Tom Brennan - HOW ABOUT A 27 MAN ROSTER?


Tom Brennan - HOW ABOUT A 27 MAN ROSTER?

Everyone is focusing on opening day, the excitement of a new and promising season.  Me, too.  But what about the guys who didn't make the team?

 The Mets will start the season with 8 pen guys, and deGrom presumably pinch hitter of last resort.  So at least early on, the Mets will carry a mere 12 position players.

Let me cut right to it:

Baseball has a problem with Tommy John injuries, and position players are getting screwed as a result.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1960s, I recall there being 10 pitchers and 15 hitters, then eventually baseball moved to 11 and 14, and more recently it's pretty typical to have 12 pitchers and 13 hitters.

Now the Mets want to enter the season temporarily with 13 pitchers and only 12 hitters.  I really don't like it.

It is outrageous frankly that minor league hitters who in the past would have made the majors when there were 15 offensive players per team are now shut out because teams need to carry so many pitchers, as 1) teams want to keep pitch counts down and 2) team's hitters try to work the count more than they used to, driving up pitch counts.

A solution:

27 man teams for the first 2 weeks of major league seasons, as starters get their pitch counts up early in the season, and 26 man teams the rest of the year.  Or just keep rosters at 27 from Opening Day thru August 31.  But if it were to go to 27, no more than 15 offensive players.

Expanding rosters would be fair to all the minor league hitting talent whose major league careers will be minimized, if not altogether squelched, because of this shift towards carrying so many more pitchers, and fewer hitters, on each 25 man roster. 

How about money?  Well, the extra guy or guys on a given team is likely to make the minimum salary or close to it – so it would be cheap to expand to 26 or 27, and fair to guys who devote their young adult lives in a relentless quest for a major league career.

What do you think?  I'd like to know.  But, before you answer, imagine you're that fine minor league hitter, on the cusp, and the door is slammed shut in your face because there are 2 or 3 less offensive slots than 40 years ago. 

The explosion of Tommy John injuries' has altered the game and forever changed the number of pitchers a team must carry.  So give prospect hitters a really important break.  Expand the rosters by one or two offensive players. 

Let's look at the 2015 Mets’ situation for a moment:

In the "What more could I possibly do?" category, because of there being just 12 offensive players headed north, Monell, Muno and Reynolds all got tickets to Vegas despite combining for about .350, with 8 doubles, a triple, 7 HRs and a .400 on base %.  MVP level #'s – so ”C'mon, you made a good impression, right?  Be happy and go get more seasoning.”   So unless any of the Chosen 12 had required DL time, they never had a chance to make this team out of spring no matter how well they did. 

And Soup Campbell was packaged and shipped out to Vegas too (can never have enough Soup in Sin City) despite a healthy .358 on base % and .491 slugging % in camp, and a .263 average in over 200 Met at bats last year. 

"We need 13 pitchers, you see, Eric...oh, and those dreams you have?  We know you worked your tail off, and did great, really, but we have to protect our pitchers by having a lot of them, and rules are rules, so we can only carry 25, and we can only keep a few offensive players.  I'm sure you understand.  Sorry, pal.  Keep your chin up - we'll call you up for another short stint sometime in the future.  Hey, if not soon, see you in September, OK?"

Like I said, I don't like it.  I feel for those guys.  I also don't want to see Jake deGrom pinch hitting due to a shortage of hitters.  He's too valuable to risk hitting any more than he has to.

If you don't like it either, blog about it.  Imagine if one of these guys not getting an opportunity were your son, or a brother.  It would suck. 

Starting next article on Thursday, I’ll start 4 articles beginning with my take on the Mets' top minor league team, the Las Vegas 51's, followed by the next 3 teams down the rung (AA, high A, mid A) in subsequent articles.

Have a good day, folks.


Hobie said...

Not a fan of expanding rosters, although an temporary April expansion might not be so bad.

