Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

I don’t want them forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me. -Hank Aaron

08 Feb

Notable Rule Changes in Baseball

Every year, there is a host of proposed rule changes, some of which happen and some of which don’t. This year, if you’ve been paying attention, there are some minor rule changes like increasing the netting at stadiums, but the biggest rule change is a pitch clock. Since that rule change doesn’t appear likely, Manfred has said that if the average game time doesn’t reduce to 2 hours and 55 minutes, they will implement the pitch clock. The three main objections to this rule change are similar:

-“The game is fine just the way it is.”
-“Why are we catering to mainstream baseball fans that are not as passionate about the game?”
-“The game needs to be played in its original form. Stop changing it!”

There’s some validity to the first two statements. Maybe the game is fine the way it is. Revenues are up, franchise values are up, player salaries are up, and there’s no real analytics that say the game is imminently in trouble. And perhaps it’s true that baseball shouldn’t make rule changes that alienate its loyal base to chase other bases. I disagree with both of those points, but they’re very fair and valid points.

The third one is just not true. This is not the same game as the one originally played. There have been consistent changes to the game of baseball since 1857. For humor, I want to list some of the more interesting rule changes since the beginning of ball, provided to you by Baseball Almanac’s Baseball Rule Change Timeline:

1858 – The baserunner is no longer required to touch each base in order.

Could you imagine how that would play out?

1863 – The pitcher is no longer allowed to take a step during his delivery and he had to pitch with both feet on the ground at the same time.

Jordan Walden would have been a legend in mid-19th century baseball.

1885 – Chest protectors worn by catchers and umpires came into use.

That was probably a good move.

1887 – Five balls became a base on balls.

More than 5 would be a little excessive.

1887 – The batter was awarded first base when hit by a pitch.

No more freebies, pitchers!

1901 – Catchers were compelled to remain continuously under the bat.

No bathroom breaks.

1925 – The minimum home-run distance was set at 250 feet.

I’m actually not sure what this means. The shortest “porch” I can think of was the Polo Grounds, but it had a right-field wall 257 feet from home plate.

1959 – Regulations were set up for minimum boundaries for all new parks, 325-400-325 feet.

It’s hard to cry “keep the integrity of the game” when we still aren’t playing on the same fields, and it took this long just to establish some legitimate parameters for the dimensions of the field.

1971 – All major-league players were ordered to wear protective helmets.

Like increasing the netting, this has to file under “Why Did It Take This Long?” It would seem to be a no-brainer to put protective helmets on the noggins of players, but the game was around for over a hundred years before this went into the book.

To be fair, people who want the game to change as little as possible can easily point to the fact that we haven’t needed to make any significant changes to the game in the last half-century. But to say we are playing the same game as we had from the beginning, well, that’s not true.

143 Responses to “Notable Rule Changes in Baseball”

  1. 1
    Donny Says:

    I don’t think a pitch clock is the solution. Nope. The real solution is to stick with the reliever you brought in. Let him get clobbered. It’s good for the game. No pitch clock is going to undo all the time wasted on your sabermetric-driven decision to go through 3 arms to get through an inning of baseball.

    Problem solved.

  2. 2
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Five. Subs.

  3. 3
    Sean Q. Says:

    I agree with Donny. Limit pitching changes per game or per inning if you want to shorten the games. Please keep clocks out of baseball.

    The fact that baseball measures itself in outs and innings, completely outside the strictures of time, is arguably the most beautiful thing about its design.

  4. 4
    Sean Q. Says:

    This list is also missing the last major rule change: the DH in 1973.

  5. 5
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    No pitch clock, no substitution limitation. Resist all temptation to millenial-ize this game.

  6. 6
    coop Says:

    Nice post, Rob. Thank you.

  7. 7
    Nick Says:

    I think the pitch clock is a good idea. I also like Sam’s five subs idea.

    The fact of the matter is that something has to change. Last year’s postseason was pretty much unwatchable with all the pitching changes. The game is already changing, but the rules aren’t changing along with it, and that’s an issue.

  8. 8
    blazon Says:

    Man bites Dog

    Yasiel Puig
    in a case of extreme agent fatigue
    they have just fired his ass
    on any particular day that rarely comes to pass.

    From conversations earlier this week on MLB it appears that the most usual commission for an agent would be 4%. Interesting, never knew that. On a multi year deal such as Puig’s which has some time to run the question then arises all up front or graduated? In another universe if Harper gets his 400M contract there’s 16M to argue about there. Pretty good parental justification for choosing schools/colleges etc that use wooden bats.

  9. 9
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Ignore Chief. Baseball needs to have fans after his ancient ass keels over.

  10. 10
    Seat Painter Says:

    I’d like to see a pitching appearance limit, say, no more than 4 or 5 appearances in any 10 game stretch, or something like that. You’d see a greater emphasis on the ‘old style’ reliever, like a Gossage or a Fingers, who could go multiple innings.

  11. 11
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    Millennials. Whatever. I was listening to Brad Lidge, who, sadly, is a complete idiot, on MLB Network Radio say, “Why do we care about millennials? They don’t have any money anyway.” Well, gee whizz, I’m over selling a lot of real estate to millennials, and the ones that don’t want to own a home say that it’s because they prefer more discretionary income for entertainment. Not sure I’m buying that millennials don’t want to watch a ballgame when soccer is the fast-growing sport in America, and it’s being fueled significantly by increases in millennial interest. Yeah, let’s keep marketing the game to people that spend more time on the golf course, and let’s see where that gets us. Because golf is doing really well too.

  12. 12
    blazon Says:

    The Braves, somehow, need to get Liberty out and Elon Musk in. On the next launch an Acuna look alike in the convertible, a tomahawk held high and Wagon Wheel in a continuous loop on the stereo. Millions and Millions of years. What a guy.

  13. 13
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    I was right there with you until “Wagon Wheel in a continuous loop”.

  14. 14
    blazon Says:

    $13
    the Southern connection. We have one member here who claimed a while back he must have heard it 200 times. Hard to turn off up there.

