Rounding Third: Waiting out the offseason

Philadelphia, PA ( – There is no worse month on the baseball
calendar than January.

Yes, the Hall of Fame announcement comes and that is always good for some
debate, but other than that … nothing.

And that’s probably a good thing because with the newly formed College
Football Playoff and the NFL postseason in full swing, baseball is really
on the back burner in the sports pantheon.

More so than usual, anyway.

Regardless, it certainly makes for a boring time of the year if you are
covering the sport.

And while we still may be less than a month away from pitchers and catchers
reporting to spring training, there are still some big questions that need to
be answered.

For instance …


This may have been the biggest question heading into the offseason and here we
are on Jan. 14 and still have no idea how this is going to play out.

The process was likely slowed by the notion floated from Scherzer’s agent,
Scott Boras, that it could take up to $200 million to land the former AL Cy
Young Award winner.

Still and all, it’s probably the same teams you initially thought would be in
the mix for Scherzer that are still in the running, despite statements from
both the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers that they were no longer

Given Boras’ past relationship with the Washington Nationals, you’d have to
think they could be a factor.

I thought all along he would wind up in the Bronx, but now I am not so sure.
However, it is starting to sound like the Tigers could once again be a factor,
which could then lead them to move David Price.

And if that happens, it could be a wild few weeks.

One team that may be laying in the weeds, though, is the St. Louis
Cardinals. They normally don’t delve into this type of contract, but it does
make some sense. Scherzer is from St. Louis and the Cards have a ton of injury
concerns in that rotation.

Plus Jon Lester going to Chicago may have upped the ante for the Cardinals.


Speaking of Lester, the Red Sox failed to re-sign him and have never really
addressed the top of their rotation. And if they weren’t willing to go over
$130 million or so for Lester, it makes zero sense to think they’d do it for

Now the Red Sox added some depth to their rotation this winter, bringing in
the likes of Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson. It’s a nice group
of No. 3 pitchers, but there’s no real ace in the mix.

Should Scherzer find his way back to Detroit, don’t be surprised to see the
Red Sox get involved in a potential Price blockbuster. Righty James Shields is
still out there, too, and likely biding his time to offer his services to the
losers of the Scherzer sweepstakes.


Since the final game of the 2014 season, the New York Mets have been linked to
almost every shortstop in the league. Yet here we are almost a month away from
spring training and the odds-on favorite to be the team’s Opening Day
shortstop is once again either Wilmer Flores or Ruben Tejada.

A Troy Tulowitzki deal was probably always a pipe dream, but the Mets failed
to land a Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera. The fact they were in on Ben Zobrist
last week tells you, though, that they are looking to fill that spot.

There are some options left for them. Rafael Furcal is still available, but at
age 37, is he any better an option than what the Mets have in-house?

If the Mets do truly want a shortstop, why not just give the Toronto Blue Jays
a call and ask about Jose Reyes? The wear and tear from that turf is robbing
him of the thing that once made him so electric. The Mets have the pieces to
get a deal done.

Isn’t it something to explore at least?

Or maybe they do actually believe in Flores?


One of the busier teams this offseason has been the Philadelphia Phillies.

They finally cut ties with longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins and may be ready
to do the same with both Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard, especially the latter.

Finding a taker for Hamels shouldn’t be that hard, even with the $90 million-
plus still owed to him. Hamels is an ace. Any team would want him. For the
Phils, it’s a matter of what you are getting back. Like we mentioned earlier,
the Red Sox are a team that could make a move, as well as a team like San

Hamels is from San Diego and despite all the other moves they have made this
offseason, the Padres probably still aren’t a playoff team in the NL. Getting
Hamels would change that.

Now the Phillies unloading Howard and his $50 million is a different story.

The former NL MVP may not be as feared as he once was, but he still slugged 23
home runs and drove in 95 runs last year. However, he only hit .223 and struck
out 190 times.

Still, there could be a market for him, provided the Phils eat a ton of that


The owners’ meetings are taking place this week in Arizona, the final ones
presided over by outgoing commissioner Bud Selig, and the biggest topic on the
agenda is the effort to speed up these games.

It’s probably unlikely that a “pitch clock” is going to be implemented anytime
soon, but there could be some tweaks to speed up the game, particularly in
regards to the replay process.

Far too often last season, managers would take a nice little stroll out to an
umpire and stay there until he got word from his dugout if he should challenge
a play.

One of the changes that could be made is that once a manager leaves the dugout,
that automatically triggers his challenge.

Another pace of play discussion will center around the experiment MLB used in
the Arizona Fall League. A hitter was required to keep one foot in the
batters box at all times with exceptions for foul balls, wild pitches and
timeouts. With no current major league rule to deter hitters from stepping out
of the box, they are free to stroll away after every pitch. With this rule, if
a player leaves the box completely, he can be penalized with a strike.

Ugh. Spring training can’t come soon enough.