As far as the pitcher/position player ratio I'd leave that to the team's discretion. If you're essentially going to play the same 8 every day, then your bench is strictly PH-ing for pitchers and a temporary emergency. Double switches add, I suppose, a complication there, but you might value an extra pitcher more than another PH.

However, I have mused for some time about an emergency catcher billet. Similar to hockey, dressed for the game but only can play jn case of an injury. That would give more flexibility in using your active back-up. NFL had an emergency QB status for a while too.

Mack Ade said...

I like the (either) 26 or 27 man roster in April

Mack Ade said...

Hobie -

How about an 'emergency manager' ?

James Preller said...

Owners have been fighting the 26 man roster for years for economic reasons. But injured millionaires, they might finally see the light.

Off-Topic: Some of you said it before, that the Nats aren't all that. But right now that's a very good team suffering badly because of injuries. Three terrific players out of the lineup; that's huge. This team is vulnerable right now, today. The lineup is a pale comparison of its former self without Spann, Werth, and Rendon (who is an emerging superstar, IMO).

It's time to make hay.

Mack Ade said...

The Nats, man for man, are the best team in baseball, but have been hurt losing their top 3 outfielders for awhile.

That being said, the Mets have lost 4 of their orginally planned pen (Parnell, Mejia, Black, Josh Edgin).

Does it even up a little?

Thomas Brennan said...

James, you are absolutely right about the wounded Nats, and making hay would be leaving Washington 3-0 after deGrom and Harvey dominate them...just gotta get the weather to cooperate. No rain outs this week.

On the "millionaire" front, if they overuse, let's say, a David Wright because they lack subs, and he gets injured partially due to fatigue, they'll lose a lot more than they spend. The 26th, 27th guys on most teams would make under a million - plus benefits. it would add to costs minimally.

An alternative is 27 guys until April 30, then back to 25. But I don't write the checks. I just think also that owners whose teams' values are going thru the roof can support these talented, on-the-fringe guys better by expanding.

Hobie said...


There was this New Yorker cartoon some years back,

A wall cabinet labeled "In case of emergency, break glass." There was a fireman sitting inside.

I'm thinking a similar apparatus next to the water-cooler with a Wally bobble-head inside might be appropriate.

Stubby said...

There used to be expanded rosters in April. For a time, it was treated the same as September and you could bring all 40 guys north with you (they didn't start the season as early, then, so you're probably talking two weeks). I don't think anybody ever did bring 40 north, but you could.

That said, its hard to make the case that, because it was 10 and 15 when you grew up, its out of whack now. When I grew up, it was usually 9 pitchers. A rotation was 4. So what? And I will continue to say until I'm blue in the face that arm injuries for pitchers were pretty much as prevalent then as now. Throwing a baseball is not a natural motion for the human body. Back in the day, a pitcher got a sore arm you threw him away and got another and nobody really knew what had happened. And nobody gave it a second thought. The only real difference today is that kids (I'm talking actual kids, here--not pros) are throwing year round and many are pitching curves and screwgies before their bones are even finished growing. And, oh yeah, we've got a lot more teams now than we did then.

And, while the 25 man roster has been around for a long time, its really only since the mid-60s and the advent of the draft that teams have carried 25 people who might actually play. Back in the 40s, teams would always go short for greater roster flexibility. And the bonus baby rules had teams in the 50s and early 60s carrying 2 or 3 guys on the major league roster who rarely, if ever, got into a game.

Because of the service time rules, Monell, Muno and Reynolds were never going to start the season in New York, regardless of how well they did and regardless of roster size. So the only guy truly squeezed out was Soup. Assuming he plays everyday on the farm, you could argue that both he and the team are better off with him not being in New York the first month. Many a career has been ruined for a youngster making the major leagues and....sitting on the bench. With 12 position players, you should have enough flexibility that everybody will play. Only extra inning games become problematic (and the usual worry there is running out of arms, so...)

