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XF Sep 9 '19
One of the great misnomers in baseball is the offseason, because there is no offseason. China Shoes Cheap . Baseball has become a 12-month sport, the late fall and winter being a time for trades, free agent signings, GM meetings, winter meetings, arbitration, labor negotiations, hirings and firings.Here are 10 storylines to watch for this offseason.10. The award winnersSome choices will be easy. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is likely going to be the unanimous choice for the National League Rookie of the Year, but the voting for many awards will be close, if not contentious, most notably the American League MVP.By most statistical measures, especially the advanced metrics, Mike Trout was the ALs best player this year, but he played for an Angels team that won 74 games and never contended. Only five times has a player won an MVP for a sub-.500 team, but this could be the sixth time. There are other quality candidates who played for playoff teams or contenders, including Bostons Mookie Betts and David Ortiz, Torontos Josh Donaldson, Houstons Jose Altuve and Baltimores Manny Machado. But it appears there has been a slight shift in the thinking of the voters, a subtle move toward voting for the best player as opposed to the best player on a contender. So Trout has a chance to win his second MVP award to go with his three second-place finishes. He is 25 years old.9. Hall of FameThree players with first-ballot credentials will be up for voting for the first time this year: Manny Ramirez, Ivan Pudge Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero. The first two have varying connections to PEDs. Ramirez served two suspensions for violations of baseballs drug policy (2009 and 2011). Rodriguez was never suspended or caught taking anything, but he was mentioned in Jose Cansecos book Juiced.?Ramirezs is likely in the category with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who are at 44.3 percent and 45.2 percent of the vote, respectively, after four years on the ballot, and might not ever get enough support to in. Pudge would seem to have a better chance of eventually getting in even if he doesnt make it this year.Jeff Bagwell?(71.6 percent last year), Tim Raines (69.8) and Trevor Hoffman?(67.3) have the best shot at election. Its Raines 10th and final year on the ballot. The voting will take place in December, and will be announced in January. At the winter meetings in December, a special committee will consider another list of names from Todays Game Era (1988-present), which includes players that were previously on the ballot for the Baseball Writers Association of America (Mark McGwire, Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Orel Hershiser, Will Clark, among others), as well as managers (Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella) and executives (George Steinbrenner and John Schuerholz). Someone, maybe more than one, is going to the Hall of Fame from this group.8. ManagersTwo teams, the Diamondbacks and Rockies, are looking for a manager. The Rockies have talked to, among others, Brad Mills and Glenallen Hill. The Diamondbacks have considered Phil Nevin, Alex Cora and Don Wakamatsu, but appear to be zeroing in on Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, who did a nice job filling in for ailing John Farrell with the Red Sox for the final 58 games (28-20) of the 2015 season. Lovullo is 51 and an old-school guy in many respects. Hes the best sign-stealer in the major leagues, but he also embraces the new analytics age in the game. In the previous two years under Tony LaRussa and Dave Stewart, the D-backs attempted to run their team in a pure baseball fashion, without much help from advanced metrics. But that way didnt work. Their failure is another sign that teams are being run more differently than ever. Teams are now run by young, exceptionally bright GMs who sometimes value data over the eyes, ears and feel of veteran baseball men. Consequently, the D-backs hired Mike Hazen of the Red Sox to run their team, and chances are hell hire Lovullo to manage it.7. Speed-up rulesThere is nothing wrong with the game. The game on the field is still great, but executives, led by commissioner Rob Manfred, are determined to speed things up, especially after the average time of game went from 2 hours, 56 minutes in 2015 to 3:01. Dont look for a rule that limits the number of relievers a manager can use in a game, but look for changes, including limiting trips to the mound by a catcher or an infielder or maybe even the pitching coach. In the postseason, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras went to the mound far too often, making the game drag. The intentional walk rule might be altered; the manager would just put up four fingers, and the batter would be sent to first base without four pitches being thrown. And baseball will continue to try to keep hitters in the batters box between pitches, and make pitchers deliver the ball in a timelier manner.The game likely wont adopt a