Friday, December 2, 2016

The power of 10 (days)

There is an obvious appeal to changing the minimum stay on the disabled list from 15 to 10 days.

Twins fans have long beefed about an organizational tendency to refrain from putting a mildly injured player on the DL. A regular infielder tweaks something, and it's obvious that he's going to miss some time. But how much? It's seldom certain. So the team waits two, three, four days .. and maybe the guy is back in the lineup at this point, but frequently he's not, and now he goes on the shelf, but in the meantime a roster with few reserves to begin with has been even more shorthanded.

This is not unique to the Twins. It's a problem for every organization. The 10-day DL, it would seem, will make it easier to move that player off the active roster, because now you're not committed to doing without him for two weeks plus.

But there's a drawback to that ease. I suspect teams -- particularly those with one or two rotation anchors piling up the innings (at least by today's standards) and a number of roughly comparable candidates for the back end of the rotation -- will use the 10 day standard to shuffle three or four weaker starters in and out of the rotation, and use that roster spot on yet another reliever.

As a practical matter, it's not that difficult to turn 10 days into one missed start. And as a practical matter, almost any starting pitcher has something going on in his arm. James is placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, and John comes off the DL and makes a couple of starts, while Mike goes on the DL when James is eligible to pitch again and comes off so John can go back on the DL ... and meanwhile George remains on the roster as an extra bullpen arm.

And of course James, John and Mike (and George) all really do have inflammation in their shoulders, because they're pitching in the major leagues. It's part of the job. The question is always, what amount of pain can they put up with, and how severe is the damage being done? Now another factor enters: the willingness of the organization to game the system.

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