Reese Kaplan -- So What Will New Games Look Like?


One of the topics of conversation among baseball fans these days is how we will all react to games that feature an expanded roster, aggressive use of “openers” instead of traditional starting pitchers, and a playoff scheme that doesn’t mirror what we’ve grown accustomed to enjoying each fall.  Furthermore, what do we do about the inability to see games in person assuming that is a geographic possibility due to heightened guidelines about social distancing and precluding large crowds from gathering together.  

Nearly everyone agrees that they want baseball games to resume, whether in empty stadiums, mannequin-filled stadiums or even open for ticket sales to the brave and/or foolhardy who would put entertainment above health.  Some have said that they are past the 2020 season already and really are just looking forward to the abbreviated draft exercises and evaluating how the major league teams gracelessly clamp the padlocks on various minor league ballparks.  

Personally, I think players should have the option to play or not to play (which, of course, comes with the caveat of get paid or don’t get paid).  I can foresee a mix of mid range and younger veteran ballplayers mixed with fringe minor leaguers and ex major leaguers anxious to get the opportunity to show what they can do.  

Will teams push their top prospects up the chain rapidly to fill the larger-than-usual rosters?  I think not, as it will inhibit their normal growth and take away from the ever important number of games played in the majors which could wind up costing the owners more money sooner in the future.  No, I think the prospect of seeing an Andres Gimenez pales next to more of the Luis Guillorme and Matt Blackham types who are not really part of the long term architecture of the team.  Bringing fringe players who aren’t even on the 40-man roster up the chain could provide trade possibilities that otherwise didn’t exist if they perform reasonably well.  It’s a time for the low draft picks to shine when many are afraid to play the game.

What is most interesting to me is what you do with players who are in the last year of a conventional 2020 player contract before hitting free agency.  Does it make sense to give up at-bats to guys like Yoenis Cespedes or Jed Lowrie or innings pitched to Marcus Stroman or Justin Wilson?  After all, there’s no guarantee they are part of the 2021 and beyond New York Mets team.  Besides, the eventual “Fall Classic” is going to be fraught with a whole printing press worth of asterisks, so if they do well or don’t play really won’t amount to much in the annals of baseball metrics.

Perhaps the most important aspect of games returning is to fan the flames of interest in the sport.  It is rapidly becoming a baseball-less summer.  People are finding other things to do and that fact alone contributes not only to the reduced revenue at the gates but also the long term future of teams.  If you can get fans interested in the game in whatever morphed or hybrid version, then it’s possible you will find other businessmen interested in acquiring a team.  The Mets have not had much success in their ill-fated attempts to lure in a new owner.  Games will help in that regard since it doesn’t appear they are doing much else towards achieving that objective. 


Tom Brennan said...

Owners are ingenious, realizing there are quite a few grossly overpaid players (given their current performance levels) like Robby Cano who might prefer to sit and not get paid. Lower payrolls reduce owner losses.

Yoenis Cespedes - logic would suggest decline, but could he turn out to be one of their most dangerous hitters? Possibly. He did, after all, have a Mets' career .543 slugging %. If so, it would be a scary line up.

If he can't hit, he ought to sit.

Mack Ade said...

I wouldn't play anyone that isn't under contract in 2021.

This year will always be condidered an abberation.

Mike Steffanos said...

Good piece. My guess is they'll play guys like Cespedes and Stroman because more people will watch Mets games on tv if they play. Plus, as long as they're willing to play you'd have to pay them anyway. One last consideration would be if the Mets at least plan to try to resign Stroman.

Mack Ade said...

Stroman is already bragging what his value is going to be in the free agent market.

He's history.

Raw said...


I can not understand all of the safety requirements that the MLB & MLBPA require in order to play. No high fives, no hugs, coaches distancing themselves, umpires distancing. I hear that all other sports with much more contact are resuming soon and these sports have much more contact than baseball. NBA, NHL, NFL practices, college football practices. I haven’t heard about any kind of 75 page document that these sports have come out with that the players have to agree to,

If you can not get major league players to play why not let the minors play to people can see baseball again in this country. Some of the summer leagues are starting up. Most of the time these minor leagues teams play in rural areas of the country where there is a lot less cases of the virus. Stadiums have plans for social distancing any having 25% of the fans in stadiums. In addition it would allow for all major league teams to see there minor leaguers developing.

Very frustrating season for baseball fans in this country. I may have to watch summer college baseball. I read yesterday that a lot of the divion 1 college players that were going to play in the Cape Cod League are finding other leagues around the country to play. Baseball players want to play,

Mack's Mets said...

Hope the Mets (whoever the owner is) can find a way to keep Stroman. Fans can hope.

Mack Ade said...


This is all about value.

Question: What if you were under contract with Mack's Mets and it runs out at the end of this year.

Then Mike Steffanos offers you 10 million more a year to write for him.

Are you going to remain here out of loyalty?

Tom Brennan said...

Stroman May well turn into Go Man.

Raw, I agree with all you say. One of the biggest risks is going from one location to another. Have 4 teams stay in one city (say virtually COVID free Binghamton) for three weeks straight, playing each other. Then shuffle the teams elsewhere.

Mack Ade said...


If baseball has to go through all that to produce games this year, it only strenthens my desire to shit can the entire season.

Mike Steffanos said...

Sorry, John. I'm thinking $5 million is as high as I can offer, but maybe I can talk A-Rod into kicking in the other 5 mil

Mack's Mets said...

Wow, very tempting. Maybe Mack will offer arbitration.

Mack's Mets © 2012