  15. 15
    blazon Says:

    @9

    Twice, in 2 weeks, same target, why? Gratuitous, ad hominem, unpleasant. Does it occur to you there are many others here who react instinctively to that, are equally offended? Bully boy.

    You write so much else so well here, get off that horse.

  16. 16
    Jay Says:

    The game needs to be played in its original form.

    Well, the pre-1864 game is pretty great, and it’s kept alive by some of us dedicated fans. The vintage game predates one of the biggest rule changes: the elimination of the bound rule. Before that, the striker was out if a fielder caught the ball on one bound. Which is a pretty useful rule when you don’t play with gloves …

    If you’re around Nashville, Knoxville, or Chattanooga, you can come out for a Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball game and see some of this in action this summer. It is truly one of the most fun things I have ever done. I’m 4 seasons in, playing for the Phoenix Club of East Nashville.

  17. 17
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    There should be a game every year where the game is played with pre-1864 rules.

  18. 18
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Add my name to those who really don’t like personal insults directed towards other commenters on this board.

  19. 19
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Also worth remembering that the New York game was NOT the only early baseball game. The Massachusetts game was very different, too.

    I wrote about some of that along with the early rules here: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/anniversary-of-a-myth-the-knickerbockers-most-famous-game/

  20. 20
    snowshine Says:

    1925 – The minimum home-run distance was set at 250 feet.

    This was required because it was still standard practice in the world series and other “big” games to rope off part of the outfield for increased seating capacity.

    Edited to add: Beside, we all know anything less than 322 feet is an infield fly…

  21. 21
    Donny Says:

    @10 I would focus the rules on the game and not the players.

    What I’m thinking goes something like this: if a pitcher enters the game, he must face at minimum 3 batters before he can be replaced, or he may be replaced if he happened to end an inning (thus allowing him to be pinch hit for). I think this will help to close the gap on relief specialists and adds additional risk on knee jerk pitching changes to go after a certain batter coming up to the plate.

    I’d rather watch a pitcher battle to try and get a hitter out than watch a team cycle through the roster creating ideal matchups.

  22. 22
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    I am also 42 which is only old when compared to Neanderthals life spans.

  23. 23
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I hate references to “millennials.” Not simply because it’s lazy, grumpy-old-man thinking (which it is.) But because it’s demographically meaningless. The term literally includes everyone from 35 year old portfolio managers and marketing consultants with 10 years experience through to 14 year olds entering high school next year. It’s too vague and general to mean anything.

    Half of the regular contributors on this board are millennials. Do they not watch baseball? Do they not spend money on baseball?

  24. 24
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Limiting relievers (or just subs) would also decrease strikeouts. Pitchers who have to face more than two hitters don’t come in throwing 400 mph every pitch. God. I sound like Don Sutton.

  25. 25
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    Yeah, I yelled at my radio when he said that. Then, it was replayed that night, so I almost had to listen to that drivel again when I got in the car later. It’s just not true. I’m sure a simple Google search will show studies outlining that this game isn’t competitive with other entertainment options for people that don’t want to sit around and watch 3+ hour games. And I almost want to call BS on the people who say they’re sitting around watching 3+ games on the regular and wondering if they are actually 1) regularly watching network televised baseball games, 2) buying MLB.tv or 3) have season ticket packages. I have a feeling a bunch of people fighting against the pace of play stuff aren’t actually consuming baseball games regularly. Some of them are probably freeloaders.

  26. 26
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    I know Chief digitally outside of here, and he’s not “Old Man Yelling at Cloud”. I just think he’s wrong. :)

  27. 27
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I’m sticking with old man yelling at cloud.

  28. 28
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I wouldn’t be so reflexively dismissive if we would be more specific about generational terms. “Millenials” (people born between 1981-1997) are absolutely spending money and buying baseball. (They’re also between 21 and 37 years old.) I think what people are talking about here is probably “Generation Z” (1998-2010) or “Alpha Generation” (2011-present.)

  29. 29
    Nick Says:

    Yeah, just telling an entire generation to screw off seems like a brilliant strategy, especially when the generation after that is even going to be further down the same road, in all likelihood. Someone should thank Brad Lidge for his brilliant analysis there.

    The further issue is that games last longer and have way more dead space now than when Gen X was the generation that old people were blaming everything on, so it’s not even an apples to apples comparison. That “millennials don’t have attention spans” is almost beside the point. Even if that vast over-generalization is largely true (and a soccer game lasts two hours, which is way longer than most YouTube videos, last I checked; NBA games are around 2:15, and that’s the other sport that “millennials love”), that doesn’t mean that baseball games aren’t too long in their current form.

  30. 30
    Donny Says:

    @28 Ehhhhh…. maybe. I think this millennial generation has a reputation problem that is not going to be lost easily. We were the ones fussing about being saddled with student loan debt. We were the ones asking for bail outs and loan forgiveness. We’re also known as the generation that prefers renting to owning and began the migration back into the urban areas so we could get our Starbucks lattes and bagels. I know too many people from college who can’t afford the loan for a newer car but are gladly paying out $40+ every week for coffees. Please keep in mind that I say this while I prepare to buy land and do some home construction. I think there’s truthiness to the millennial reputation and as always there are exceptions like us.

    EDIT: I don’t mean to sound like I’m tooting my horn up above. I really prioritized paying off my student loan and auto loans. I work a lot of hours, prefer to eat meals cooked at home, and refuse to drink expensive coffee beverages. It’s been my goal to own some land and not live in another HOA-infested sub-division. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  31. 31
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    There is only one generation that I want to screw off, and it is “Cardinals Fans.”

    (As an old Millennial and a person who believes that the chestnut that within-groups variance is almost always greater than between-groups variance can be applied to just about anything, I think that the generation signifier will never feel right to me, someone who has always spent my time looking up to Generation X, even though it is almost certainly reasonably analytically useful. Analytic frames hardly ever feel right to the people they describe because no one ever agrees with the level of abstraction applied to make their existence useful in a dataset.)

  32. 32
    Nick Says:

    I cosign AAR’s parenthetical addendum.

