Surgery, Doubtful for Opening Day

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton’s tenure in Los Angeles hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations that came with the five-year, $125 million contract that he signed before the 2013 season.

Now it looks as though he’s run into yet another speedbump.

Angels’ beat writer, Alden Gonzalez is reporting that Hamilton will undergo surgery to repair the acromioclavicular joint in his right shoulder. The timetable for his return is roughly six-to-eight weeks.

Hamilton, 33, originally hurt his shoulder late last season and missed the bulk of September before returning to the field looking like a shell of his former MVP-self in the postseason.

The surgery and recovery time make Hamilton unlikely to be ready for Opening Day.

Since joining the Angels, Hamilton has hit .255/.316/.426 with 31 home runs, 123 RBI, and 116 runs scored.

As a point of reference, in his final year with Texas he hit .285/.354/.577 with 43 home runs, 128 RBI, and 103 runs scored in roughly 350 fewer at-bats than he’s had in his two years in Los Angeles.

It’s been a far cry from the .313/.370/.583 line and 33 home runs, 107 RBI, and 93 runs scored that he averaged during his final three years with the Texas Rangers.

Throughout his entire five-year stint in Texas, Hamilton was one of the best hitters in the game. He was a five-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger, a won the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player award.

He’s yet to match any of those accomplishments in Los Angeles and this setback won’t do him any favors as he looks to get his career back on track in 2015.

Matt Joyce – acquired via off-season trade – figures to benefit the most from Hamilton’s early absence. Joyce has been roughly as good as Hamilton over the last two years and is three years younger, so it’s not impossible to imagine him pushing Hamilton for playing time after his shoulder has healed.

If that happens, it’s safe to assume it won’t do anything to quiet the rumors that Hamilton will be moved before the end of his contract with Los Angeles.

Hamilton’s story should be an interesting one to follow this season.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, MVP, MLB, American League, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Injuries, Matt Joyce, Josh Hamilton | Leave a comment

Game On: Yoan Moncada is a Free Agent

yoan moncada
Yoan Moncada has been waiting for quite some time, but – as of today – he is officially a free agent.

The star prospect is now free to sign with any Major League Baseball team and make lots and lots of cash in the process.

Until very recently, the process was taking months of back-and-forth between the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Major League Baseball as the process for allowing Cuban players to sign with MLB teams has long been convoluted and time-consuming.

Recent changes in the government’s policy regarding Cuba, however, prompted MLB to overhaul the process and allow for Cuban players to sign with major league teams much more quickly and with fewer hassles.

The new process requires Cuban players to present a sworn affidavit to Major League Baseball proving that they are residents of another country, have no intention of returning to Cuba, and are not Cuban government officials.

Once that has been done, the player is free to sign with major league teams immediately.

The new process means that – in addition to Moncada – fellow Cuban infielders, Hector Olivera and Andy Ibanez should be on the fast-track to free agency as well.

Moncada, 19, however, is the cream of the crop and is widely-regarded as the top international prospect available.

The infielder is a switch-hitter who possesses excellent bat speed and raw power that is still developing. It could develop quickly as he continues to fill-out, he was listed at 6 feet and 210 pounds while playing in Cuba.

yoan moncadaIn addition to his promising bat, he’s got top-notch wheels and offers defensive versatility. The youngster has experience at shortstop, second base, third base, and – sporadically – in center field.

Due to his size and the demands at shortstop, it’s believed he’ll ultimately wind up at second base – his primary position for Cienfuegos during his stint in Serie Nacional – or at third base when he reaches the big leagues.

There is some speculation that a club could try to maximize his speed and arm strength by utilizing him in the outfield, but given his incredible upside as an infielder, it’s unlikely a club would sign Moncada and not give him a chance to win an infield job before moving him to the outfield.

Moncada held a showcase for a number of teams in November and has held private work outs with a number of clubs including the Rays, Dodgers, Brewers, Rangers, Giants, Yankees, Red Sox, and Padres.

