2018 MILB Pace of Play Rules

S.Samek

Starting in 2018 Minor League baseball will have some changes to pace of play. The goal to make games shorter.

 
Games going into extra innings will start with a runner on second base. Mound visits will be limited as well with the number going down as you increase in level. There will also be a 15 second pitch timer.

 
I like the pitch timer and mound visit change. Let the pitchers pitch and see if they can get out of jams themselves. Especially at the higher levels, which is something they need to work on before reaching the show. Mound visits do take a while and cutting down on them should help.

 
I do hope the clock also cuts down on throws to first looking for pickoffs. Those are annoying if done so many times in a row.

 
Now I’m not a fan of the starting with a runner on base. It feels like a little league rule. If you want to get on base you have to earn it. That’s the point of the game. This kind of feels like each team touches the ball in college football overtime rule. I just don’t really like it. Makes it easier to score and if both teams start with the runner they can both score just as easily and keep extending the game.

 
Though it does increase the chances for walk off wins if the home team stops the visitors from scoring in the top of the inning. People love walk-offs so that could be cool.
I understand baseball is a long game and people don’t like the length.

 

Yet its what baseball has that’s different from other sports. Some games are longer, some shorter as there is no clock. Extra innings means more baseball. More baseball is good for the fans You get more for your money and people like that.

 
It’s an interesting set of rules. I’ll have to keep updated if they actually make games shorter.

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Chief Wahoo Two

S.Samek

During the Cleveland Indians run to the world series the chief wahoo controversy came up.

 

I was on the side of the coin that wanted to see the logo removed.

 
The time has finally come. Recently it was announced that after 2018 Chief Wahoo will no longer see time on uniforms.

 

 

I fully agree with this. Though sources say this may only come because of intense pressure from MLB, or the fact that the Indians will host the 2019 all-star game.
Either way its good to see the logo go. Put the uniform drama away and focus on the on the field product.

 
Would be interesting to see what replaces it, if anything. I think the red C should be sufficient though if not a bit boring.

 
Should be interesting to see if this triggers another wave of logo changes. I don’t see that being the case ,but it may happen.

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates Trades Cole/McCutchen

S.Samek

After not doing too much, so far in the off-season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made two deals in the past couple of days. These are headline level deals.

The first involves Gerrit Cole, heading to Houston for four players.

 
The first player and you could say headliner of this deal is Colin Moran. Moran plays both third and first base, but is looked to be inserted in the former. He ranks as the fourth best prospect in the Pirates system at the moment. He split this season at triple a and the majors. During his 11 games in the majors he hit .364 with a homer and three rbi. Moran was also named a midseason triple a all-star after hitting .308 with 18 home runs this season.

 

Moran should get the nod to start at third base, especially with the uncertainty of Jung Ho Kang. Granted he is unproven, but looks to have a strong upside as a former first round pick.

 

Two arms came to the Pirates in Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz.

 

Musgrove is a potential starter for the Buccos. In the major leagues he sports an 11-12 record and 4.52 era and was used primarily in the bullpen. However, he is another first round pick and a former top 100 prospect.

 

He won’t replace Cole, at least not this year, but could be a future arm to watch.

 

Feliz is a bullpen arm with numbers that don’t look good. He has a 5.13 era for 98 games in the majors. Yet he strikes out a lot of hitters. Feliz punched out 70 in 48 innings this year and 95 in 65 innings in 2016. The Pirates like him as a potential late-inning arm.

 
I could see this kid being a potential steal, maybe the next setup man, or closer for the Pirates. I like the upside if he can turn it around. His fast ball averaged 96 mph, so he could be a power arm for the Bucs in the future.

 

The final piece in the trade is outfielder Jason Martin. Martin becomes the Pirates 18th ranked prospect. He saw time at advanced a and double a last season, where he hit .278 with 18 home runs and stole 16 bases.

 
This is a good additional piece to the trade. He has some upside, but if it doesn’t pan out he wasn’t the center piece of it anyway.

 

Now Houston gets the Pirates number one starter in Cole. Cole is a good pitcher and at time dominant. He just isn’t an ace. This Season he went 12-12 with a 4.26 era. Cole allowed a career-high 31 home runs in 2017.

 
However, he was 59-42 with a 3.50 era while making 127 starts in five seasons in Pittsburgh. Houston gets an established veteran starter at the cost of a few talented, yet unproven youngsters.

 
This is a good deal for both teams at least on paper and should be interesting to watch.

 

Andrew McCutchen was the second big name sent packing as he was traded to San Francisco. The package the Giants are sending includes bonus money, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and pitcher Kyle Crick.

