Wednesday Evening Poll: Prospect Playing Time in 2016

Yesterday, Baseball America released their list of the top 10 prospects in the Texas system. Previously, Nomar Mazara had been the top prospect on many lists, but now, Lewis Brinson has leapfrogged both Mazara and Joey Gallo to claim the top honors in the Rangers system.

That got me to thinking about 2016. More specifically, the fact that Josh Hamilton is already dealing with knee complications on his surgically-repaired knee. So it's poll time!

Angels Fan Site Fires Editor- Where's the Accountability?

Late last night, SB Nation's Angels fan site, Halos Heaven, had a post up in which the author, known as "Rev Halofan", took to blasting Josh Hamilton in the most unprofessional way I can recall reading anyone blasting a professional athlete. The post has since been taken down, but a transcript/screenshot can be found here, if you didn't get a chance to catch it. Of note:

I can only hope that when you do yourself in, which you will, that, mercifully, like (Steve) How, you take nobody else with you.

Good bye Josh, today is the first day of the rest of your life and you used it to announce to the world that nothing will ever be your fault. Happy snorting.

There's anger and resentment, then there's something else entirely. This piece fell into the latter category. For their part, SB Nation took the piece down and has released a statement in which they have apologized for the content and announced that they have relieved "Rev Halofan" of his duties.

On one front, there are those that are criticizing the very nature of blogging in general, that perhaps it provides too many liberties that a mainstream media outlet might not have. On another, we've seen plenty of "mainstream" media members make fools of themselves from time to time.

To me -- and this is just my opinion -- the fact that a site with so much traffic allows authors to go by nicknames instead of their real name just rubs me the wrong way. It's not something I feel terribly strong about, but in my mind, if you're someone that wants to write content of this nature, at least have the courage to put your name on it. To be clear, I'm not saying that the author's real name should be released now, after the fact, but it'd certainly be nice to see something more than a nickname publishing content for a large media company.

That may be oversimplifying it a bit, but it's honestly the first thing that jumps to mind. For all we know, "Rev Halofan" could come back to the site under some other name, and we'll never know it. We'll never know if he ends up writing for another outlet, and there will never be a real name attached to the immature hate and ignorance that was spewed on a platform that gets enough readership for this incident to end up on Deadspin. For a piece that was targeted toward Josh Hamilton's accountability, there's no real accountability when write under nicknames, and to me, that's a very real problem.

New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Just Doesn't Get It

Rob Manfred is MLB's new Commissioner, and he gave his new world order in an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech on Sunday.

In what could be considered baseball's state of the union address, Manfred offers hot takes on a gaggle of issues, such as his relationship with Alex Rodriguez, PED testing, pace of play and the future of the game. 

On pace of play (emphasis mine):

Our society is a very fast paced society; attention spans are shorter. And I think it's really important to us, at least symbolically, to say to fans: we understand that you want this to move as quickly as possible, and we're going to continue to modernize the game without harming its traditions in a way that makes it more enjoyable and more in tune with the society we live in.


I'll give you a great example: You know in the Arizona Fall League we used clocks, pitch clocks, inning clocks -- you know we had some very traditional people involved in that process. When they saw the clock out there, and saw the impact it had on the way the game played, they're amazingly positive about that potential change.

The concern for pace of play in baseball has gained traction, for whatever reason, over the last couple seasons. It's a complaint voiced more in the media than from the fans, as attendance is higher now than it's ever been even in spite of the hitting crises MLB has on its hands. Pitch clocks, despite their best intentions, will be an absolute bitch to enforce and it's honestly hard for me to envision a high-leverage situation, let's say in the postseason, where the bases are loaded in a tie game and a pitcher gets ball four called on him for a delay of game. 

You know what I'm saying? 

Later on, Rob Manfred and Karl Ravech had a back-and-forth about the idea of outlawing defenses from shifting, something Manfred believes would help generate more offense:

RM: Eliminating shifts, I would be open to those sorts of ideas.

KR: The forward thinking, sabermetric defensive shifts?

RM: That's what I'm talking about, yes.

KR: Let's eliminate that?

RM: Mmhm.

KR: So all the work that the Cubs and/or Angels or whoever has done, you're willing to say, 'I appreciate that, good idea, but it's killing the game' in a sense?