  33. 33
    Donny Says:

    @29 I remember people saying baseball was too boring back when Maddux could toss a complete game in 2 hours. I can’t fathom how you guys could watch a 3 hour baseball game. I have to confess I’ve barely watched a game in years and haven’t watched the Braves consistently in a decade.

  34. 34
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I’m fully on board with the general statement “generational labeling is stupid, lazy and dumb.” I mean, I’m as Gen X as the Winona Ryder tattoo on Johnny Depp’s arm (cover-ups are a lie!) but I can recognize the pure pop bliss of a TaySwif tune, right? I’m fully on board with not using generational labels at all. I mean, I don’t love Bono or anything, but I sure as hell feel more connection to U2 than I do my “generational cohort co-member” Keith Urban. I mean, Keith Urban? Why?! Why?! Why?!*

    My point is that I can’t sign on to any argument that says “the game of baseball must be locked into the current configuration of rules and practices because young people are stupid and dumb and poor to boot!” As the entry we’re commenting on points out, the game has evolved a gazillion times over the years, and every time it was going to be the End Of Baseball to hear the old men tell it. And yet, baseball persists.

    I would personally like to see two very simple rule changes going forward. First, restrict video review to only boundary calls.** HRs. Fair/foul. No review of tags. No review of catches/traps. No robot umps. Second, limit the number of replacement players a manager can use to five per game, thus limiting the endless stream of one batter relievers in the last three innings without creating other detailed rule-writing conundrums about usage, etc.

    *this is a Nancy Kerrigan reference. Anyone who watches that Tonya Harding biopic should realize that it’s absolute bullshit propaganda and girl totally paid her bodyguard to whack her competition in the kneecap because she knew she couldn’t win otherwise.

    **I strongly support the elimination of video review in all sports at this point. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We were wrong.

  35. 35
    Donny Says:

    @34 My chief problem with the game of baseball as its played today is I don’t think I like it anymore. I’ve stayed on board thinking that it might just be because the Braves suck, and I need to stay on the bandwagon as a true fan. I’ve followed the sport for most of three decades now, and I’m pretty sure I like it less than I used to. I’ve tried accepting that I might be biased against changes and need to give them a chance. No, I’m pretty sure baseball is less likable than it once was, and a pitch clock is not the solution.

    It pains me to say it, but the sport is getting too smart for its own good.

  36. 36
    blazon Says:

    @31

    Alex…’Cardinal fans’- most certainly.

    what was beneath it had me grasping for straws.

    your parenthetical addendum
    i really could not comprehendum
    but after four or five more reads
    your message pops and then succeeds.

  37. 37
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    You’re not wrong, Donny. The advent and adoption of advance analytics has created a more efficient, effective game. That is damned near impossible to watch.

  38. 38
    Seat Painter Says:

    Sam,

    What would the 5 sub rule do to a team’s roster construction ideas? If you’re limiting them to 17 players/game (if you hold one back for injury replacement), then you’ll have 8 players almost never seeing the field. Do you really think the MLBPA will agree to that?

  39. 39
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    The only rule change that I’d like to see is either the NL add the DH or have the AL eliminate it. I’d like to see rosters expanded from say 25 to 28 or 30. This might have unintended consequences and turn more RPs into LOOGYs or ROOGYs, I suspect.

    Bring back bullpen carts to save time on pitching changes.

  40. 40
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I’d be open to negotiating up to 7. Maybe. Preferably not. There’s no reason a sub limitation would reduce the 25 man roster, and thus the number of MLBPA members being employed by every team. It *would* make the manager’s decisions to use relievers in the 5th or 6th much more meaningful. It would make people capable (theoretically) of pitching two or three innings out of the pen – say Mike Minor or Scott Kazmir – much more valuable. It would reduce the value people would be willing to spend on guys that can only get LH batters out. It would make Martin Prado and Omar Infante types way more valuable, and make useless third catchers or guys that sit on the 25th spot with their MI glove and never play…well, more or less the same.

    In the aggregate I don’t think it negatively impacts MLBPA earnings. It redistributes it a bit, but that always happens anyway. And it would make the game much more watchable.

  41. 41
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Trailing thought: we already have 5 slots on the current roster builds who aren’t going to see a game on any given day (barring 18 inning craziness.) The four other starters, and at least one reliever who has pitched a couple of days in a row previously. so now you’re down to 19 roster spots, of which you can use 17 in a game (with five subs.)

  42. 42
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    There’s maybe 45-90 seconds per game that could be saved by re-establishing bullpen carts. The problem is usage, not how long it takes to get from the pen to the mound.

  43. 43
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    If they really wanted to bring fun back to baseball, they’d bring back the Rock ‘n Jock game. It’s not like Dan Cortese has anything better to do.

  44. 44
    Nick Says:

    @42

    And the TV networks would still got to commercial during that time, anyway. I think it would save precisely zero time unless they plan to cut down on commercials.

  45. 45
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The primary culprits of ever-extending game times are 1) reliever usage (and the warmups each of them take), 2) slow working pitchers (every pitch of every game is treated as a do or die event that requires deep planning with the catcher), and 3) batters not getting in the damned box.

  46. 46
    atlcrackersfan Says:

    In the spring of 1916, an Atlanta newspaper, I don’t remember if it was the Journal or Constitution, quoted Crackers manager Charley Frank complaining that games were taking to long at 2 hours. Frank believed the spitball was the culprit. (which was outlawed shortly thereafter but had no impact on the length of the game).
    I agree that 3 hours for a game is to long, but then I’m of the opinion that a 1-0 game is the perfect baseball game.

    Sports teams, not just baseball, feel compelled to entertain those in attendance, but are seemingly afraid to let the game provide the entertainment.
    Grumpy old fan comment, sorry!

  47. 47
    Donny Says:

    @46 But you’re not wrong.

    And I too think a 1-0 game is a masterpiece, especially when it doesn’t require 5 pitchers to do it.