 

Reynolds was the Giants number four prospect at the time of the deal. He played at three levels of a ball this year with a .312 with 16 homers and 43 rbi stat line. He plays a bit of every outfield position. He also participated in the futures game this year.

 
I think this is a decent pick up. He is still a couple years away, but should make for an interesting prospect to watch.

 

Crick is another pitcher that saw time at triple a and in the majors this season. He was used in the bullpen where he put up a 2.76 era prior to his promotion. In the majors he had a 3.06 era with 28 strikeouts in 32 and one-third innings.

 
He is a former top prospect, but sits as number 16 in the current rankings. He could be another quality arm ready sooner rather than later for Pittsburgh.

 

McCutchen departs after hitting .279 with 28 homers and 11 steels last season. He was an anchor in the Pirates lineup and an MVP contender. He was the face of the franchise and a big part in getting the Pirates back to the playoffs.

 
He will be missed. However, I think if you want to respect McCutchen you let him play where he is wanted. He just isn’t at the level he once was and his fan support seemed to dwindle. This move lets him play for a contending team and Pittsburgh gets a couple players for the future.
Disappointing move yes, needed a second yes.
Overall, I think the moves look ok on paper and give me hope for the future, they just have to pan out.

 
Thank you, Cole, and McCutchen though for some great memories and good luck with your new teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates Organization All-Stars 2017.

S.Samek

The best minor league players in the Pittsburg Pirates system were honored with milb.com organization all-star status.

 

Infield

Today I take a look at the selection to see what’s good and who deserves their status.
At the Catcher Position you have Jacob Stallings. Stallings saw time at triple a and a very short stint in the majors. He hit .301 with 16 doubles, four home runs and 38 rbi.

 
Being as catcher is one of the weaker positions in the Pirates system and that Elias Diaz has graduated from being a prospect make this an easy choice.

 
At first base Edwin Espinal was honored. Espinal hit .294 with 15 home runs and 86 rbi. Both of these totals ranked near the top of the organization leaderboard. Sadly, they let him walk in free agency. Well-deserved all-star spot.

 
At second base it was Pablo Reyes. Reyes was an on base machine for the Altoona Curve with 115 hits and 51 walks during the season. Reyes may not be well known and plays at a position with more depth, but isn’t entirely out of the mix after a season like that.

 
At shortstop it’s Cole Tucker. Tucker saw time at high a and double a in 2017. Tucker hit .275 with six home runs and 50 rbi. Tucker also swiped 47 bases this season, up from just six last year.

 
Shortstop is a position of depth for the Pirates, but Tucker could still be that future shortstop for the big-league Pirates.

 

At Third base the all-star is Ke’Byran Hayes. Hayes is the fourth ranked Pirates prospect. While Hayes has been injury prone in the past this year was better. He played in 108 and hi .278 with two homers and 43 rbi. Good to see him get on the field healthy and showing his stuff.

 

 

Outfield

In the Outfield its Jordan Luplow, Chris Bostick and Edison Lantiqua.

 
Luplow was the Pirates minor league player of the year and saw time in the majors this year. He hit .302 with 23 homers, best in the system. Luplow could be in Pittsburgh to start next year and absolutely earned every accolade he gets.

 
Bostick had a good season despite no real expectations. He hit .294 with seven homers and 57 rbi with 33 doubles at Triple A Indianapolis.

 
Lantiqua played for Bristol this season, so he is unknown to most Pirate fans. Though he showed he maybe a future top 30 prospect by hitting .307 with four homers and eight steals during 48 games this season. He routinely topped offensive categories for Bristol this year and could be a breakout candidate in 2018.

 
At the utility position Albert Baur was selected. Baur played at West Virginia in the South Atlantic League and hit .298 during the season after spending two seasons in short season a ball. His campaign included 117 hits, 31 doubles and 65 rbi, all near the top of the Pirate system leader boards. Baur could be another unranked, yet sleeper player to watch.

 

 

Pitchers

The right-handed pitcher for the Pirates comes as no surprise, despite a talented system with plenty of depth at the position. Hammer Down favorite and number two Pirates prospect Mitch Keller earned the spot.
Keller made 23 starts, including six at double a. This included clutch starts in the double a playoff, where he went 2-0 with a 1.10 era. Keller is most likely going back to Altoona to start 2018, but after a stint in the AFL is primed to make a run toward starting in Pittsburgh real soon.

 
The best left hander in the system is Steven Brault. Brault is often time thrown in the mix as a fifth starter in Pittsburgh after making four starts and pitching in 11 games for the big club. He went 10-5 with a 1.94 era at triple this season. This earned him the Pirates minor league pitcher of the year award. Great pick for an all -star honor.

