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.
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.