  48. 48
    krussell Says:

    I’d be ok with them changing pitchers mid at-bat if they would just make the transition more efficient. What other sport allows for “warm ups” while the game is going on? Replacement shortstops don’t get to take 5 fungos when they enter the game mid-inning. Replacement outfielders don’t get a few practice fly balls. Pinch hitters don’t get practice at bats. Why on earth do relievers get 8 warmup pitches? Get ready in the bullpen. Or don’t. Your choice. When you enter the game, the first pitch is live. Problem somewhat solved.

  49. 49
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    In prospect news, it looks like Aaron Blair has lost a ton of weight:

    https://twitter.com/Blair_Force1/status/957747945679581184

    Also, Kyle Muller, who you may remember from my draft write-ups (I know you hang on my every word) was a two-way player taken in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft. He’s struggled to get on the mound much his first two seasons (27.2 IP in 2016 and 47.2 IP in 2017), but Drive Line Baseball posted that he’s hitting 95 MPH and looks good. Joey Wentz, taken behind Muller in that draft, was in Fangraph’s top 100, and if Muller can pitch a full and effective season at A-, he could find himself on some of the top 100 lists.

    Both of those guys, while they may never pitch an inning of playoff baseball, can help us get to the playoffs.

  50. 50
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    WOOOOOOO!! I have a pool with some very old imaginary internet friends who argue about baseball as to when the first official “In The Best Shape Of His Life” story will go to press. I think this Aaron Blair thing may get me the kitty this year!

  51. 51
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I’ll also point out that in Sam’s MLB World, players like Kyle Muller, players who can contribute from the mound and in the box, would be SUPER VALUABLE. A sub who could pitch and fake RF, or pinch run then pitch, would be very convenient in 5-sub-land.

  52. 52
    krussell Says:

    Would be nice if your LOOGY could also rake and play RF.

  53. 53
    Adam R Says:

    I don’t want to harsh the flow of this conversation, but I just want to make sure people saw the write-up Cristian Pache got in the Fangraphs Top Prospects list.

    They gave him a 55 (with high variance).

    “Pache drew a $1.5 million bonus as a 16-year-old in 2015. He’s a perfect example of the reward in signing a top July 2nd prospect, as his tools have taken a huge step forward since signing: his run grade jumped from 60 to 80, his arm from 60 to 70, his raw power from 45 to 55, while he’s also become arguably the best defender at any position in all of minor-league baseball.

    “The only issue for Pache is tweaking the mechanics of his swing. He needs to lift the ball more and have a stronger base to tap into some of his power and allow his athleticism to play. These are fixable things, he’s just turned 19, he has plenty of hitting tools to survive until this point on them alone. The Braves rave about his makeup and coachability, while his athleticism would be world class in any sport. With little improvement, he’s a Kevin Pillar two- or three-win type defensive specialist and his upside is a six-plus-win type perennial All-Star.”

  54. 54
    blazon Says:

    What’s the Rush?

    Think of the things you really like doing in life and consider a common element they share-a leisurely pace. Do this and your position on relievers, clocks, golf carts etc may change.

    A good meal…we savor it, don’t bolt it. A great wine, a single malt. Sipped.
    A good movie/book…that feeling you don’t want it to end. Why would we?
    Good sex… We never rush that, do we?

    And then we have baseball, in the particular Braves Baseball. The Ultimo. Two hours or three? I’ll take the over.

  55. 55
    Edward Says:

    @53, Excellent. It’s too bad Martin Gandy is winding things down on his blog. Reading about Pache’s growth is exactly the kind of thing I would turn to him for first.

  56. 56
    Smitty Says:

    I would like to see a pitcher have to face a minimum of two batters, unless:

    – The pitcher forces the last out of an inning
    – An injury

    Then have a pitch clock on how much time they have to warm up once they come in the game

  57. 57
    Kirk H. Says:

    Any rule changes should be geared towards improving pace of play. This may have the effect of shortening games, but keeping the action going should be the main goal. With that in mind:

    Pitch clock: yes, throw the damn ball

    Stay in the box: yes, hit the damn ball (or at least try)

    Don’t allow warm ups from mound (unless injury): yes, warm up on your own time

    Limit mound visits: yes, having unlimited timeouts is ridiculous

    Substitution limit: no, a blunt instrument that could have unintended consequences

    Carts: whatever, not that consequential

  58. 58
    cliff Says:

    Anybody know how to access chat wraps on Keith Law? I have ESPN Insider and have roamed around that site and can’t find the recent chats (since 2015).

  59. 59
    ryan c Says:

    @55
    As hard to handle as some of the guys are over at TC, they should be your first go-to now as they’re the ones that are watching the closest these days. I joined Tommy at WOW because he became mine outside of TC. He’s always level-headed and doesn’t let recency bias sway his thoughts too much.

  60. 60
    krussell Says:

    I’m supposed to be excited about an CF that can’t hit and needs 4 more years in the minors? I guess talk him up more so we can trade him.

  61. 61
    blazon Says:

    @58

    http://meadowparty.com/blog/

    …have no idea what meadow party is but this gets me there for his blog every thursday, it’s up there now. Not an Insider.

  62. 62
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I’m supposed to be excited about an CF that can’t hit and needs 4 more years in the minors?

    You mean a high ceiling prospect in CF who may not be ready until 2022, or as some call it, the last year of Ender Inciarte’s current contract?

  63. 63
    Adam R Says:

    The thing that makes the Fangraphs write-ups especially good is that one of the guys worked for us before producing them.

    I think we’ll enjoy watching Soroka: “The Canadian righty has a background playing hockey and has the frame and demeanor to be a defenseman in the NHL. The Braves challenged the polished sinker/slider standout with a 2017 assignment to Double-A at age 19. He excelled while also developing a changeup that was above average to plus to match his high-spin-rate two-plane breaking ball. Soroka likely gets an MLB look in 2018 at age 20, and while the upside isn’t frontline (he sits just 90-94 mph), you could argue everything he does is above average to plus.”

