As we tumble further (farther?) into the off-season, I’m one to toss out questions or ideas into the ether. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how teams are going to use the BRAND SPAKING NEW!! 26th man. That’s right. The old 25 man roster is becoming a 26 man roster as soon as this coming season. BOOYAH! Here are the rules at a quick glance.
I know, tl;dr….truth be told, I read it once and forgot it, but let’s continue. Maybe someone we know and trust can give us an opinion.
Alright, that’s it, we good here.
Well, I guess we realize that I am not a smart team (or anything), so it be about time to look into what might be the best usageses for this final roster spot.
3rd Catcher (preferably LHH)
Steve Stone knows about 50,000,000 times more about baseball than I do, so empirically you’d think I’d be happy to bow down to him and say this case is closed, but the more I thought about it the less I think a 3rd catcher on the roster has that much utility. It is rare that you need a 3rd catcher in a game due to injury. It is rare that you’d want to use your catcher to pinch hit or DH (Catchers as a group hit .236/.308/.405 for a wRC+ 85, while the non-pitchers in MLB hit .256/.327/.443 wRC+ 100). I guess it is possible that it would allow you to in-game pinch run for your catcher more often and curb your managers risk aversions about being on their last catcher in the bottom of the 8th inning, but that seems like a poor usage. I also thought about it possibly giving more rest to the #1 and #2 catchers, but at this point, catchers play the least of any position player and it isn’t that hard to get yourself a catcher on the fly if you get an injury. Look how Martin Maldonado got passed around like an old Cheech and Chong bit last year.
Another League Minimum Relief Pitcher
As Stoney’s tweet noted, most teams will just add pitcher number 13 (if they already weren’t using them) to the roster at a minimum salary. I pretty much agree that the unimaginative will go with this method, but I don’t really love it. Your last bullpen guy is often a super expendable young arm with options, so why not play the time honored game that all teams do and recycle the bottom of your bullpen through your farm system. You got a fresh guy on the farm just waiting to get lit up on your MLB team, so just ship him up when you need that extra arm. I don’t think this is affording you much in-game utility either. It probably isn’t adding wins to the bottom line adding ANOTHER no-name fungible arm to the roster, especially when they’ll mostly collect dust and you’ll NEVER throw them in a high leverage (which basically means when the game is on the line) situation.
Terrance Gore type Base Running Weapon
Remember when Terrance Gore was all the rage. Remember when the Royales with Cheese would put him on the post season roster even though he basically didn’t play with the big club all year and they had no intention of using him to do anything other than run the bases? Remember when the Cubs copied that strategy in later years and somehow fucked it up and ended up with him batting in a big spot in a game….LOL!! That was fun times. Anywho, if you just look up the top Qualified hitters by OBP (On Base Percentage) and check their base running stats, approx half (I didn’t count them out so fuck you, if it’s only 48%) are negative runners. Seems like this type of player would have lots of utility at the end of most regular season games. Not to mention, if this player is also an elite base stealer like Gore is (was, I don’t know if he is still good at stealing since everyone knows he’s going), then they should have a field day against most teams bullpens late in games in situations that matter to a daily win-loss total.
When I was a kid (damn that sounds like old man talk), the White Sox had a guy with tinted glasses that would come off the bench to bat whenever there was a big situation and Harold Baines didn’t happen to already be up. That man was Jerry Hairston and he was the quintessential pinch-hitter. That was the man’s job, wait till late in the fucking game and then come in cold off the bench and hit some shit. With the expansion of everyone’s bullpen and a focus on run prevention by the “smart” front offices, this particular player has gone by the way side. It’s a shame, not only because I love a good pinch hitter in a key spot, but because pinch hitters have a certain mysticism to them. They are basically given an incredibly hard job and we as fans tend to appreciate it as such, we tend to only remember when they came through big, not the 85% of the time they failed. Not to mention, in the modern game, a pinch hitter could really institute quite a SWAG game. I’d imagine a James Brown style robe over him as he warms up in the on-deck circle. We’d probably make 108 branded robes to match.
Extra bat with no position
Look, I figure the first comment to this blog post will be that the White Sox should ad an Adam Engel type late inning defender to this team. First off, that’s fucking boring. Second off, nobody puts the ball in play anymore, your closer and your (hopefully) skilled and adept pitch framing catcher are your best “defenders” in the late innings anyways. Nope, I want a big fucking lumbering home run masher. We had a fine one of those back in 2018, (less fine in 2019) and I’d like something like that in 2020 as my preferred solution for this spot. When I say, no position, I just mean they aren’t good at defense anywhere, but so what, playing a mashing bat in the appropriate spots 50-70 games per year might mean a lot to the win total.
I hope the White Sox think long and hard about this last spot and how it will effect their 2020 win total because anything less than 82 wins and we RIOT!!-BeefLoaf