strict pitch clock in 2017, but after watching Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez (hes not the only one) take 30-35 seconds between pitches, bringing the game to a grinding halt, something has to be done. Here are the times of game for the seven games in the 1948 World Series, the last time the Indians were champions: 1:42, 2:14, 1:36, 1:31, 2:39 and 2:16. What a difference.6. TradesTodays young, relentless, creative GMs find a way to make trades, which is why an offseason thats not strong on free agents could include a bunch of deals. It might all begin with the White Sox, who have had little to no success in the past couple of years after making a number of moves. Will they take the next step and trade left-hander Jose Quintana or ace Chris Sale? Dealing Sale, who is a terrific pitcher with a team-friendly contract, doesnt make sense in a lot of ways, but maybe now is the time for the White Sox to explore what they can get for him. Some teams, including the Red Sox, have a surplus of young players and might be able to swing a deal for Sale, who potentially could turn a noncontender into a contender, and a contender into a champion. Quintana wont bring what Sale could bring, but he has value.The Rays have marketable pitching to deal, led by?Jake Odorizzi, and they have to upgrade their offense. It will be interesting to see if the Dodgers try again to move outfielder Yasiel Puig. He made strides toward becoming a better player and, more importantly, a better teammate after a summer demotion to Triple-A. Will the Reds dangle first baseman Joey Votto, who hit .408 with a 1.158 OPS the second half of the season? If they do, several teams (Toronto? Votto is Canadian) could have interest. But the cost of that contract might be prohibitive.?Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen?will come up in trade rumors, as they often do this time of year, but dont look for either to be traded.5. The Toronto Blue JaysThey have made it to the American League Championship Series each of the past two years but lost to the Royals, then the Indians. The Jays have a tremendous amount of money with which to deal, but there is a question about how much they are willing to spend on their own potential free agents, notably outfielders Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders?and first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion.The Jays are being run by club president Mark Shapiro, who comes from small-market roots in Cleveland and has not shown a tendency to spend an enormous amount on everyday players in their 30s -- Bautista is 36, Encarnacion is 33. Bautista is looking for a big payday, and Encarnacion, who hit 42 homers and drove in 127 runs last year, is likely going to get a big payday, maybe from the Red Sox, who need a DH to replace David Ortiz. Its possible that the Jays will lose him and Bautista to free agency and try to build around their young starting pitching, led by Aaron Sanchez.4. Free-agent hittersEncarnacion, Bautista and Saunders are part of a group of free-agent hitters that lacks young, all-round everyday players but still includes some useful options. Outfielder/DH Mark Trumbo led the major leagues in home runs in 2016. One of his teammates with the Orioles, catcher Matt Wieters, is out there. Another catcher, the Nationals Wilson Ramos, is available, but his value might be diminished somewhat by a knee injury that could force him to miss the beginning of the 2017 season. There are other hitters available, from outfielders Josh Reddick, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday to first basemen Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland to third baseman Justin Turner.Ian Desmond, who resurrected his career with the Rangers in 2016, has established himself as a major league outfielder, but its still possible that someone could sign him to play his original position, shortstop. The Rangers will make Desmond a qualifying offer ($17.2 million this year), so he could end up back in Texas.The best all-round player on the free agent market might be outfielder?Yoenis Cespedes, who is expected to opt out of his deal with the Mets before Saturday to become a free agent again. The Mets would like to have him back, but there will be competition from several other teams.3. Free-agent starting pitchersIt is a weak group, as weak as any year we can remember. Left-hander Rich Hill, age 36, is probably the best of the bunch (look for the Yankees to be involved for Hill). He has had injury issues the past two years, but starting Sept. 1, 2015, only Clayton Kershaw has a lower ERA than Hill. His curveball, with all its variations, is difficult to hit.After him, theres Andrew Cashner, Ivan Nova, Jeremy Hellickson, R.A. Dickey and a few others, but this free agent group is one reason that teams will try to improve their rotations through trades rather than signings.2. ClosersThis is the strength of the free-agent market. It is led by Aroldis Chapman, who throws 103 mph, is 28 years old and has a strikeout rate unmatched in major league history for