By this point it should be pretty clear: Manfred wasted his platform. He doesn't have a friggin' clue.

As Craig Calcaterra writes: "What’s really hobbling offense — and making the game one of increasing inactivity — are the massive increases in strikeouts. I don’t have any game film or spreadsheets ready at the moment, but last I checked a shift doesn’t affect strikeout rates."

It reminds me of something Joe Sheehan wrote the other day in his newsletter, describing MLB as "viciously darwinian". The game with literally no known place of origin, only myths. It's okay to be a forward thinker and look for news ways to improve the game (which is how the game got to where it's at), but it's also okay to admit that banning defensive shifts is anti-intellectual, penalizing the research and hard work of countless individuals over the last two decades. In his first major interview as Commissioner, Rob Manfred would like you to know that he is in favor of stunting the progress Major League Baseball has made over time between the lines. 

He wants you to know that, after being voted in to be Bud Selig's successor on August 14th, the Great Baseball Problem he's deduced in five months is: Offense is broken, and the way to fix it is to eliminate the shift, without even acknowledging the real source. Strikeouts. While shifts affect, what -- two-three hits per game? -- they can't turn an extra-base hit into an out; home runs are still home runs. And strikeouts will continue to be strikeouts.

There are easier ways to improve offense in baseball without harming the actual gameplay on the field (like pitch clocks and limited defensive shifts). Shorthand, Brandon wrote briefly yesterday about the strike zone, saying it's "increased by almost 10% since 2008." Thanks to better pitch-tracking from places like Brooks Baseball, it's been easier to see the biases home plate umpires carry -- like the wide outside corner to lefties -- behind the plate. Robot umps would be ideal, but since it took until 2014 for expanded instant replay to be utilized, I'm not holding my breath as far as that is concerned. 

Another decent idea (which isn't mine) to increase offense is to implement a minimum number of hitters a pitcher has to face; barring injury, of course, if MLB made a rule saying each reliever had to face at least 3 hitters, or 5, or what have you, it would do away with platoon relief pitchers and reward those who can get out both lefties and righties at the plate.

These don't save pace of play, but it's reasonable to assume a tightened strike zone and fewer pitching changes -- eliminating pitchers from maxing out on 5 or 10 pitches a night -- would increase offense, giving franchises something to negotiate around in free agency and the trade market. 

It's obvious baseball has a problem on its hands. More runs need to be scored. I understand this, you understand this, so does Rob Manfred, but if his first interview as Commissioner told us anything, it's that he has no idea how to fix it.

The Baseball Hall of Fame Debate

The Hall of Fame is something I've long had trouble fully wrapping my head around. There are so many angles from which to approach the whole debate that I've oftentimes found myself throwing my hands in the air and giving up on any and all discussions regarding the subject. And it seems like it happens every single year. So this year, I thought it was cool that a fellow writer had some new and unique thoughts on the process, many of which I actually agree with.

Patrick Despain, formerly a writer for WFAA, has started posting up his baseball thoughts on his own site now, and he had a piece up today in which he talked about the entire voting process and threw out some ideas on how to begin "fixing" it. With that, I'll encourage you to click the link. Really, do it. Even if you don't agree with all of the ideas presented, that's what this is all about, right? Throwing ideas out and discussing them. Patrick has had some great content in the past, and this one is no exception. So I reiterate, check it out.

An Update on Jurickson Profar

It's been a really bad season for Jurickson Profar. He may not have had bad season on the field, but the fact that he hasn't even had a season due to a shoulder injury might just be worse from a developmental perspective.

That's why today's checkup, reported by Evan Grant, might just end up being one of the most positive developments of the 2014 season in regards to 2015. Profar will undergo a followup MRI on his shoulder to determine how well it has healed.

Assuming all goes well, he may be cleared to begin swinging a bat. The idea is to get him geared up to get some action in the Arizona Fall League.

A healthy Profar in 2015 might be one of the most important pieces to the Rangers returning to contender status. Before his injury, he was projected to be about a 2.7 WAR player, which would certainly be and upgrade over the replacement-level production the club has had from the 2nd base position this year.

So, with that said, cross your fingers for good news.