Padres’ Green opines on MLB’s prospective rule changes; favors HR Derby (2024)

Andy Green is passionate about managing in the National League, having to think several innings ahead and manipulate his pitching staff and bench up to several times a game based largely on the fact he might have to pinch hit for a pitcher.

“There is more strategy from the manager’s chair,” Green said Wednesday, as he has many times. “There is more opportunity to impact by how you double switch.”

But in light of the fact major-league pitchers have hit .125 and struck out in 44 percent of their at-bats over the past five seasons, he sees the potential for greater excitement, which could come from a proposed rule change that would bring the designated hitter to the NL full-time.

“I’ve always enjoyed the NL game,” he said. “If that makes me a purist or makes me selfish, so be it. I’d hate to see it go from a selfish standpoint. But I can completely understand how everybody would rather see the David Ortizes of the world hit rather than Joey Lucchesi.”

Green also knows the Padres could benefit from an extra spot in the lineup.

For instance, right fielder Franmil Reyes was removed early for a pitcher and/or defensive replacement in 23 of his 45 starts over the final two months of the season, a stretch in which he hit .318/.385/.548 with 10 home runs. Additionally, Reyes is one of six Padres outfielders competing for three starting spots this spring.

“We have outfielders we really like and not enough positions to put them in,” Green said. “So in one sense that solves an issue for us — guys being on the field more consistently. But it also solves that issue for every team.”

A part of Green’s assertion was that baseball will adapt to whatever changes are made, even if they come this season, as is possible according to multiple reports about discussions between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.

Word of the relatively radical proposals came Tuesday night. But managers and executives were made aware of the possibility at the winter meetings in early December.

In addition to the institution of the universal DH, possible changes include requiring a pitcher to face at least three batters, a 20-second pitch clock, decreasing allowable mound visits from six to five per game, limiting teams to a maximum of 12 pitchers and increasing rosters from 25 to 26 players.

There is also the possibility the July 31 trade deadline and Aug. 31 waiver-trade deadlines will be replaced by one trade deadline before the All-Star break, which is at least partially aimed at increasing offseason dealing.

A proposal introduced by the union would penalize teams that perennially lose and reward winning teams by tweaking the draft order. The MLBPA holds that the current system rewards “tanking” in order to gain higher draft picks.

The proposals are negotiating points. While many of the changes are seen as inevitable, they could be phased in over multiple years.

A good number of the proposed changes are centered around pace of play. Quickening and shortening games has long been a priority of Commissioner Rob Manfred, as the average length of a game has been at least three hours in seven straight seasons. The average of 3:04 in that span is up nearly 10 minutes over the average of the previous seven seasons, and it is nearly 20 minutes longer than the average game took in the 1980s.

Eliminating the chance for managers to use a relief pitcher for just one batter, which has become increasingly regular, probably has the greatest potential to both increase the pace and decrease the length of games.

“You look up and there’s a mound visit every other second to change pitchers,” Green said. “Eliminating multiple pitching changes from the sixth through the eighth inning, the fifth through the eighth inning, sometimes the third through the eighth inning now … those things take as much time as anything. That’s four minutes (per) change, so if you can cut down the pitcher changes about a couple a game each side, you’re shaving some substantial time off the game.”

The dozen-pitcher limit is concerning to Green.

While cutting down on the number of specialist pitchers via a three-batter minimum would conceivably negate the need for extra arms, Green’s issue is that the limit could be hazardous.

“That one scares me,” Green said. “At times you go to 13 — and when you’re desperate, sometimes to 14 — out of a desire to protect people. When you slap a maximum number of pitchers on and you play 18 innings the night before and you can only get one new body in, that makes me very nervous that you’re putting people in harm’s way that have to pitch today because I can’t throw anybody else.”

Also unappealing to Green is the proposal to place a runner on second base at the start of each half-inning in extra innings, a change that was instituted in the minor leagues last year and will reportedly be tested in major-league spring training and the All-Star game this year.

He proposes keeping extra innings as they are — at least for three innings.

“I feel very strongly that after 12 innings we should have a home run derby,” he said. “I think that would be the best baseball in the world. It’s an entertainment game and if you’re going to skew the game by putting a guy on second base. …

“You have shootout in hockey, you have a shootout in soccer. Those things end games. … You’re telling me as a fan you’re not sitting there praying in the 12th inning it goes to a home run derby and we get 15 swings taken from each team and whoever hits the most home runs wins? That’s entertainment.”

Padres’ Green opines on MLB’s prospective rule changes; favors HR Derby (2024)
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