There are a lot of off days and rain outs in April. David Wright is not going to be over-used in April or suffer fatigue because of it. Would an additional position player even play? I remember Gerry Moses with the Mets years ago. He sat on the bench for a month before we sent him elsewhere--didn't even pinch hit. And that was with ten pitchers.

And you can't tell teams what's best for them. Suppose you add two roster spots and, surprise, they carry two more pitchers. Chicago is carrying three catchers right now. They think that helps them most. The Mets are carrying 13 pitchers because they think that helps them most. Odds are pretty good that'll change before the calendar flips--a pitcher will be injured or traded or sold. Or suck so badly as to be sent down. Meantime, they get to stretch out their arms with greater caution (we all know Collins likes to overuse his pitchers). If 13 pitchers in April means fresher arms in September, I'm all for it.

Ultimately, its a bargaining issue and its about money. The players want more major league roster space because they want more major leaguers--more money for them. Owners don't want it because more major leaguers means less money for them; they aren't wild about paying major league salaries to people who sit on the bench--even league minimum. I leave it to them. They know the game better than I do. I remember surviving just fine with the 24 man roster, so I;m sure we can do it with 25.

Thomas Brennan said...

Good points, Stubby.

I don't recall the expanded roster in April - never paid attention to stuff like that when I was younger.

Of the 4, I did not say as much, but I saw the extra 2 guys as Soup and Monell. Monell has been around, and is 29. Any older and he'd be in his 30's, which is old in baseball years.

I only saw Muno or Reynolds on the team if they were replacing an injured Murphy temporarily or if Tejada hadn't cut the mustard and Mets traded or released him, which was moot due to his good play.

But losing slots to increased pitchers could hamper them making the bigs in the future.

And I agree - teams will certainly survive staying at 25 - my point mostly was that because of expanded pitching rosters, hitters making the majors have it much tougher than say 1965, whether the guys on the end of the bench played or not.

I'd rather sit at the end of a major league bench than be in my late 20's and early 30's and stuck in the minors putting up good seasons playing every day. I'm sure a lot of guys who almost but don't quite make it feel the same way. They're in it to be in the bigs.

Zozo said...

The next collective bargaining agreement in my opinion should have a 27 man roster all year and switch the national league to DH. It makes the game a little more interesting when there are more runs scored. That way we can keep guys fresh as well, especially when you have a Piazza type in the lineup. I would have definitely been happier if he was at least batting every day. Instead of showing up to the park and he gets a day off.
But if both changes were to be made that would benefit the players association, so the owners in turn should constitute a world wide draft to go with our draft, that way both sides get a little something.
While we are at it they should go down to 154 game season as well!!!
My 3 cents

TP said...

The DH makes me sick (nothing personal). However, I do see the expanded roster as the only way to get rid of the DH, even though that is a long shot. The player's union will never allow big money offense only jobs to be threatened, unless the could add jobs. MLB needs to be smart with this - adding players cannot lengthen the time of games and adding players cannot reduce the offense. This can be done if there is a will to play real baseball in both leagues.

eraff said...

the 27 man roster would probably net another pitcher or two--guaranteeing another 1 or 2 pitching changes per game. ...yech!!!!

You'd probably not carry another bench bat...---that guy wouldn't get enough bats to remain effective.

Thomas Brennan said...

Ideally, Eraff, with 27 man roster, in recognizing teams may need or desire to reduce the workload of guys like Mejia, I'd like to see a cap of no more than 13 pitchers.

I'd bet most teams would opt to carry 13 pitchers and 14 hitters, but in some cases 12 and 15. Having 13 would really reduce bullpen strain.

Ernest Dove said...

How bout NL adopt the DH rule already

Thomas Brennan said...

I like the DH, Ernest. More offense, sign me up.

TP said...

DH is not real baseball. Hate to be old-timer on this. MLB offense needs to improve through better hitting strategies and execution, not through adoption of old-man softball rules.

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