It’s also believed the Cubs are very interested, but wouldn’t be able to sign him until after June 15, due to international signing restrictions from spending big in previous years.

Despite rampant interest, it’s likely that only the clubs with the deepest pockets have a chance at landing Moncada as he is pegged to sign for $30-40 million.

If that seems like a lot of money, it’s worth noting that this figure doesn’t include the penalty the team will pay for exceeding their bonus pool amounts. Moncada is subject to the international bonus pools as he’s considered an amateur.

The penalty for exceeding those allotted pools figures to result in a 100% tax on every dollar spent, making the final cost to the winner something closer to the $60-80 million range.

In addition to the monetary cost, whichever club signs Moncada will also lose the ability to sign any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. This is the same restriction currently placed on the Cubs.

The Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox are heavily-speculated to be the front-runners, but Moncada is considered a big enough talent for plenty of dark horses to sneak into the mix and spend big.

Let the games begin.

Posted in Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago Cubs, Free Agency, International Signing, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Yoan Moncada | 1 Comment

Super Bowl XLIX: CSC Staff Predictions

Super-Bowl-XLIX

I don’t know if you’ve heard the news, but apparently there’s a football game taking place this afternoon.

Rumor has it that it’s a pretty big deal too.

Who knew? You’d think with something this important they’d talk about it a little bit to keep people in the loop.

Given this late-breaking news, the CSC writing staff has decided to do something ground-breaking and make predictions about the outcome of the game.

Right?!

You won’t find content like this anywhere else on the internet.

So, without any further ado, let’s dive right into things with predictions on the winner, the final score, the MVP, and – as a bonus – one outlandish prediction for today’s game from staff writers Steven Kunkel, Jesse Motiff, Justin Kunkel, Ryan Gehrke, and our resident blogger-in-chief, Jeremiah Graves.

Super Bowl Winner

headshot-skunkel headshot-motiff headshot-graves headshot-junkel headshot-gehrke
Steven Jesse Graves Justin Ryan
Patriots Seahawks Patriots Seahawks Seahawks

Final Score

headshot-skunkel headshot-motiff headshot-graves headshot-junkel headshot-gehrke
Steven Jesse Graves Justin Ryan
34-23 27-21 28-21 24-21 27-20

Most Valuable Player

headshot-skunkel headshot-motiff headshot-graves headshot-junkel headshot-gehrke
Steven Jesse Graves Justin Ryan
Rob Gronkowski Legion of Boom Shane Vereen Marshawn Lynch Marshawn Lynch

Outlandish Prediction

Steven: Chick-fil-A’s “Eat More Chikin” cow will score a fat man touchdown.

Jesse: Justin Verlander publicly breaks up with Kate Upton after the airing of her “God of War” Super Bowl commercial.

Graves: Taylor Swift makes a full heel turn by attacking Katy Perry backstage with a folding chair. She then proceeds to perform the half-time show herself, while Perry is rushed to the hospital for medical attention. The world gets a drastically-improved half-time show as a result and Katy Perry learns a very valuable life lesson about crossing Tay-Tay. Don’t do it. Ever.

Justin: Late in the 4th Quarter Beast Mode finds his inner Bo Jackson and does this to win the game…

Ryan: Vince Wilfork scores a rushing touchdown as Walter Peyton cries in the afterlife.

—–

Now it’s your turn.

Head to the comments section and leave your Super Bowl predictions, especially your outlandish predictions.

If anyone manages to correctly predict the winner, score, and MVP – (tiny disclaimer: all submissions must be posted by 6:00pm Eastern) – they will win a prize from the Cheap Seat Chronicles team!

Bust out your crystal ball, call your local fortune teller, flip a coin…do what you gotta do, just get to predicting!

Posted in Bill Belichick, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Football, Marshawn Lynch, New England Patriots, NFL, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl, Tom Brady | 2 Comments

Karma’s Out to Get You, Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant

Dear Kris Bryant,

Congratulations on becoming the top-ranked player in Minor League Baseball! I’m sure this is a very exciting time for you as you try to prove to your Major League affiliate that you are the perfect for for their long-term plans!