 
Tate Scioneaux was the all-star reliever for this team. He was Altoona’s closer after the promotion of Montana Durapau. He went 14 of 17 in save opportunities while pitching 83 innings with a 2.44 era. Scioneaux is another unranked prospect, but could surprise a lot of people if he keeps putting up good numbers.

 
Overall the list is pretty good. It’s just a little alarming that more ranked prospect don’t appear on this list. Though it adds some variety to the players to watch list.

To compare with the 2016 list check here.

MILB Rebrands for 2018

S.Samek

In this post I talked about the new names the Gwinnett Braves were considering. Now they officially have a new name: The Gwinnett Strippers.
The name comes from a popular fish in Lake Lanier.
The logo looks sharp with a red, green and blue color scheme. They even have an alternate logo with a worm on a hook. That’s pretty funny.
The logo set looks on pair with most minor league offerings. The name is unique, but not super over the top. It maybe doesn’t draw the attention of some of the wackier names, but does a good job of not being to pedestrian.
That and it gets another super common and boring Braves name out of the Atlanta System.

Speaking of changing names from that of the parent club, we have the former Tampa Yankees. They selected a team name from the history book the Tampa Tarpons.

The logo looks like kind of a generic fish. Though Tarpons is a cool name. Also points for how the Yankees color scheme looks so good in the main logo. Complete with a pinstripe background.

The Hudson Valley Renegades changed appreances as well. They now have another new set of logos complete with a raccoon swing a bat.
I must admit I don’t thing they really needed a change. To me the logos look a bit smoother than the old one, but don’t really change the brand with a must have logo for a hat.
Though I do enjoy how they have a set up for their season 25 anniversary by showcasing the team colors throughout the years in a set of three logos. They look very well done and impressive.

Speaking of sharpening their image we have the Augusta Green Jackets. The golf themed moniker gets a sharp new upgrade. This was due a long time ago, but as they are set to get a new stadium it’s the perfect time to adopt a new logo.

The little duffer bee dons a silly little gold cap in a mostly dark green logo. Its silly fun and looks good to boot.

So far, I am pleased with this years first wave of rebrands from minor league baseball. Interested to see what else is in store.

 

 

 

Sports Collections

Throwback to some of the coolest sports merchandise.

S.Samek

When I was a kid not only did I watch sports, I would collect them. Yes, I collected the standard baseball cards, but a couple other things too.

 
The first of which are the baseball helmets from Dairy queen. The ones that you could get when you ordered a sundae. It even had a display with each of the divisions, so you could keep the standings.

 
I have eight of them including a Montreal Expos one. They are still available, but maybe a bit forgotten about.

 
No doubt one of the most popular stadium giveaways of all time is the bobble head. A while back Post brand cereals took advantage of this by offering mini bobble heads of current MLB stars.

 
I remember always begging for the Oreo o’s or the like just so I could collect them. Even though most often the cereal became neglected after two, or three bowls and was left to become stale. Didn’t matter to me, I collected seven MLB stars, with a couple of them becoming hall of famers.

 
The final novelty I remember collecting is the mini team mugs. One could be had for .50 out of the toy machines at Walmart, or the grocery store. Yet again I ended up with seven from both the NFL and MLB.

 
They have come in handy too. I keep them on my baseball bat shaped shelf with a lot of my collectables and trophies. Actually, all the collectables mentioned in this post make their home on that shelf. Then I take my collection of baseballs and sit them on top of the mugs. Making for a pretty neat holder.

 
Note I didn’t and don’t collect these for the value. They aren’t worth much even several years after release. It was just a fun way to have merchandise from different teams.

 

 

 

All The Sports

S. Samek

October 19, 2017 just seems like any other Thursday. Life movies on as people look forward to the weekend.
Yet if you’re a sports fan this isn’t an ordinary Thursday.

Nope tonight you have your pick of MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA games to pick from. Yep all four major sports are in season on the same night.

 

This is what is called a sports equinox. An equal day for all four major sports. You can sit back and watch La and Chicago, plenty of NHL hock and NBA basketball as they get their seasons underway and The Thursday night matchup of Chiefs and Raiders. What to choose decisions decisions.

 

No This isn’t a common occurrence. Its happened only 17 times with the last one occurring on Oct 30 ,2016.

 

Though the funny thing is this could happen again soon. As early as Sunday October 22.2017 if the Cubs can force game seven against the Dodgers. Then in short order if game five the World Series is played it would happen again.

 

Very cool occurrence. I know I’ll be tuning into some sports today to celebrate.