anyone with 350 innings. Chapman was suspended 30 games at the beginning of the 2016 season under Major League Baseballs domestic violence policy and there could be some teams not interested because of that. Kenley Jansen might have more value than Chapman because of the way he pitched in the postseason, going more than one inning, entering in the seventh inning, showing flexibility and durability.The way Jansen (and more importantly, Andrew Miller) was used in October will not change the way teams use their closers in the regular season, not with 162 games and so few off days. But Jansen (and Miller) might make teams a little less rigid about how they use their closer. There are other closers out there in free agency, including Mark Melancon. Even teams with a top-shelf closer, such as the Red Sox, might try to add another late-inning guy to simulate what the Indians had with Miller and closer Cody Allen.The Giants are one team that badly needs a closer (30 blown saves in 2016).1. LaborThe collective bargaining agreement expires Dec. 1. Twenty years ago, that would mean potentially really bad news, and perhaps a lockout or a strike. But the two sides -- the owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association -- are so much less contentious than they were in the early 1980s and the mid-90s when the game nearly imploded. And Manfred overseeing the process after being so closely involved in the past bodes well for a resolution without a work stoppage. Still, there are significant, complicated issues to study and discuss, led by strengthening the polices on domestic violence, performance-enhancing drugs, tobacco, etc. In the past year, many players, including stars such as Justin Verlander, have asked for stronger testing and punishment for PEDs.?Some other issues likely to come up:? Then there is the issue of the schedule being shortened from 162 to 154 games. That still remains unlikely because fewer games would mean less money for the owners.? There will be a huge discussion on roster size -- should teams be able to have 35-40 players active in September, or will teams be able to activate only 30 players each night?? The union is expected to fight to abolish the qualifying offer, which acts, in a way, like the franchise tag in football. It can limit the movement of players due to the attachment of a draft choice, and it can delay the signing of a player deep into January.? There could be major changes with the international draft, with a soft slotting system that simply didnt work over the past few years. An international draft is possible, but more likely there will be a more stringent slotting system with penalties that could cost teams players, roster spots or draft picks.? There will be the usual debates on the minimum salary (currently $507,500) and the luxury tax ($189 million) as well as the future of the DH. It is ridiculous that the game has two sets of rules. Executives, players and managers from the National League mostly believe that the game is better without the DH, but the union isnt going to allow for the dumping of the DH because it often is a high-paying job. So, the status quo likely will remain. China Shoes Free Shipping . Jeff Green scored 13 points and Kris Humphries 12 for the Celtics, who nearly blew an 18-point, second-half lead. Sullingers 20-20 was the first by a Celtics player since Kevin Garnetts first game in Boston in 2007. Garnett was dealt -- along with Paul Pierce -- to Brooklyn during the off-season. Cheap Shoes From China . -- Adam Snyder returned to the San Francisco 49ers this season because the offensive lineman thought it was his best opportunity to win a championship. . The incident occurred at 19:56 of the second period of the Kings 4-2 road win over Edmonton on Sunday. Nolan punched Oilers forward Jesse Joensuu in the jaw in front of the Kings goal during a scrum. In the early 2000s, the rules of the fantasy league between Green Bay Packers?front-office executives and scouts were straightforward: No money was involved. Coaches were not allowed to play, and you could not draft any Packers.Still, despite the seemingly harmless nature of the league, a team executive was a little bit concerned and thought he should call the NFL office. I knew [the NFL] had this mantra of gambling affects the integrity of the game, recalled Andrew Brandt, then a vice president for the Packers. Back then, I didnt know if fantasy was gambling. I didnt know how they would view it.The response I got was either We didnt have this conversation or Just do it and dont tell anyone that youre doing it.A decade later, Brandt, now a columnist for on Sports Illustrated, has a better understanding of the NFLs stance on fantasy sports and gambling. But, as discussions heat up about expanding legal sports betting in the U.S., he believes the league needs to be more proactive on the issue. Brandt, ESPN NFL Business Analyst, visited with Chalk about the leagues stance on sports betting as part of our series on the future of sports betting in the U.S.Q: How well do you think the NFLs gambling policy