  64. 64
    Dusty Says:

    Pace of play:

    Love the limiting subs idea, but to me the biggest problem is mound conferences and batters stepping out of the box (and to some extent, pitchers stepping off the rubber). In the World Series last year, McCann went to the mound seemingly before every hitter. This needs to stop. The other ideas mentioned here are fine, but I would say to the hitters that once your at bat starts, you stay in the box (with the obvious exception of foul balls). This would do wonders for the watch-ability of the game.

  65. 65
    Remy Says:

    Everybody’s freaked out about the other team stealing signs, that’s why there are so many conferences on the mound.

  66. 66
    Donny Says:

    @64, @65 I would like to see MLB address this for sure. Already, coaching visits to the mound are limited, so it sounds like the catcher visiting the mound needs to be limited as well. I agree that once an at bat has started the hitter must remain in the box — one foot out of the box to straighten the helmet or whatever is fine. Two feet out of the box should count as an out. Don’t voluntarily leave the box unless you’re headed to first or back to the dugout. :)

    If catchers and pitchers are worried about stolen signs, then give these guys smart watches and let them send signs that way. To my knowledge, nothing is stopping this. Just make it fast, whatever it is.

  67. 67
    Donny Says:

    @57 I don’t think warm ups from the mound would be an issue if it only happened a couple of times per game on average. *smirk*

    I think pitchers deserve to test out the mound before going into a live game. Baseball certainly doesn’t need more pitcher injuries.

  68. 68
    Nick Says:

    @66

    I think an automatic out is a bit much, but an automatic strike (which could lead to an automatic out some of the time, I guess) is perfectly reasonable. And yeah, we shouldn’t be held hostage for an extra half-hour per game because everyone in baseball is deeply paranoid about sign-stealing. Either get a better system for signs or just deal with it, one or the other.

  69. 69
    Rob Cope Says:

    Joe Girardi has recently joined MLB Network, and he was talking about how rampant sign-stealing has been in baseball. And since he’s just started in his TV gig, I think he was more blunt about it than he will be in the future. He advocated ear pieces if the pitchers could do it so that him and his pitching coach could continually talk to the pitcher. The mound visit existed because there was no other way to talk to the pitcher except screaming, “HEY! PITCH HIM INSIDE!”. Nowadays, we should be using the resources at our disposal to make it more secure, more efficient, and increase the amount of communication available. Everybody wins.

  70. 70
    Rob Cope Says:

    Yes, you should care about Cristian Pache. There could be a bit of a goldrush from the prospect people to pick The Next Braves Prospect who comes out of nowhere like Acuna, and that could cause people to go crazy over a particular prospect. But if you watch the highlight videos, he’s extremely athletic. Range, arm, overall foot speed, you can clearly see he just needs to add a little power to his game and he’ll be impressive.

  71. 71
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    People have been stealing signs for the entire history of the game. Making a catcher’s visit to the mound equal to a coaching visit is fine with me.

  72. 72
    krussell Says:

    @70, I’m not getting excited about a 19 year old with no power. At best he’s miles away from the majors. There’s a lot of baseball to watch between now and 2022. Let’s hope there’s more to keep our interest up than this.

  73. 73
    Rob Cope Says:

    https://www.mlb.com/news/predicting-the-braves-25-man-roster/c-266154114

    Sam, this is the most official of the “best shape of his life” posts. Peanut has Blair in the pen citing his weight loss.

  74. 74
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @72

    Okay. You do you, buddy. You do you. Other people on Braves related forums will undoubtedly discuss Pache and his potential. Try to live with that, man. Just try.

  75. 75
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Why is there a “Rob Cope” half the time and a “Rob Copenhagen” half the time? Is this like another “seventy three members of this board are named ‘Alex R'” type of deals?

  76. 76
    krussell Says:

    @74, I am discussing Pache, right here, on Braves Journal. His potential is whatever we can trade him for. I hate fast toolsy players that can’t hit. So should anyone that wants this team to win.

  77. 77
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    K. You do you, buddy. You do you.

  78. 78
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Some things are built into the game that will always keep it exciting.
    for example, the distance of the bases are perfect. A soft grounder and a fast runner make an exciting play at first. Ditto with the throw down on a steal.
    any change that would reward athleticism or guile will always be welcome with me.

  79. 79
    krussell Says:

    Doing other people would be rude. Fun. But rude.

  80. 80
    Adam R Says:

    I don’t know how someone reads that write-up of Pache and comes up with “can’t hit.”

    Kind of like with Chief and Albies, what are some of you going to do when any of the Braves players that you’ve committed yourselves to Hating On The Internet actually succeed and help the team? Are you gonna keep rooting against them? Is your enjoyment of the team diminished?

    I imagine there are some butthurt Astros fans out there right now, grumbling on their team’s blog that Yuli Gurriel doesn’t hit enuf homerz for a 1B.

  81. 81
    krussell Says:

    Wait I’ve never hated on Albies…

    750 pro ABs, 0 HRs. That’s almost impossible. He may turn into Willie Mays one day. But probably not.

    I’m rooting for our franchise to put together a winning team before Pache can legally buy beer here.

  82. 82
    Braves14 Says:

    Albies has developed some power.

    Olney says we are interested in Ed Nunez.

  83. 83
    Rusty S. Says:

    If anyone has any ideas on how to increase the pace of winter, then I think we’d be on to something.

  84. 84
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    I just want to keep you on your toes, Sam.

  85. 85
    Nick Says:

    @80

    I feel like you’re kind of being willfully obtuse as to what us impatient people want. We just want to win…I feel that’s pretty obvious. Nobody here hates Christian Pache, like, as a person or anything. If he comes up to the majors and rakes, nobody is going to be grumbling about him because they were less than excited with a Fangraphs write-up four years prior. We are sick of losing and want to win as soon as possible, and therefore don’t garner a whole lot of joy from Fangraphs write-ups of years-away prospects. It’s nice that Pache is well-thought of, but that’s not gonna help us in the immediate future unless it’s via trade (which I’m not necessarily suggesting we should do, by the way…it’s just that by definition, he doesn’t help at the major league level until he’s called up unless he’s traded for a major league player). It’s also nice that you are excited about the write-up, the point is just that he isn’t helping us win until 2020-something. I would like to win before that.

