Friday, December 13, 2019

Random winter meeting takeaways

*The Twins neither took nor made a selection in the Rule 5 draft, which essentially closes baseball's annual winter meetings.

That they skipped making a pick was no surprise. They're not eager to devote a roster spot to a developmental project, even with 26-man rosters next year. And they shouldn't be.

That nobody else took somebody out of the organization was at least mildly surprising. There are so many tanking teams that I figured somebody would take an arm and figure they can hide him in the bullpen -- and again, the expanded rosters figure to make that easier to do.

* The Twins likewise were quiet on the free agent and trading fronts. Lots of rumors but no announcements. They did formalize the signings of Michael Pineda and Alex Avila, but those are already old news.

Derek Falvey, in a Thursday appearance on MLB Network Radio, said they were happy with the progess they made in talks with free agents and potential trade partners. Whether that's meaningful is to be seen.

We know the Twins still need to bolster their rotation. And we saw some eyebrow-raising price tags for what I described in an earlier post as "disposable" veteran starters. Martin Perez, cut loose by the Twins, signed with Boston for $6 million. Martin Perez. The Boston deal is less than the option the Twins declined last month, but still: 160 innings carries a lot of value.

* The MLB-sponsored research on the rabbit ball was ... unsatisifying. Which is probably to be expected. First off, there should always be a mistrust of research paid for by an entity that has an interest in a specific finding. MLB would much rather have us believe that it doesn't tinker with the baseballs. Surprise: That's the finding!

But secondly, even if the research is indeed completely independent and the findings unedited by the commissioner's office, there are so many variables that it's truly ludricious to point to one thing and say: That's the reason for the homers.

There is science -- physics -- behind the long balls. But there is art as well. I have heard too many veteran pitchers -- men who have held hundreds of baseballs over the years -- talk about the differences between the 2019 ball and, say, the 2014 ball to buy the notion that there has been no genuine change between them.

And the research doen't explain why using the major-league ball in Triple A last year lead to a major spike in homers at that level, while homers were flat or down at other levels.

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