Over the course of your minor league career you have shown major growth, development, and SO MUCH POWER, proving that you are worthy of this #1 ranking, and what should be an everyday job in the Majors right out of Spring Training. Heck, with all the young talent in Chicago – coupled with the moves that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made this winter – your skills could translate to a playoff appearance for the Cubbies if everything falls into place.

Pushing Chicago back into the playoffs – and potentially the World Series – would surely land a Rookie of the Year award on your mantle. We know this is obviously a part of your larger goals and we hope you obtain all the success in the world, but we have a warning for you, Mr. #1 Prospect in Baseball:

Watch. Your. Back.

This warning does not come lightly or without just cause.

You see, Mr. Bryant. There is some type of karma that has it out for the guy who is handed the title of the best prospect in baseball. Something doesn’t want to see them succeed; and whatever it is that is bringing the hammer down on these prospects, frankly, scares the hell out of me.

buxton001Let’s take a look at Byron Buxton, center fielder for the Minnesota Twins organization, and last year’s consensus #1 prospect in the game, according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN.com and MLB.com. Buxton is a solid five-tool player who manufactured a blistering .944 OPS in 2013, he was well on his way to making an impact for a very bad Twins team which has posted 90-loss seasons in four consecutive years.

Buxton was supposed to be the savior for the franchise. You don’t often come across a player who is a legitimate plus prospect in all five tools: hitting, fielding, running, throwing, and power. He and Miguel Sano were going to make an impact and reignite a once legitimate powerhouse in the American League Central.

…and then the injuries came.  And they didn’t stop.

Throughout the entirety of 2014 Buxton just couldn’t seem to stay healthy. As a result, he naturally produced less-than-stellar numbers, and certainly nowhere near “best prospect in baseball” territory. On the whole he put up a triple slash of .234/.307/.395 in only 30 games of High-A ball, and one partial game at Double-A.

It started out with a spring training wrist injury that cost him three months. After finally returning to the field he was eventually promoted to Double-A, where in his first game there he collided with teammate Mike Kvasnicka, making the hearts of each and every Twins fan skip a beat while watching him get carted off the field in an ambulance. Check out the nasty collision below:

Despite this initial shock and panic, this collision only resulted in a concussion, albeit one that ended Buxton’s already disappointing season in August.

Buxton was eventually cleared to participate in the Arizona Fall League in the hopes of recouping some of the lost playing time, but instead of re-establishing himself, he dislocated the middle finger on his left hand while diving for a ball in the outfield.

Needless to say, Buxton’s stock has fallen quite a bit and rather than hype and big expectations; Buxton, and Twins fans alike, are simply hoping for a healthy year in 2015.

If the proof of the baseball Gods striking down Byron Buxton isn’t enough, Mr. Bryant, then look no further than Buxton’s predecessor as the number one prospect in baseball, Jurickson Profar.

profar001Profar had already shown the Texas Rangers that he was their guy, hitting a home run in his first major league at bat.

He was added to their playoff roster in the 2012 postseason proving how professional he was as a 19-year-old playing on baseball’s biggest stage.

Profar was believed to be the “next big thing” before the 2013 season, he was ranked as the consensus #1 prospect in baseball by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and the MLB.com. He started out that season at Triple-A Round Rock and demolished minor league pitching to the tune of seven doubles, two triples, four homers, and six stolen bases in only 37 games.

Profar finally got his chance to prove what he could do in an extended look with the Rangers when second baseman Ian Kinsler was put on the disabled list on May 19, with a strained rib muscle. Without a full-time position to play after Kinsler returned, Profar was moved all over the diamond over the final part of the 2013 season. At 20-years-old, he showed flashes of promise during an otherwise unsuccessful campaign, hitting .234/.308/.336.

Despite not tearing the cover off the ball in his brief big league stint, he’d shown enough for the Rangers organization to deal Kinsler, to the Detroit Tigers for slugging first baseman, Prince Fielder. Profar was slated to be the Rangers everyday second baseman coming into the 2014 season.