  86. 86
    Donny Says:

    @83 Move further south. That’ll speed up winter for ya.

  87. 87
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Apropos of nothing, going to arbitration with a guy over $100,000 when he’s your #2 starter is dumb as dirt. Just give him the money. It’ll barely put his kids through a couple of years of Pace Academy.

    http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/22384331/pitcher-mike-foltynewicz-atlanta-braves-go-arbitration-100000-gap

  88. 88
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    Folty was on Twitter defending his decision to do so. Can’t say I disagree. I’ll send the thread when I find it.

  89. 89
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Possible outcomes for Christian Pache:

    1. Fails to develop power, current hitting skills fail to transfer to MLB. CodeName: BecomingMallexSmith

    2. Fails to develop power, hitting skills translate enough to be a superior CF defender in MLB. Codename:BecomingJarrodDyson

    3. Develops power. CodeName:BecomingByronBuxton

  90. 90
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Oh, I don’t blame Folty for holding the line — he’s the one working for the money! I blame the team for needlessly antagonizing a guy who they need to be a big contributor over such a tiny amount of money.

  91. 91
    Adam R Says:

    @85, Wait, so you’re saying…you’re tired…of losing…and you want to…win?

    For everybody’s benefit, let me pre-cap this conversation, for the millionth time.

    You say, “I want to win already.”

    I say, “I don’t think winning is possible right now, given current constraints. One way to try to win now would come at the expense of a longer period of potential winning in the very-near-future. I don’t think taking from that future to give to this present would result in us winning now anyway, and I don’t want to do that.”

    You say, “But it IS possible to win now and win later.”

    I ask you, “How?”

    And you say nothing.

    You could let loose a “BIGGER LIBERTY MEDIA BUDGET” primal scream, I suppose.

    You could even hit us with “THAT’S HOW I FEEL. I’M ENTITLED TO MY FEELINGS.”

    But you say nothing.

    Later, when — much like a small child who isn’t getting his way — you lose patience again, the cycle begins anew.

    From my perspective, all I see are a bunch of people who can’t let one goddamned opportunity go by without informing us all that, yes, you are still miserable because the team isn’t good.

    Thank god that more free agents haven’t signed this offseason because some of you might have resorted to self-harm by now. Out here crying over Carlos Santana and a guy who chose to restrict his market to NYC.

    We get it. We get how you feel. Is that all you want? Because I, for one, don’t care! I don’t care. I do not care how you feel.

    I do think the psychology of all of this interesting. Was interesting. Is on the verge of tiresome, but still vaguely interesting.

    It’s interesting to see people’s motivated reasoning take them from “I am unhappy the team is bad” to “The rebuild was a bad decision” to “I hate our prospects who are not Acuna, and I will ignore Acuna because he doesn’t fit into my narrative that everything is bad” to “I cannot let the posting of one positive write-up of a prospect go without commenting that THIS DOES NOT SOLVE MY UNHAPPY PROBLEM.”

    You know what? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  92. 92
    Adam R Says:

    RE: Folty, the Braves management are joining arms with management everywhere right now.

    Folty is the exact wrong type of player to play these mental games with, by all accounts. But there are bigger forces at play.

  93. 93
    JonathanF Says:

    No mention of the giant 1968 change: standardization of the height of the mound, which meant lowering it almost everywhere. Easily the biggest change in my lifetime.

  94. 94
    Rusty S. Says:

    There should also be a Robo Cope.

  95. 95
    Nick Says:

    I think I’m beginning to suspect that Adam is a Braves front office plant.

    Is it honestly that hard to figure out that I want us to sign a free agent third baseman?

    I also don’t recall saying anything about Pache until you tried to make fandom contingent on whether or not one is super fired up about a Fangraphs prospect write-up.

  96. 96
    csg Says:

    Just saw this

    Former Braves RHP Williams Pérez accidentally killed Cesar Quintero, 52, a former baseball coach while he was training in Portuguesa. Quintero got shot accidentally while Perez was giving his gun to the former coach.

    😳

  97. 97
    Braves14 Says:

    I think we should go get a bat to play 3rd. If Riley continues to hit then move him to LF when he is ready.

    Johan Camargo is a utility player and Rio Ruiz is a 4A player.

  98. 98
    krussell Says:

    No no no guys. We have one of the worst teams in baseball, but every position is accounted for already. Nowhere to improve. Just accept it. Next year we sign Harper and Kershaw with that sweet Battery money.

  99. 99
    Adam R Says:

    A Braves front office plant would care how you felt, Nick. I don’t.

  100. 100
    Ethan Says:

    @91 – I dont really disagree with you, but I find it somewhat surprising you can be so declarative given the inherent informational asymmetry. IE: you don’t know what free agents are asking, you don’t know what payroll flexibility AA has, you don’t know what players may or may not be available in a trade, you don’t know what prospect capital teams would be asking in return, etc, etc

    What it ultimately seems to me that you’re suggesting is that because AA has the information we’re generally not privy to and hasn’t done anything to make the team a contender this year, there correspondingly isn’t anything to be done (that wouldn’t also sacrifice a longer term contention window). At this point, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t think it’s a given (at least to the extent you seem certain of).

    Regardless, while AA didn’t create the current state of the organization, he did knowing take responsibility for it, and part of that is the expectations of a fan base who have had to deal with 90+ loss teams the past three years. While I don’t know anyone who will demand his head/quit on the team if the Braves suck next year, I also don’t think it unreasonable that many may not be overly excited at the prospect of a 4th straight sub .500 season.

    The fact that such concerns would be expressed at a water cooler such as this one seems almost a given to me, and at minimum understandable.

  101. 101
    snowshine Says:

    So, which one plugged the coach? Bill or… Bill?

  102. 102
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    Our old friend Bo Porter left his role in the FO and will be overseeing/managing/coaching the unsigned players at their own spring training. You can’t make this crap up. I might have to head 30 minutes to check this thing out.

  103. 103
    beege Says:

    @94 I don’t know how many service industry folks we have around here but I certainly appreciated that. Unless you are saying there should be a robot version of all of us, which I’m also into.

