In his latest column for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal chats with five players — Max Scherzer, Daniel Murphy, Paul Goldschmidt, Jerry Blevins and Chris Iannetta — about their concerns over the proposed 20-second pitch clock and their more general thoughts on the league’s pace of play initiatives. All of the players express a willingness to change and acknowledge that they’re in favor of speeding up the game to an extent, though none voiced support of a clock. Iannetta states that the clock “fundamentally changes the way the game is played,” while Goldschmidt shares some concerns he’s heard from Double-A and Triple-A players that have played with the clock but found it to be a headache.
“In some cases, I heard of ways around the rule,” says Goldschmidt. “You could kind of gimmick it. You could slow down the game. You could step off. It wasn’t like it just forced guys to throw pitches a lot quicker. There was a lot of gray area guys weren’t comfortable with.” Both Scherzer and Blevins, meanwhile, expressed some frustration with the fact that they’re routinely on the mound ready to go but have to wait an additional 20-30 seconds for commercial breaks to end. It’s an interesting read for those who have strong feelings, one way or another, on the newest slate of proposed rule changes to the game.
A few more notes from around the league…
- It’s prospect ranking season! Baseball America rolled out their 2018 Top 100 list today, headlined by Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna in the top spot. Of course, the decision was far from easy for them, and the BA staff explained the decision process at length in a separate post for BA subscribers. As JJ Cooper, Ben Badler, Kyle Glaser, Josh Norris and Matt Eddy explain in great detail, there were feelings among the BA staff that any of Acuna, Shohei Ohtani or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could have been the No. 1 overall prospect this season. Among the factors considered when trying to reach a consensus were the age-old position player vs. pitcher debate as well as Acuna’s proximity to the Majors relative to Guerrero.
- Meanwhile, over at ESPN, Keith Law published the first half of his Top 100 prospects today. There are several notable players that have been traded in the past year on the back half of the list, including Sandy Alcantara (whom the Marlins received as the headliner in the Marcell Ozuna swap), James Kaprielian (who went to the Athletics as part of last July’s Sonny Gray trade) and Franklin Perez and Daz Cameron (who went to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander blockbuster). Angels fans will be heartened to see four entrants on the list — Jahmai Jones, Chris Rodriguez, Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell — as their once lowly farm system begins to build back up.
- Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com looks at the Orioles’ need for a left-handed-hitting outfielder to balance out the lineup and runs down a list of players that have “intrigued various members of the organization.” That includes Carlos Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera and Nori Aoki, according to Connolly, in addition to other names that have been recently mentioned (e.g. Jarrod Dyson). Trey Mancini and Adam Jones figure to be in the outfield regularly, but the Orioles’ hope is that they can acquire a defensively superior option to Mark Trumbo to slot into right field, thus pushing Trumbo to DH.
- In a fantastic column for the Players’ Tribune, Andrew McCutchen bids an emotional farewell to the city of Pittsburgh, which he writes “will always be home” and “will always mean everything” to him. McCutchen recounts the overwhelming experience of the standing ovation he received at the Pirates’ final home game of the season last year, as Bucs fans recognized that they may never see him in a Pirates uniform again. He also shares his experience of finding out about the trade, with credit to Neal Huntington for how he handled the process. Fans of the Pirates, Giants and baseball in general will all want to check out the column in its entirety.