…and then the injuries came.  And they didn’t stop

Profar first felt pain in his shoulder during Spring Training of 2014. Later an MRI revealed there was a tear, but the only way to get better was with rest and relaxation. Texas shut him down for three months, being very conservative with Profar’s rehab. Unfortunately, shortly after beginning a throwing program in May, he aggravated the shoulder while rolling over in bed, requiring more rest and still no options for surgery. This marked the end of his season.

When Profar tried again for another throwing program in September the shoulder flared up for a third time. The Rangers decided to rest him for another three months, hoping he will be ready for Spring Training 2015. Recent MRIs have shown positive results, and he may have finally put this all behind him. Time will tell, but needless to say, it was a very long year for Mr. Profar.

harper001Then there is the wunderkind, Bryce Harper.

You may remember him as that kid who showed up on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was just 16-years-old.  He graduated high school early so that he could attend one of the best junior college baseball programs in the nation, College of Southern Nevada, and make himself eligible for the draft as early as humanly possible.

Bryce Harper always had talent, aggression, charisma, and a certain flair for the game. All of that was on full-display during his season with CSN and it only further elevated his already soaring draft stock. He was drafted by the Nationals first overall in 2010, and showed so much promise after his first year of professional baseball that he became the number one prospect in 2011. He was bestowed with that title again in 2012.

Harper was called up to the Nationals in April of 2012 at a mere 19-years-and-195-days-old. He served as a spark-plug and helped propel the team to 98 wins and their first division title since the franchise moved to Washington. Although the Nationals were eliminated in the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Harper ultimately went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year, proving just how right everybody was about him.

As you can see, Harper sustained great success during his rookie season, and looked on pace to be one of best the game has ever seen.

…and then the injuries came.  And they didn’t stop.

As a result, Harper was sapped of his power and was forced to tone down his aggressive, all-out playing style.

The injury that started it all was when Harper took on a wall – twice in a one month period – and the wall won both times. The wall shot that did the most damage was in May of 2013. Harper was tracking a deep fly ball hit by the Dodgers’ A.J. Ellis. He lost track of where he was on the field and crashed into the wall at full-speed. He suffered a jammed left shoulder and a cut under his chin that required eleven stitches.

This same collision with said wall was also blamed for knee issues that Harper fought on-and-off throughout the rest of the season, curtailing his power in the second half of the season. The knee eventually required Bursa Sac surgery in October of the same year.

It was expected that 2014 would finally provide Harper a clean, injury-free slate to continue his building the early stages of his “legacy.” Unfortunately, it was more of the same and 2014 wasn’t any kinder to the young outfielder.

Harper was benched in late April by new manager, Matt Williams for a perceived “lack of hustle,” despite nursing a tight quad. Less than ten days later, he suffered a left thumb injury sliding into third base in an attempt to leg out a bases clearing triple. An MRI later revealed that he had a torn ulnar collateral ligament that would require surgery on the thumb. Harper finally returned to have a rough month of July before righting the ship and hitting .279 with seven home runs in August.

Clearly, there is room for redemption and happy endings, but recent history has not been kind to top prospects.

Kris, if I were you, I would stay away from mirrors, ladders, and I would never, EVER, step on the foul line. It doesn’t help that you already play for the “cursed” Cubs franchise.

You have been the epitome of an amazing MiLB player, and I want to see these skills translate into the Major Leagues. Your 2014 Minor League season was one for the ages; hitting 43 dingers is not easy at any level, and I hope you will have a long, successful, and injury-free MLB career. It is time to break the injury streak and provide the Cubs organization a homegrown super star that they desperately need on their road to becoming relevant again.

Kris Bryant. Stay healthy my friend.

All the best,
Justin Kunkel

Posted in Baseball, Bryce Harper, Byron Buxton, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago Cubs, ESPN, Injuries, Jurickson Profar, Kris Bryant, Minnesota Twins, MLB, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals | Leave a comment

Fastball Special

Pace of PlayRecently, it was announced that Minor League Baseball plans to institute a “pitch clock” during the 2015 season.

