Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Law of Unintended Consequences

Sometimes a change comes with unexpected results. Take for instance the increasing use of relief pitchers over the last 30 years. With starters pitching fewer innings, more relievers are needed to pick up the slack.

More roster spots taken by pitchers means fewer slots for backup fielders and pinch hitters. That in turn puts more pressure on managers to use their benches in tight games and long extra inning games. So what to do about it?

One solution proposed by Jerry Crasnick on is to expand rosters to 26. There are other ideas. He quotes Detroit Tigers' Manager Jim Leyland as favoring a temporary increase in rosters for doubleheaders.

The logic behind expansion seems reasonable. The game has changed over the more than a century that rosters have mostly remained at 25. (The story mentions that rosters were larger for the first month of the season in the 1960s and at 24 for the 1986 season.)

But there are flaws in the idea. Many of the readers commenting on the ESPN story speculated clubs would use any extra roster room to add more pitching.

One idea that would give managers flexibility in the wake of minor injuries or an overused relief corps would be to adopt the NBA roster rules. Teams could carry say 27 or 28 players but only 25 would be active for any game.

Hopefully, Nolan Ryan's experiment in Texas to get Rangers' starters to pitch longer into games will succeed and teams will be able to carry fewer pitchers. I don't see that happening. So, if change is needed, let's try a revolving roster.

No comments:

Post a Comment - MLB