The Rundown: MLB Mulls Beer-League Contrivances, Cubs Trade Donnie Dewees for Alec Mills, Brian Wilson Attempting Comeback
With a few possible exceptions, nothing good ever comes from “Let’s see what it looks like.” But that’s how Joe Torre, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer, chose to lead off his justification for implementing experimental extra-innings rules in rookie ball for the coming season. Already part of international play, the proposed changes involve starting each inning after the 9th with a runner on second base.
“It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch,” Torre lamented. “As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”
Yeah, here’s the thing, Joe: it is super fun to watch utility infielders and backup catchers pitch. It’s maybe the most fun thing because — and this is important — it’s a rare and unexpected treat that can lead to wackiness. Listen, I get the deal about trying to prevent these marathon games and appealing to kids by improving pace of play and whatnot, but how about we don’t start games so damn late that not even adults can stay awake through regulation? That might be a good idea.
“It’s baseball,” the former Yankees skipper continued. “I’m just trying to get back to that, where this is the game that people come to watch. It doesn’t mean you’re going to score. You’re just trying to play baseball.”
Whoa, whoa, back the truck up. You’re saying putting a man on second in extras is getting back to baseball? If that’s the case, what in the blue hell have we been watching for the last forever? I’m cool with eliminating the need to throw four bad pitches for an intentional walk, mainly because that’s sort of like the sport’s equivalent of Antonio Alfonseca’s extraneous digits. But this new contrivance feels too much like the beer-league rule aimed at trying to clear teams from the field in time for the next game to start.
I just fail to see how this measure accomplishes the most important of its aims. Hey, kids, if you stick around for the first 3+ hours, you might get a see an inning start with a man on second! Isn’t that keen? Sure thing, Mr. Torre, almost as great as when my parents tried to rap in order to reach me on my level.
If you really want to appeal to The Youth, maybe it’d be a good idea to not have a 76-year-old man coming up with ideas for how to do so. Crazy, right? Maybe conduct polls or solicit input from Little Leaguers. Or maybe — and this is a stretch — market to them. Have you seen the spots they run during MLB games? It’s nothing but a parade of boner-pills and Budweiser.
Fiesta forever, but be sure to contact a doctor if your perception lasts more than 4 hours.
Whether the kids like it or not, the players are going to have to buy in for this thing to work. Most batters are upset about being intentionally walked, so you think they’re gonna be cool with starting the inning on second base without having a bat in their hands? Pitchers should be even more upset about the idea of making it easier to score runs. For more on their reaction, we turn to special correspondent, Noah Syndergaard:
— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) February 9, 2017
Donnie Dewees traded for Alec Mills
It seems like only yesterday I was agreeing with someone’s assessment of Dewees as a potential breakout prospect in 2017. And he still might be, just not with the Cubs. That’s because he’s now part of Kansas City’s system after being traded for righty Alec Mills in a deal that was announced Wednesday evening.
This looks like one of those moves that works for both teams: the Royals get a speedy player with decent contact skills and the Cubs get a flex-type pitcher with solid K/BB ratios. This also fits the Cubs’ MO of dealing from a strength to bolster a weakness. Outfield depth isn’t a problem in Chicago’s system, but pitchers haven’t exactly been coming up by the truckload.
Mills had been designated for assignment to make room for Jason Hammel shortly before the trade was announced, which may indicate that the two sides had been engaged in talks for a little while before everything went down. In that regard, this looks a little like the Eddie Butler deal the Cubs recently pulled off. Expect to see Mills to join Butler in the mix for that extra starter/bullpen depth role taxiing from Iowa to Chicago this season.
You can learn a little more about the Cubs’ newest addition from Brendan Miller’s piece that followed the trade, but I’ll address a few things here as well. Mills has been a high-K guy throughout his MiLB career, but he doesn’t appear to have a really high ceiling. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhangen — which, by the way, is a fantastic surname — projected Mills (you’ve got to go beyond the top 20 to see it) as a swing starter/middle reliever due to his lack of excellent control.
As we’ve seen so many times before, this is a matter of the Cubs gambling on a guy with potential in the hopes that he’ll provide more value than would the player(s) they traded away. Hey, I think this thing’s skipping, can someone put a quarter on it? Wow, that metaphor is totally lost on anyone who never played one of those crappy little records that were super thin and would warp really easily.
In order to make room on their own 40-man roster, the Cubs designated lefty David Rollins.
Brian Wilson trying to become knuckleballing starter
This might be the coolest thing I’ve read in a while. Rather than lying in bed, Wilson, the former Giants reliever with the massive Just For Men’d beard, is trying to come back as starter by using a knuckleball. He’s also ditched the beard, which is weird and prevents him from loading the ball up with all manner of foreign substances that might have been hidden in his facial fleece. Unlikely as it is, some desperate team needs to make this happen.
This, Mr. Torre, is what the kids want to see. Brian Wilson on the mound throwing knucklers would make every fifth game a beautiful spectacle and I’m all for it.
More from the Cubs and around the league
- Javier Baez (Puerto Rico) and Hector Rondon (Venezuela) have been named to their respective countries’ WBC rosters.
- The Indians are interested in Chase Utley, according to Jon Heyman, which totally makes sense because they don’t already have a really good lefty-hitting 2B named Jason Kipnis.
- Henry Sembdner, the young man who had been hospitalized after being brutally assaulted at school, is home. Anthony Rizzo has been active in supporting Henry and his family throughout the ordeal
- Visit the CI Shop and buy a t-shirt or five, just be sure you’re able to have a little fun with things.