NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin’s Korner: “Ch-Ch-Ch-Rule Changes, Tebow is Not A Major Leaguer

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MLB and Commissioner Rob Manfred are taking a page from the late David Bowie with the radical rule “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” that are being proposed for this season and the 2020 campaign.

For the upcoming season, MLB is proposing a much welcome reduction in the length of inning breaks, a single trade deadline of July 31st, that eliminates the August waiver trade period, a change in the voting for the All Star game and a $1 million dollar prize for the winner of the Home Run Derby.

Additionally, the number of mound visits will be reduced from six to five (although I don’t think any team exceeded the number during last season) and if the All Star game itself goes to extra innings, then a runner will be placed at second base to start the inning. That’s something that I’ve been calling for because the All Star game is a novelty that would welcome the gimmick of having a runner on second to start an extra inning. (Don’t worry, it will never be used in a regular Major League game)

The more radical changes are scheduled to be implemented in 2020.

Rosters will expand to 26 players (in the case of doubleheaders, teams will be allowed to add a 27th layer for that day) and in September, the number of players available will only increase to 28. Having 40 players on the roster in September was always a bad idea and MLB has finally addressed that.

The most radical change of all will be the “three batter minimum” for pitchers. MLB is trying to eliminate the “start an inning and pitch to one batter” strategy that tends to slow down the game in the middle and late innings.

The rule will eliminate the need for “spot relievers” which will not sit well with the MLBPA. (That’s partly the reason why the rosters will expand to 26 players and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a 27-man roster for every game before long)

Managers will still be able to play match-up. If a reliever starts an inning, gets an out and then puts two men on, whoever comes in would only have to face two hitters as long as he retires both of them. That pitcher would not have to remain in the game in the next inning, but whoever starts that inning would be subjected to the “three batter minimum.”

There is already some debate as to whether pitchers would fake an injury so they wouldn’t have to pitch to three hitters. MLB could impose a penalty in that regard. If a pitcher comes out of a game and doesn’t face the “3-batter minimum” due to an “injury” that would not sideline him for an extended period, that pitcher would not be able to be used for the next game.

Maybe it’s me but I just don’t get this infatuation with Tim Tebow.

Earlier this week, Kevin Kernan, the outstanding baseball columnist for the NY Post, wrote a column entitled, “Scouts and Mets Have Noticed the New Tim Tebow.”

In the column, Tebow is being praised by teammates and scouts for the improvements he’s made in his game as he attempts to make it to the Major Leagues.

To be frank, I see a player who is not and will not be Major League ready.

One scout was quoted as saying, “He’s gotten a lot better on the offensive side.” Another scout said, “I have to say he has improved,” but added a caveat when he said, “As an extra guy he might be the kind of good because he is not a negative force.” Read between those lines. Did the scout indicate that there is real Major League potential there. I get the feeling that scout didn’t want to dampen the enthusiasm that seems to engulf this 31-year old.

Oh, did I neglect to mention he is 31-years old, so tell me how he will be a part of the Mets’ future.

What I see is an athlete who is far from being a polished professional baseball player.

Tebow’s swing reminds me of Roy Hobbs, uhh, excuse me, Robert Redford, who played Roy Hobbs in “The Natural.” His swing is stiff, there’s no real bat speed and he has numerous holes that opposing pitchers can exploit. Tebow pursues fly balls in the outfield as if he’s trying to field an “end over end” punt on an extremely windy day. One of the scouts in Kernan’s column assessed Tebow’s glove work with this quote. “His defense is still too much like a football player in the field,” he said.

I don’t want to come off as the bad guy here but as Tebow was getting his chance to try and make it, a classy veteran named Adam Jones was struggling to get a job.

I realize that he inspires others, but the bottom line, Tim Tebow is not a Major League baseball player and is not part of the Mets’ future so why waste time with what is essentially a novelty.

If their much heralded starting rotation finally plays to its potential, the Mets will be right in the thick of the NL East race with a good chance to finish on top. If that happens, GM Brodie Van Wagenen will be basking in the glory but let’s not forget Sandy Alderson’s contribution.

Following the 2010 season, Alderson was hired to be the Mets General Manager. Under his watch, NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom (who was drafted by the previous GM, Omar Minaya) developed in the Mets’ farm system. In 2011, Alderson traded impending free agent Carlos Beltran to the Giants in exchange for right hander Zack Wheeler.

After the 2012 season, Alderson capped off a brilliant trade with Toronto when he sent the NL Cy Young Award winner, 38-year old R.A. Dickey, to the Blue Jays and got back catcher Travis d’Arnaud and a young stud right hander in Noah Syndegaard.

If the Mets go on to have a successful season, Sandy Alderson’s “fingerprints” will be all over it.

It’s great that the Yankees feel they will break their record of 267 home runs that was set last season. How about a little more focus on getting a few more clutch hits. It’s nice to hit home runs but that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win.

If the Yankees got a few more clutch hits in the ALDS vs. Boston last season, who knows. Maybe the Red Sox would not have been celebrating their fourth World Championship in the last 15 seasons. Even with an historic post season loss in game 3, the other two losses were there for the taking if the Yankees could have gotten a clutch hit or two.

From speaking with people in the know, the Red Sox had two concerns going into the post season, their bullpen and the Yankees. Boston felt the Yankees were a tougher match up than the Astros. Once, they got past the Yankees, the Red Sox had a smooth ride to the World Championship as evidenced by their five game series wins against Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

With the news coming down that Luis Severino won’t be ready until at least May, the Yankees have to hope that his shoulder problem will not shut him down longer. Fearing the worst, losing Severino for a longer period of time will not kill the Yankees chances but it certainly hurts.

There have been reports the Yankees are looking into possibly signing free agent, veteran left hander Gio Gonzalez. Don’t count out the possibility of Dallas Keuchel ending up in Pinstripes.

LAST LICKS: Cubs are seeking bullpen help but will not go after free agent Craig Kimbrel. Brendan Morrow will likely open the season on the I-L and will not be back until May at the earliest, while Pedro Strop is dealing with a hamstring strain…..Nationals may be in the market for an outfielder. Michael A. Taylor has a sprained left knee and hip and could miss a “significant amount” of time. Taylor was battling Victor Robles for the starting CF job. Washington may look toward former Met Austin Jackson as a fill in…..


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