As World Series Begins, Let’s Get Caught Up On The News

The World Series starts on Tuesday, with the Washington Nationals facing the Houston Astros.

The Nats coasted past St. Louis in the NLCS and now have to face the class of the majors this season, in the Astros. Houston needed six games to dispose of the Yankees, winning two of them on walk-off homers including Jose Altuve‘s game-ending blast on Saturday to clinch the series.

Houston is a heavy favorite to win the series, according to the oddsmakers in Vegas. Yet the Nats still have outstanding starting pitchers to match-up against the Astros aces. Washington was able to negotiate around its inferior bullpen in the previous playoff games by using its starters in relief in key situations – it will be interesting to see if they continue with that strategy now.

It will be a fun one to watch if you love dominant pitching.

A huge story in the world of minor league baseball hit over the weekend, when it was revealed that MLB is looking to make massive changes to the structure of the minors when the two sides meet to renegotiate the Professional Baseball Agreement following the 2020 season.

The MLB owners want to streamline the player development process by staffing fewer minor league teams. They have additional concerns about quality of facilities and travel within the various leagues. MLB is facing an ongoing lawsuit regarding minor league player pay that would, if successful, ramp up its player development costs.

Baseball America has a story covering the initial proposal by MLB, which suggests extraordinary changes including the elimination of 42 minor league teams and restructuring leagues across the nation. It would bring extreme change to the minors, with much of the impact felt at the lower levels of the system.

The Athletic (a subscription site, but it’s the best story I could find that covers the other side) has the response from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner, who does not want to eliminate 42 teams.

These are just the early stages of what is going to be a long negotiation. Considering the extreme changes suggested by MLB in its opening salvo, it seems that the minors will have some sort of different structure in 2021. How different, and what those changes are, will be determined as the two sides talk over the course of the next year.

Personally, I doubt that Tacoma will be impacted by any league restructuring. With Tacoma’s proximity to the major league affiliate, strong fan support, and easy travel by PCL standards (direct flights out of SeaTac to all seven of the other Pacific Conference cities), it would be surprising if MLB was concerned about our franchise.

Links:

  • ESPN Insider’s Keith Law explains some of the big picture issues with the current MLB-MiLB agreement, and why changes are probably coming.
  • Really good stuff here from Ryan Divish, who looks at the Mariners preseason Top 15 Prospects list, reviews their season, and projects where they will play in 2020. We’ll have some hitting prospects coming our way next year, it seems.
  • Seattle Times columnist and longtime baseball writer Larry Stone spent a few days in Arizona recently, double-dipping on Huskies and Mariners coverage. He saw top prospect Julio Rodriguez in the Arizona Fall League and came away very impressed.
  • Double-A Arkansas shortstop Donnie Walton – who we expect will open the 2020 season with Tacoma – was honored with a Minor League Baseball Gold Glove Award.
  • Larry Stone watched the playoffs, and thought about the Mariners, and realized that the Mariners need to get some stars.
  • The Mariners made modern baseball history, in a not-so-fun way.
  • Former Rainiers first baseman Ji-Man Choi has become a fan favorite this postseason.
  • We’re four months from the start of spring training. Report dates were announced.
  • Dust off your resume: the M’s are hiring a video coordinator and a Baseball Operations intern.
  • After seven years as the manager of the Colorado Rockies Triple-A club – the last five in Albuquerque – Glenallen Hill is out as manager.

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