Vargas takes a lead and MLB goes nuts
by Mike Salk
Two big baseball things caught my eye today.
1. I have been saying all spring that Jason Vargas is the best candidate for the fifth spot in the Mariners rotation, but today was a HUGE step in terms of that actually happening. And no, I’m not just referring to his 3 2/3 innings of two-hit ball. Yes, that helps. But it pales in comparison to the incredibly revealing comments made by his manager Don Wakamatsu afterwards.
“What I like about Vargas is he’s in better shape from last year. It looks like his mechanics are a little tighter and he looks confident,” Wakamatsu said.
In a competition in which it’s difficult to judge results, the team will be looking at other factors. And Wak has indicated that commitment (conditioning) and mechanics will be a factor in the decision.
But even better for Vargas was this from Wak: â€œYesterday with [Doug] Fister, I thought he was a little bit nervous. We didn’t see that out of Vargas.â€
That is the best thing Vargas could have possibly heard. That he has been the candidate who has handled his starts with the best attitude and most professional outlook.
Now, jobs aren’t usually won in the first two spring starts, but after comments like that, I have to believe Vargas has moved to the front of the pack for the back of the rotation.
2. Has anyone seen the â€œfloating realignmentâ€ plan proposed by Bud Selig’s â€œspecial committee for on-field matters?” It is insane! You should read the whole article, but the biggest part of the plan is that it would allow ever-changing divisional alignment each year based on geography, payroll and the team’s plans to contend or not.
While I understand the geography â€“ that has to play a role in any alignment to limit travel and keep time zones under control for TV purposes â€“ the other two factors make me very worried. In Tom Verducci’s examples, teams like the Rays and Blue Jays might opt out of the AL East to escape the mammoth payrolls of the Red Sox and Yankees while the Indians might want to be in the AL East to pick up some additional revenue when they play those two teams more often. In this example, Cleveland is being rewarded financially (with revenue) for choosing not to contend.
So, the Indians fans are supposed to be happy because they get an extra 25 games against the two most popular teams, but they have even less of a chance of going to the playoffs? That’s insane! And why are we interested in placing high payroll teams in divisions with even less competition? Because we need to make things easier for them? That’s even worse!
Some other questions:
-Would teams be allowed to switch leagues? So, if the Mets had an extra hitter they liked, they could move to the AL and play with a DH? Or if the A’s preferred to have their pitchers hit, they could move to the Senior Circuit?
-How would things work for geographically isolated teams like the Mariners? They’d be nowhere near the big draw teams in the Northeast, so how does this help them make money?
-I understand the desire to find ways to even the playing field without the league regulating payroll, but this changes some of the spirit of the game. No one should be rewarded for spending less or for deciding not to compete for a year. Ever.
I haven’t read the whole report, and perhaps some of these questions are answered. So as of now, I applaud the committee’s creativity and willingness to think outside the box, but I think it’s suggestion causes more harm than good. You?
*Please note, no one is saying this report is close to actually happening. In fact, there are indications that Bud Selig would not approve it. But it still amazes me that it was even produced.