was understood back then, and how well is it understood now?A: People understand the general concept that gambling flies in the face of integrity in [the] sense that it has associations with fixing games. It has associations with casinos. It has an association with a negative element that goes against this mantra of competitive balance and integrity. But drilling down, I think its not that deep of [an] understanding, because there are some contradictions, and there are some questions as to how things apply.Q: How would you characterize the divide among NFL owners when it comes to the leagues opposition to expanding legal sports betting?A: I think the stance generally is more evolved. I say that because we havent had owners standing up on the table beating the drum against the possible relocation (of the Oakland Raiders) to Las Vegas. But even before we get to Vegas, I think theres a more evolved view. I cant name names, because I dont know which is which, but I do think there is an old guard that continues to hold up their hands in a stop sign to anything associated with gambling. But theres a newer version of ownership thats much more flexible when it comes to that.Q: What is the biggest concern from those who oppose sports betting?A: I think theres always the concern of competitive balance. It drives everything the league does. In my expertise, it drives the reason for restrictions on free agency. It drives the reason for a salary cap. It drives the reason for a draft in inverse order. And you can apply it to gambling. There is a concern that, if we allow [gambling] in, players, coaches, referees, executives will be subject to potential influence that could influence the outcome of these games. Every time Roger Goodell speaks about fantasy, the clear distinction is outcome of games versus outcomes of player performance. Thats the fear: that [gambling] could affect the competitive balance of the league. It could affect outcomes of games.Q: Why doess the NFL believe the current environment, where the majority of bets are placed in an illegal, unregulated market, better protects the integrity of the game than a legal market overseen by licensed officials?A: Its a fair question. China Shoes Nike. I think its the fear of the unknown. Its stepping into new territory, and again, I think the NFL isnt the most progressive sports league and not the one that you would see jumping into previously taboo areas. You have (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver writing an op-ed in the New York Times about exactly what you said in terms of bringing gambling out in the light. You have the NHL all-in, moving a team to Las Vegas. So before the NFL dips [its] toes in the water, I think they want to see it happen in other leagues. They dont move as nimbly as others.Q: Youve written about the need for the league to be proactive on sports gambling and possibly hiring a new executive position, a gambling czar. What would that positions responsibilities be, in your opinion?A: I do think that its a position that makes sense. It sort of follows the path of concussions and brain health. Because whats happened over the years is a positive trajectory toward concussions, a better understanding, better science, better rules, better governance and the hiring of a chief medical officer. I think that is a good path for the gambling issue. As they understand fantasy, as they understand the issues with Las Vegas, as they look into consequences for gambling, why not have the same strategy in hiring a chief gambling officer, what Ive called a gambling czar? So in this area that is incredibly changing and moving quickly, lot of legislation, lot of issues, lot of litigation and a potentially lucrative revenue source, which will get their attention as much as anything, why not hire this person?This person would have two primary responsibilities. One is regulation and enforcement, which is upholding the integrity of the game. First of all youd create the rules that prohibit players, coaches, referees, team personnel from placing bets in any way on any aspect of the game. The czar would be the clearinghouse that Ive talked about in terms of Can we do this? Why cant we do this? What are the limitations to play fantasy football? What are our limitations on aligning with a casino, whether sponsorship, advertising or marketing, etc.?Then I think there would also be the investigatory process that we hear so much about, with Roger Goodell and player conduct. There would be the same kind of policy, discipline, procedure and regulations in this area. Now, would Goodell want overarching authority? Thats another issue. But this czar would be the one deciding, notifying, investigating all these issues within this area.Q: The czar would have been the person you would have called regarding the Packers fantasy league? A: Absolutely. It would have been this person, and the answer would have been clear, concise. A general lawyer, who was the person that I called, is working on 50 different things, and gambling was probably not even on his radar. ' ' '