Marlins manager Don Mattingly was the latest manager to complain about September roster expansion rules, stating that “the game you play for five months is not the game you play in September.” According to Mattingly, the roster expansion from 25 to 40 in the month of September changes the “fundamental nature of the game” by allowing clubs to use up to 40 players in a given contest as opposed to the 25 they’d be able to use from April to August.
Objectively, Mattingly’s accusation that the game is fundamentally different is hard to argue. With a hat tip to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN for the stats, the recent Saturday contest between the Marlins and Phillies was the first non-DH game since 1900 in which no pitcher recorded a plate appearance. It was also just the fourth game in MLB history in which no pitcher tallied more than six outs. Mattingly’s not the first manager to take issue with roster expansion; former Brewers GM Doug Melvin complained about the change as early as 2005.
Here are a pair of other notes from throughout baseball earlier today…
- Mets hitter Jay Bruce apparently wants his “audition” with the Mets late this year to “mean something”, per a report from Mike Puma of the New York Post. Taken in context, it’s quite a turnaround to hear such words about a player who less than a year ago was signed to a three-year, $39MM deal in hopes that he’d be a difference-maker for the Amazins. But an unfortunate fall from grace this year has seen the once-proud slugger struggle to a .221/.300/.373 batting line with just 8 homers while bouncing between the outfield and first base in Queens. Bruce hopes his recent power surge since being activated from the disabled list has dispelled any notion that the Mets “goofed” by signing him. Furthermore, the fact that they’ve given him significant time at first base might hint that he could have a leg up on former top prospect Dominic Smith for the starting first base job in 2019.
- Though many front offices began their free agency planning as early as August 1st, we’re just now entering the time period at which many players begin evaluating their foray into the market. Buster Olney of ESPN.com details the high-payday potential of a few names on the market who are less high-profile than the frequently-mentioned 2018-2019 headliners. That list includes outfielder Michael Brantley, left-handed starter Patrick Corbin, and recently-traded infielder Daniel Murphy. Olney’s subscription-only piece doesn’t list any surprises; they’re all players a reasonable baseball pundit might expect to earn significant dollars this offseason. But his piece offers an interesting preview of the list of players whose high stock is perhaps overshadowed by the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Clayton Kershaw.