  104. 104
    Phillip Says:

    https://www.yahoo.com/sports/report-cubs-pitcher-involved-accidental-shooting-killed-former-coach-030332238.html

  105. 105
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    You understand that robo-Sam is a direct evolutionary path to Ultron, right?

  106. 106
    Td Says:

    So the Braves are going to arbitration with Folty over $100k – the smallest gap since 1994. Why?

  107. 107
    Ethan Says:

    @106 – Precedent for future arbitration negotiations is the only logical thing I can think of. Still seems stupid to me though.

  108. 108
    Robo S. Says:

    Hmm, a robot version of all of us you say.

  109. 109
    coop Says:

    The Three Laws, quoted as being from the “Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.”, are:
    1.A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2.A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3.A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

    Sounds a bit civilized for Braves Journal.

  110. 110
    Nick Says:

    @105

    I don’t think there’s anyone here that doesn’t understand that, Sam.

  111. 111
    Nick Says:

    In regards to going to arbitration over $100,000, it’s really stupid on the team’s part. And I suspect it will wind up being an arrow in the quiver of the players should these collusion complaints actually go anywhere.

  112. 112
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    I think the owners have emboldened each other to take the steps against the players they’ve wanted to for a long time. Watching Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez hold their teams hostage because of their contracts with countless additional examples now leading up to Giancarlo Stanton has got to stick in the craw of owners. They would probably say that’s the tail wagging the dog, and they probably don’t want to get to where things are in the NBA. Instead, they’d probably like to see a situation like in the NFL where most players are discardable the moment they become worth less than they’re being paid. For those that have managed or owned business, you know that the first thing you want is control. There are already so many things that you can’t control; you need to be able to control what you can control.

  113. 113
    Nick Says:

    That’s definitely what they want, but I don’t see any way the MLBPA lets MLB become the NFL.

  114. 114
    Adam R Says:

    I dont really disagree with you, but I find it somewhat surprising you can be so declarative given the inherent informational asymmetry. IE: you don’t know what free agents are asking, you don’t know what payroll flexibility AA has, you don’t know what players may or may not be available in a trade, you don’t know what prospect capital teams would be asking in return, etc, etc

    Anybody who pays attention can get a good enough idea of all of these things to make educated guesses that bear themselves out over the course of the offseason. We know how a normal free agent market works. We know what similar players have signed for in other offseasons. We can piece the puzzle together from past Braves payrolls, Braves front office comments, what the Braves typically like to leave aside for in-season moves, etc, etc. We can look at the rosters of other teams and say, hey, Clint Frazier’s probably available.

    It’s really not that hard. The Braves even made a fairly significant move this offseason that kind of reveals the whole playbook.

    What it ultimately seems to me that you’re suggesting is that because AA has the information we’re generally not privy to and hasn’t done anything to make the team a contender this year, there correspondingly isn’t anything to be done (that wouldn’t also sacrifice a longer term contention window). At this point, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t think it’s a given (at least to the extent you seem certain of).

    Well, there is also this whole big labor/management dispute that’s also happening. I would think it’s fairly obvious that given EVERYTHING we know about this offseason, both within the Braves and in baseball overall, it wouldn’t be surprising if AA “did nothing.” Like he has some kind of magic wand or whatever. But what do I know, I’m the one who’s not ignoring threats of a work stoppage over a frozen free agent market, and yet I’m the one who’s willfully dense for not insisting that we DO SOMETHING ALREADY, right?

    …Actually, right now, AA is in a sort of public negotiation with Eduardo Nunez that Braves Journal, I would argue, isn’t paying enough attention to. AA probably senses some desperation and is seeing if he can get Nunez’s price down to one year.

    In some sense, it’s probably good that some here are too busy soiling themselves on the internet to follow what’s happening. Because AA’s public-facing excuse for not going to two years is one that’s not going to make these very diaper-clad Braves fans happy — the excuse is Austin Riley. But that’s a bargaining position. And we can surmise from the Braves’ previous comments on Riley that they’re not actually banking on Riley to pan out. I imagine part of the reason the Braves are trying to bargain Nunez down below what is IMO a fair price for his services is the need for our 3B to be a player more like Josh Donaldson or Manny Machado, and AA is going to need as much flexibility as possible to make that happen. AA doesn’t want to overpromise to Braves either.

    So, I’m actually not sure that I even agree with the premise. AA is trying.

    Regardless, while AA didn’t create the current state of the organization, he did knowing take responsibility for it, and part of that is the expectations of a fan base who have had to deal with 90+ loss teams the past three years. While I don’t know anyone who will demand his head/quit on the team if the Braves suck next year, I also don’t think it unreasonable that many may not be overly excited at the prospect of a 4th straight sub .500 season.

    The fact that such concerns would be expressed at a water cooler such as this one seems almost a given to me, and at minimum understandable.

    And what I’m saying is, we’re past the point of “almost a given…and at minimum understandable.” To me, when the team looks to be headed into an upward trajectory, given that this persistent pouting is some people’s response to just about everything anybody has to say about the Braves, it has now reached the point of overkill.

  115. 115
    blazon Says:

    Adam R
    we all observe a most prolific avatar
    he accentuates the positive
    feels that itself dispositive.

  116. 116
    Nick Says:

    @114

    1. It’s not an upward trajectory until we start winning on the field IMO. (Yes, I know…you don’t care and think that’s stupid. I think it’s stupid that you would think we’re headed upward while we still suck on the field. We’re clearly at an impasse on this point.)

    2. You’re assuming we’ll be able to outbid people for Donaldson/Machado and/or convince them to come here in a free agent market where everybody is flush with cash and throwing money around. I’m just not super-convinced that we’ll be able to fend off the Yankees and Dodgers and Mets and Nationals and whoever else and do that, and therefore am not convinced that putting all our eggs in the 2019 free agency basket is a great idea. I would be genuinely interested in seeing your thoughts on this, and on what happens if we don’t get one of these big signings from the 2019 free agent class.

