Thursday, November 7, 2019

Future MLB rule changes pose a distinct threat to the Yankees

The View from 314 Ft website has a nice rundown on MLB rule changes taking effect next year, with potential impacts on the Death Star. Nothing slaps us that won't hit everyone else, but two minor tweaks to the Matrix could alter Cooperstown Cashman's winter. 

First is the addition of a 26th man on the playing roster, with a limit to the number of pitchers, at 13. This means contenders can add, say, a late innings base-stealer or a third catcher. But tanking teams - (and these days, that can be a quarter of the franchises) - will have extra space to stash low-level minor leaguers who are picked in next month's Rule 5 draft. It's a rotten abuse of the system, so pungent that it will surely grow. As contenders with an especially deep farm system, the Yankees are sitting ducks.

In the next few weeks, Cashman will finalize his 40-man roster for the Rule 5 draft. Between now and then, expect him to flip players for obscure rookie league prospects, who don't need to be protected. In recent years, this has become a rite of November. This year, it could be especially heavy.

A second change requires relief pitchers next year to face at least three batters before being yanked (unless the inning changes or they are injured.) This would seemingly end the grand tradition of the LOOGY - the Lefty-Only bullpen slot. Over the years, that post has generally eluded Cashman. The last great Yankee LOOGY was Graham Lloyd, and if it seems like a millennium ago, it was. The closest we had last season was Tyler Lyons, now a free agent. In theory, this change won't hurt us. It could even help: Imagine Yankee Stadium erupting when a relief pitcher comes in, clearly rattled, and walks his first batter - with everyone knowing he cannot be pulled. Then again, imagine having to watch the bad-hair day Luis Cessa pitch to three batters... agony!

One other potential change needs our attention. MLB's contract with the players union ends in 2020, and early talks suggest a bloodbath. The union is muy pissed off at how the owners created a de facto payroll cap, via excessive luxury taxes. They won't get fooled again... maybe.

Baseball America reports that in MLB's early proposal, the owners want to scrap 42 minor league franchises nationwide. They would basically eliminate the lower tier of every farm system. It's surely just a bargaining chip, but such a change would permanently alter baseball's unique ties to pastoral landscapes and small town summer nights. Of course, why should the owners give a damn? Billionaires don't live in cow towns.

The gutting of farm systems would hurt the Yankees perhaps more than any other franchise. Today, with eight domestic teams, the Yankees have contractual space for 285 players. The MLB proposal would cut them to five teams and 150 players... just like everybody else. 

If there is hope for a Yankee resurgence, it would have to be in the depth of our system. If MLB chops it to bits, kiss the future goodbye. The Yankees will go the route of the Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers and everybody else. Playing in Gotham brings extra stresses, temptations, expenses, dangers and distractions - the kind you don't get in smaller markets. Thus, their teams actually have an advantage.

Rest assured, MLB is working tirelessly to turn the Yankees into the Kansas City Royals. I wonder if, someday, Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner will wake up to find the value of his franchise just dropped by 20 percent. It seems impossible, doesn't it? Then again, we're living in a time when crazy shit is always right around the corner.


13bit said...

MLB is getting to be a real drag.

JM said...

The fish rots from the head down.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for posting that.

If you think that cutting down to the forty creates a feeding/trading frenzy imagine what happens when the Yankees have to go from 285 to 150. 40 of those are the MLB roster so it's really only 110 minor leaguers.

Your talking 135 players getting released at once and that's just on the Yankees. Yikes!

Worse... Now draft picks and 16 year old international bonus babies will have to take the slots of AA players etc.

The end result will be a worsening of the game. As these kids get less instruction and have more pressure to "put up numbers" . More emphasis on HRs and less doing the little things it takes to win that don't show up in the stat line.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Two possible good things...

Was there any mention of actually PAYING the remaining 110 minor league players a real wage? That would be nice.

This could be the return of independent leagues and teams because it's not like those ballplayers are going to go away.

Overall I think it's a HORRIBLE idea!

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Fantastic piece, Duque—really astute. And it just shows how much MLB reflects the general pathologies of our political and business cultures.

Everything now, no concern about the future, stupid fixes for what shouldn't be problems in the first place. The "three batter" rule is inane, one more sign of how the owners—and, to some extent, the players—have let the game get out of control.