This will be used as a trial and – if it goes well – could be brought to Major League Baseball in an effort to speed up the game.

In 2014, the average length of a MLB game was 3 hours and 8 minutes, up from 2 hours and 51 minutes in 2004.

It seems three hours is the threshold length of tolerance for a sporting event. Anything longer is too slow-paced for fans and their dwindling attention spans.

Ideally, MLB could do some damage control to those that think their game is “boring” by making the games faster. I would think the actual plan would aim to get games to be in the 2 hour and 45 minute to 3 hour range.

But if faster = better, let’s make baseball the best game it can be with these suggestions:

1) No “Kiss Cam”. Commercials breaks matter. If there is less time between innings, the total length of game can be reduced. Just taking out 30 seconds between half innings saves around eight minutes. Less time for commercials means less time for gimmicks to keep the fans entertained during pauses in play. If you want to kiss someone, go find a plate of spaghetti in a back alley someplace.

2) Keep 100 baseballs behind the pitcher. When balls get scuffed or knocked out of play, the umpire has to put new baseballs into play. That supply comes from his “umpire satchel” or whatever the actual name is. If the satchel empties, a ball boy has to run out and give the umpire more balls. If we keep a giant case of baseballs right behind the pitcher, he can get his own ball. Think of the entertainment value of watching a pitcher scrounge around for a new ball from the case in disgust while the hitter rounds the bases. Anyone concerned about the ball case affecting any play of the field should calm down. There is a hill in deep center of Minute Maid Park. There is a giant wall in left field of Fenway Stadium. There are catwalks that get hit by batted balls in Tropicana Field. The ball case would be part of the fun.

3) Men with stun guns. Keep a man with a stun gun just outside the batter box, behind the batter. The batter is allowed to step out once per at bat. Anything more and the “stunner” is allowed to use the stun gun on the player. The pitcher is allowed to throw a pitch while the batter is convulsing.

4) No more than three pitches per at bat. A walk hasn’t always been four balls. Sure, it’s been four for well over a century, but the game is allowed to change. So from now on two balls is a walk and two strikes is a strikeout. Batters can “earn” a strikeout by fouling off a ball as well. This makes sense because the batter shouldn’t earn another try just because he couldn’t get the ball into the field of play. You don’t get an extra down in the NFL if you throw a pass out of bounds. If it’s a huge concern, just move the walls right up to the foul line (more fans = more money!).

5) One Relief Pitcher. Since a pitcher will be throwing less pitches per game, there needs to be fewer pitching changes throughout. Also, when the relief pitcher is brought in, he must pitch within twenty seconds. It’s not like bullpen is that much different.

6) Two substitutions (non-pitcher) per game. No more of this “double switching” and “defensive replacements” all willy nilly. The manager gets to make two non-pitching substitutions per game. However, injuries do happen. If the manager has to do a third change, the player being subbed for cannot play for the next seven days.

These are just starting points and hopefully we can try these out in the minor leagues before they get instituted in MLB.

If you have any additional ideas to improve the pace of play, share them in the comments.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, MLB, Ranting | Leave a comment

WWE Royal Rumble Preview and Predictions

rumble event

The WWE’s Road to WrestleMania begins tonight with the Royal Rumble live on the WWE Network and pay-per-view.

The Royal Rumble emanates from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and should be an exciting event.

The top two matches on the card are the annual Royal Rumble match and a triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between the champion, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Mr. Money in the Bank, Seth Rollins.

The rest of the card is, um, happening to help kill time before the two marquee matches of the evening. To help you get up to speed on the event, Ryan Gehrke and I decided to tag-team our coverage of the Royal Rumble.

We’ve got some quick match previews and our picks for each match of the evening.

Enjoy.

Continue reading

Posted in Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Kofi Kingston, Professional Wrestling, Roman Reigns, Royal Rumble, Seth Rollins, WWE | Leave a comment