There was not a scheduled Cincinnati Reds game today. That means that there is not going to be a Strat-O-Matic simulated game to talk about and discuss, nor will there be a “news and notes” section within there (peak behind the Redleg Nation curtain: Tom puts together all of the Strat-O-Matic game stuff, then tags me in each afternoon to input some of the news and notes stuff. We’re the undefeated Tag Team Champions of the world. We’re a mix of prime Hart Foundation mixed with The Dudley Boys). But, there were more than a few tidbits of news and notes that I felt were worth bringing up today.
The Brainiest Hitter
You know who this player is, right? Of course it’s Joey Votto. Sridhar Pappu wrote about Votto this month for The Atlantic (not to be confused with The Athletic).
Votto is considered one of the smartest hitters in baseball history, mentioned in the same breath as Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn. But Votto is now 36, and last year was his annus horribilis—his batting average was undistinguished and he had little power. Now, at an age when many athletes grudgingly accept diminishing skills, he is seeking not only to recover from his worst season ever but to answer a larger question: Can one of the great thinkers of the game out-think time? “It’s weird not playing well,” Votto told me when I visited him in February at the team’s player-development complex in Goodyear, Arizona. “It bothers me.”
Watching Korean Baseball
The Korean Baseball Organization is hoping to begin playing their regular season in early May. And according to a report by Kim Young-rok of Sports Chosun, there’s a chance that we may be able to watch it here in America. ESPN has reportedly reached out to see if they could work something out to broadcast the games stateside.
Weird Baseball Scheduling in the Arizona & Florida plan
You may have seen that one of the plans that was discussed by Major League Baseball to resume playing involved separate leagues held at the spring training facilities in both Florida and in Arizona. Traditional National and American Leagues won’t exist – you’ll just have a “Cactus League” and a “Grapefruit League”.
That plan, however, could come with some scheduling issues with the idea that baseball wants to play as many games as possible. Ben Clemens of Fangraphs discussed the issue, and offered up some ways to get around some of it. This idea was intriguing, and was just one of a few offered up.
What other options do we have? One choice would be to have some non-traditional double headers. A team could play a day game and then a night game against two different opponents, serving as a de facto 16th team for game balance. Of course, that schedule is about as unfair to that team as you would expect — playing two games in a day is usually a mutual disadvantage, and while it’s hard to estimate the exact cost, it’s not likely to be low.
The big issue could be rain outs and how to make those games up. It could lead to more double headers than planned given that there aren’t going to be mutual off days in the schedule to work with.
Which players benefit the most from an expanded roster?
Sticking with the weird baseball in 2020 theme, it seems that just about every plan we’ve heard about is only talking about Major League Baseball. It seems rather unlikely that there’s going to be a minor league season happening at the same time there’s a big league season happening this year. It would take a miracle of some kind to see that take place. But what some believe would happen is that the big league clubs, assuming we get weird baseball in 2020, would have expanded rosters to not only allow more games played (and double headers) in a shorter period of time, but also have an expanded “non-game day” roster that is with the club and practices every day and is there for when injuries do pop up.
Over at RedsMinorLeagues.com this morning, I took a bit of a deep dive into that scenario. We took a look at which players that could benefit the most from that situation, the players who may be harmed the most by the situation, and how a general manager may try to balance the issue of bringing in “bit players” on their expanded roster versus prospects who otherwise would miss valuable development time if they were just told to train at home on their own.