The way the minors should be reformed is to have all of each team's minor leagues—except the really low levels—near to the major-league team. And all minor leagues should be clustered together, making for manageable bus rides and letting young players get some sleep.

It's as if MLB has a death wish. Though really, it's just one more iteration of capitalism reduced to immediate profit and endless conflict, no thought for customers, employees, or the quality of the product itself.

And the owners? Yeah, they'll be surprised when it finally implodes. But I imagine they will take their mountains of cash and quickly transition to running soccer leagues or those ridiculous video game competitions.

When that finally happens, though, it will be a good thing. The game will be left at last to those who know and love it.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Oh, and hey, on loogies: you're right in general about the Yanks.

But let's give Coops his props on one thing. Damaso Marte, after an awful regular season, rebounded in the 2009 playoffs to play a key role in winning our last ring.

In the ALCS and the World Series, he pitched a total of 4 innings, surrendering nothing and striking out five.

That's right: 12 up, 12 down. With Ryan Howard retired again and again and again.

Did Coops learn a greater lesson from that performance? No, of course not. But it was fun while it lasted!

ranger_lp said...

NY Penn League would be affected by this...SI Yanks, Brooklyn Cyclones, HV Renegades...

JM said...

Giancarlo Stanton is recruiting Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg to the #Yankees

God help us.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Hey, give Giancarlo a break! He likes to watch good ballplayers, too, when he's in the whirlpool or on the massage table.

Anonymous said...


I have a transcript of a portion his recruiting pitch.

"and the best part is you don't even have to play!"

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Ranger, that's maybe the one thing that will save the current system. HAL's probably thinking, 'There goes my free money from Staten Island. And hey, not even the suckers who run the City of New York are going to just sit there and watch that ballpark rot. They'll stick an independent league in there—maybe even a soccer team!—and cut into my profits all the more.'

JM said...

Doug, that thought did cross my mind, too. Hoss also has a good point.

Oasisdave said...

Read Gardy and Yanks discussing new contract. Ugh

HoraceClarke66 said...

Hilarious, Doug K.!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Also, that Bronx Pinstripes site reports that Giancarlo is "already working out for next season."

Great, just what Stanton needs: more workouts. He should be popping hammies by January.

Anonymous said...

"imagine having to watch the bad-hair day Luis Cessa pitch to three batters... agony!"

Except that, during this year's playoffs and down the stretch run also, Luis Cessa was like Mariano Rivera compared to one Adam Ottovino! We should give Cessa a chance to take on bigger roles in 2020. He has great "stuff".

The Hammer of God

HoraceClarke66 said...

One other thing: I know that everybody is always SAYING we have incredible depth in the farm system. But do we really? I mean, there's the much-ballyhooed, first-round draft pick catcher who's barely played in two years, Estevan Florial and the Very High Ceiling, a bunch of chronically injured pitchers, and the 16-year-old in the DR who has already been proclaimed to be the next Joe DiMaggio.

That's it—not so much as a promising outfielder left, otherwise. I don't know how much we really have to fear anymore from the notorious Rule 5.

Matt P. said...

Shout out to Mike Myers who was a pretty decent LOOGY (Lefty One Out Guy) for 06-07. Got that eerie Halloween music when he warmed up too.

13bit said...

Dead-on, Hoss. Our farm system has been drained for at least a year and a half. That's how Crackhead Cash pulls off his deals.

Anonymous said...

2016 Prospect Watch

2019 Prospect Watch

Compare and contrast.

Doug K.

13bit said...

I compared, Doug. I compared.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty stark.

Doug K.

Anonymous said...

MLB needn't worry about turning the Yankees into the Kansas City Royals. Cashman already has that one well in hand.

Isiyku Abdulahi said...

I really want the world to know about this great man who brought back happiness into my life again after my husband left me and the kids 3 years ago for another women online when i contacted Dr Believe he cast a love spell for me within 48 hours my ex husband start calling me and begging for forgiveness for everything that have happened between us. I was so happy to have my family back together with love again here is the email of Dr Believe via a man with the great powers you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2348156148821
God bless you
I am very grateful for your help in my marriage.