    3. I would be pleased if we signed Eduardo Nunez. And you’re right, I do think Austin Riley is a crappy excuse to not do it (or to let him walk away if he doesn’t go down to a single year).

  117. 117
    Rusty S. Says:

    @114 – It’s always good to have a periodic reminder that anything the front office (or manager) says in public is liable to be posturing.

  118. 118
    Ethan Says:

    Darvish to the Cubs. 6 years, $126 guaranteed. Perhaps the rest of the SP dominoes will start to fall.

  119. 119
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    United kick off in Nashville for their first preseason match in 30 minutes. Return to your regularly scheduled episode of “waiting for a management resource from a corporate organization you have zero influence with to sign new talent that you want” if you like. I’ll be watching Miggy and Josef do that thing they do.

  120. 120
    Adam R Says:

    @116,

    1. Our record improved last year, and it’s projected to improve more this year to 75 or 76 wins. We’ll see how it goes, but I am pleased that after having promoted Albies, who would’ve been baseball’s top prospect if he retained eligibility, we still have baseball’s top prospect to graduate in Acuna.

    2. The Dodgers, Nationals, and Mets are set at 3B in 2019. We’ll see how Miguel Andujar does, I suppose. By going in on Eduardo Nunez, we’ll have insurance — a 2 WAR policy! — against not landing Donaldson or Machado, or Austin Riley establishing a higher ceiling. Austin Riley himself is also something of an insurance plan, but I acknowledge that we are going to need a 3+ WAR player at likely two of 3B, LF, or C if we want to be contenders, so I would expect AA to swing a trade using our prospects to get there if need be. That is my expectation. Maybe the Reds make Eugenio Suarez available. Maybe the Mariners make Kyle Seager available. Maybe the Rockies make Nolan Arenado available (probably not, and we’d have him for just one year). We’ll have options.

  121. 121
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    That seems like a real low price for Darvish — it’s just one year and $16 million more than Jordan Zimmermann got. He must’ve really wanted that no-trade clause.

  122. 122
    Nick Says:

    Well, the Braves won Foly’s arbitration case. Folty will make $2.2 million next year. Not really sure what to make of that, but there it is.

  123. 123
    blazon Says:

    @122

    If i know Folty he will be at the Porsche dealer tomorrow morning, his logic impeccable. Buying with house money that just happens to equate with a new 718 Boxster S with all the goodies. No folt insurance. Sweet.

  124. 124
    blazon Says:

    Uh Oh.

    I read wrong. So wanted him to win. Maybe he’ll go anyway. He made his point.

  125. 125
    Adam R Says:

    Even if AA doesn’t improve the team this offseason, weakening his old team is a nice consolation prize.

  126. 126
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    As a reminder, a group of BTF folks are meeting for drinks and dinner tomorrow after work. Krog Street Market.

  127. 127
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    MLB Network just had a prospect countdown show which had a highlight video of Acuna. I know chicks dig the longball, and I appreciate that, but when you start to think about the improvements we’ve made to the speed and defense of the team, things get exciting. Defense: Acuna over Kemp, Lane Adams as a defensive replacement for Markakis, Lane Adams as 4th outfielder all season (not just after his call-up last year), Albies over Phillips, Cargo/Ruiz over Adonis for part of the year, Culberson over Bonifacio/Jace/Santana, and you’d imagine Dansby improves his defense. Speed: Albies over Phillips, Acuna over Kemp, Adams over Jace/Bonifacio/Santana, Camargo over Adonis. The incremental improvements in those two areas are hard to concisely point vs. “We signed X big FA”, but they will have a tremendous impact on the team. Excited.

  128. 128
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Careful, Rob. You’re dangerously close to suggesting that rebuilding the team might have been effective, and that the team might improve simply by getting younger and more athletic, rather than signing Big Free Agent Name X (who is only a “big free agent” name this season because the free agent market actually consists of “Yu Darvish and a bunch of role players asking for 20 million dollars per year.”)

  129. 129
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    Well, I’m still in the “sign Eduardo Nunez” camp.

  130. 130
    krussell Says:

    Acuna was gonna be a thing whether we rebuilt or not. Never forget.

  131. 131
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    As was Albies.

  132. 132
    Adam R Says:

    @130, Sure, but who’s to say Acuna would’ve been our thing?

    Teams that put off rebuilding — look at the Giants and the Orioles hanging out in no man’s land with their middling projected win totals — trade their prospects (and also throw good money after bad) in order to try to keep up with other teams.

  133. 133
    blazon Says:

    @126

    video feed, any chance?

    @75
    Rob Cope
    at home posting his latest trope
    Rob Copenhaver
    at work, formal, coping, whataver.

  134. 134
    krussell Says:

    @132, I just don’t want the architects of “the rebuild” to get any credit for our two best position prospects, that’s all.

  135. 135
    Adam R Says:

    They should get whatever credit you think they deserve for:
    – developing Albies and Acuna
    – resisting the temptation to trade them

  136. 136
    Rob Copenhaver Says:

    Pretty low-hanging fruit there…

  137. 137
    Adam R Says:

    Maybe. But look at the Mariners, who gave up on Gohara on account of maturity issues. The Mariners are a good example of a team that has struggled to develop many of their recent prospects. It’s not nothing to get players to a place where they’re hitting their ceilings.

  138. 138
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Just ask Dansby Swanson.

  139. 139
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    Who has the highest career BA with a minimum of 50 ABs?

    Believe it or not Terry “Fat Tub of Goo” Forster who hit .397 in his career. He OPS’d .887. In 78 career ABs he amassed 2.2 oWAR. Swanson has amassed 1.3 oWAR in 617 career ABs.

    In 1972 with 19 ABs he hit .526 and in 1977 with 26 ABs he hit .346.

  140. 140
    John R. Says:

    Growing up on early 80s Braves baseball, a Terry Forster AB was Must See TV.

  141. 141
    Smitty Says:

    @134

    But maybe Coppy and Heart did a better job with player development.

  142. 142
    Tfloyd Says:

    @139–and no cheap hits either–he didn’t leg out any slow rollers

  143. 143
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    New thread.

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