blue jays mlb minute

MLB Minute: Blue Jays, New Tech & Opening Day

Jays From the Couch brings you Toronto Blue Jays Coloured Snapshots of the MLB Landscape. This week: new tech & Opening Day


Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase


 


 

 

 

 

* The Blue Jays’ Opening Day 2022 has come and again, but roster decisions made by all 30 Major League clubs have reflected distinct influences spawned from the most recent CBA Negotiations. An unprecedented four Top 10 prospects, as ranked by MLB.com, will break camp and make their debuts on Opening Day: Bobby Witt, Jr. (#1 Royals), Julio Rodriguez (#3 Mariners), Spencer Torkelson (#4 Tigers) and C.J. Abrams (#9 Padres). Hunter Greene (#22) and Nick Lodolo (#42) are scheduled to take the mound for Cincinnati during the first week. Bryson Stott (#45) won the Phillies third base job and Matt Brash (#98) is expected to make his first major league start once Seattle is in need of a fifth starter. A quartet of Top 100 prospects with previous big league experience (Reid Detmers #21, Joey Bart #31, Josh Lowe #50, and Joe Ryan #97) have also secured spots on Opening Day rosters. The emphasis placed upon raising pre-arbitration eligible young players as well as curtailing service time manipulations by front offices seems to have reaped unexpected dividends for the Platers Association.

While none of the Blue Jays top prospects lined up along the third base line for Opening Night introductions, the fruits of the Toronto farm system upgrades have already become major league regulars. So any jealousy Jays fans might be experiencing should be replaced with a ‘what took your guys so long” smile. However, the extended labor negotiations and shortened spring training has seen the exodus and exiling of several former Blue Jays from Opening Day. Joe Panik and Rafael Dolis remain free agents without the hope of minor league deals on the horizon. Tyler Chatwood, AJ Cole and Breyvic Valera each decided to sign in Japan rather than suffer a similar fate. It is cyclical to see aging veterans retire before they might be ready, but the collateral damage of increased CBT thresholds and emphasis on youth has yet to be assessed. Two former first-round picks (Mike Foltynewwicz Brian Goodwin), two former closers (Kyle Barraclough Trevor Rosenthal), and a former All-Star with six consecutive Opening Day starts on his resume (Julio Tehran) are also awaiting phone calls from their agents.

Celebrating the emerging young stars of MLB is exhilarating. Lest us not forget the players we have cheered for and rooted against, too. They earned our respect and did not have their well-beings considered by owners or the MLBPA during CBA negotiations.

 

* One potential benefit of the new balanced schedule in 2023 should be the scheduling of early season series in warm weather or domed stadium sites to avoid cancellations and scheduling headaches later in the year. Three Opening Days were postponed due to inclement weather this season, and several openers were played in less than ideal circumstances. Most of us love snow and winter wonderlands – during the winter. There is a reason Spring Training complexes are built in sunny, warm towns in Florida and Arizona and not New England, the Great Plains nor in Winnipeg and Windsor.

Owners and players voice concerns over muscle and core injuries suffered in extreme cold conditions. The flexibility of having every Major League club play the other 29 at least once a season creates an easy pathway to accomplishing this standard for Opening Day. Yes, some Northeast and Midwest teams may open the season with two-week road trips. But a competitive advantage is gained by having more homestands scheduled later in the season. Not to mention the reduction in weather-related injuries that negatively impact early season performance.

 

* MLB gave formal approval to team usage of new, digital technology devices known as PitchCom during regular season games to curtail sign stealing. Five players, including the pitcher and catcher, can have earpieces in at any given time. While players admitted to “awkwardness” and “weirdness” when the PitchCom systems were deployed during Spring Training, the majority of catchers and pitchers have warmed to its usage. Mets reliever Adam Ottavino compared it to a whisper while catchers such as Mike Zunino have hailed the ability to call the next pitch before the pitcher toes the rubber as a competitive advantage for the pitcher.

The Red Sox and Tigers have already declared they will not employ the PitchCom system during the 2022 season (I’m sure the sign stealing escapades of their managers Alex Cora and A.J. Hinch have nothing to do with this decision). It is estimated that as many as 15 teams will make the devices a part of their game planning. Danny Jansen of the Blue Jays used PitchCom to great affect in the opener against Texas. The Commissioner’s Office was quick to emphasize that approval was by no means mandatory. 

You can’t help but wonder why MLB has not made PitchCom mandatory for all the clubs. Given Rob Manfred’s obsession with quickening the pace of play during games, its league-wide implementation will no doubt help achieve that goal. Just like the mandatory use of batting helmets decades ago and the elimination of sticky stuff for pitchers last season, professional athletes can make adjustments. While the days of the 2 hour baseball game are gone forever, eliminating paranoia of catcher signs being intercepted by opponents on base will result in game-times being abbreviated by a consistent 10-15 minutes per contest.

If MLB can insist on instant replay reviews and the MLBPA can block pitch clocks, then a simple, effective change to how pitches are called can be embraced as something that is here to stay.

 

 

 

 

Fek

Jersey born, Pittsburgh resident, baseball lifer. Staff Writer jaysfromthecouch.com. Host THE ON FEK CIRCLE on JFtC YouTube Channel. Regular guest on Jays From the couch Radio Podcast. Established WPPJ Rock-a-thon benefit, which has been broadcast annually since 1981 and has raised for than $500,000 for the Early Learning Institute of Pittsburgh. IBWAA member.