Indians P Andrew Miller, a prominent voice in the union, said that he "hopes that MLB's plan to introduce a pitch clock" this season "doesn't lead to a 'big fight or some sort of ugly showdown,' even though players are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea," according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Miller, one of four elected MLBPA reps, said, "We want games to be quicker so it doesn't have an effect on viewership. We get it. We're in the entertainment business, and if we're not putting the best product out there, we're at fault and we need to make an adjustment. I think we all accept that we can be better with pace of play and make the game more appealing to viewers." But he added, "We're just not necessarily for the changes MLB wants to make to get to that end goal. A lot of guys don't like the clock, and I don't disagree, personally." Miller: "This is not something we want to turn into a big fight or some sort of ugly showdown about us trying to make a point. MLB thinks they have a way to speed up games. It's really important to them. They've made it abundantly clear. We just don't necessarily love the way they're doing it" (ESPN.com, 1/19). In Denver, Patrick Saunders noted several Rockies players also had a "skeptical eye" to the some of MLB's proposals. Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado said, "I’m not too fond of trying to make too many changes in the game. Baseball is a slower game, it’s a slower-paced game, that’s just what it is. I think when you try to make too many changes, I think it can cause problems." Rockies CF Charlie Blackmon: "You are asking guys who have been playing the game at a high level their whole lives, to do something completely different. So I’m going to be resistant to change right out of the gate, no matter what it is" (DENVER POST, 1/21).
MEET ME AT THE MOUND: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Cwik wrote MLBers have "legitimate concerns about how the rules will impact the game." Astros P Lance McCullers Jr. tweeted, "You can't limit mound visits, especially from the catcher, when everyone is using adv tech to steal signs. You have to change them too often to try to keep things as 'even' as possible. And I'm not talking about signs when a man is on second" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/19). However, Red Sox Chair Tom Werner said, "It's pretty clear that there’s too much dead time in the game. It’s really not about pace of play but trying to have less dead time." He added that it "would be 'common sense' to cut down on trips to the mound by the catcher or manager." Werner: "I’m hopeful the union and owners will come together on this. I think it’s something that the fans are expecting" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/20).
MAKES SENSE: In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been "trying to find ways to improve pace of play," and implementing a 20-second pitch clock "seems like the easiest solution at the moment" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/21). In N.Y., John Harper wrote the implementation of a pitch clock "hardly seems worth getting into a big fight about." It is "silly because a 20-second pitch clock is a logical start toward speeding up the action, which most everyone agrees would be a good thing, yet it’s not likely to have any sort of dramatic effect on the way major league games are played." There is a "strain in relations between players and management/owners that some fear could lead to at least the threat of a work stoppage" when the current CBA expires in '21 (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/21).
MARKET MADNESS: ESPN.com's Buster Olney noted many factors have contributed to MLB's "stagnant winter market, from the impact of the luxury-tax threshold to the growing trend of teams opting to be really bad rather than merely mediocre (i.e., tanking)." Another is that three of the teams with the greatest resources -- the Dodgers, Cubs and Yankees -- are "run by baseball operations executives devoted to efficiency" (ESPN.com, 1/21). Rangers President of Baseball Operations & GM Jon Daniels said, "The market, for whatever reason -- for a variety of reasons, probably -- has moved much slower than usual. By just the number of players out there, not just the free agents but a number of trades conversations still ongoing, I would expect that between now and Opening Day things would change somewhat. How much and when is a little hard to forecast" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/21). ESPN.com's Olney noted the working relationship between the MLBPA and MLB "might be at its worst since the labor stoppage" of '94-95. Some agents believe the union will continue to "entrench on issues such as pace of play in order to register unhappiness over the stagnancy in the free-agent market." If that theory is accurate, the "strategy makes no sense." The idea that the "market slowdown is due to collusion, some longtime agents believe, is laughable." One agent said, "I don’t think for one instant that this is collusion. (The union) negotiated the terms of this CBA, and it’s up to us (the agents) to adjust and give the best possible advice to our clients based on the market" (ESPN.com, 1/21).