#Hot Corner

Easy fix for steroids mess? 30-man rosters, of course!

Justin Edmonds

You remember Ryan Spilborghs, right? Used to play some outfield for the Colorado Rockies? Now he's doing his professional work on the other side of a really big ocean?

Spilly blogs sometimes, and his latest is a novella-length essay about steroids and stuff. He's a pretty thoughtful guy, and it's nice when the horse's mouth actually speaks. Spilborghs blames drug use on a couple of things: the pernicious influence of the mighty dollar, and the enervating nature of the interminable baseball season.

Spilly doesn't recommend turning Major League Baseball into an amateur sport, but he does have something to say about the schedule:

Since we can mostly agree that a baseball season will always be 162 games long in about 182 days, how can we find rest for players to avoid looking for means for their bodies to feel stronger? Expand the roster is my first change: go from a 25-man roster to a 30-man roster. It would allow for extra pitchers and position players, but it would also increase costs. A lot of cost, five extra players at league minimum ($490,000) is off the bat (pun intended) $2.45 million, not including pension and insurance, as well as pushing five players’ "clocks" towards arbitration. That’s if all players are first-year major leaguers as numbers can change drastically with free agents. The reason why an expanded roster is so important is that it allows managers more options to use players, and it gives guys who need a day off (a "blow") or nursing an injury some added time without having to place someone on the disabled list. Now a player who is nursing a slight strain can get those needed days without putting the manager at a disadvantage by having a shortened bench (for those who need this spelled out, 25 guys on MLB roster, player is hurt but still available for manager, technically, but reality is manager really has 24 players available).

The other part of expanding the roster is requiring baseball to have a maximum game rule. My suggestion is that no player can start more than 146 games in a season, and cannot play more than 10 consecutive games without a mandatory day off (I don’t count a scheduled off day as end of a session). It doesn’t mean player can’t be used in game he doesn’t start. He can pinch hit, and I would go so far to say that he would not be able to play more than five innings on games he had a mandatory no-start, unless the game goes extra innings. Then, there is no rule.

I appreciate the original thinking here, but at the risk of sounding like some stodgy old traditionalist ...

no no no no no no please god no no no no no no NO NO

The costs are irrelevant to me. There's enough money floating around in Major League Baseball to support 30-guy rosters, 40-guy rosters, hundred-guy rosters, whatever. Sure, that hundredth guy might not be really so good, but at least the manager will have plenty of options.

Which is my real problem with 30-guy rosters. Managers already have enough options. Specifically, they have enough pitching options. If they had 30 guys, at least three of those new guys would be relief-pitching guys. The managers would just love to have more relief-pitching guys. No thank you, good sir. Baseball would be a LOT more interesting with 24-guy rosters. That's not going to happen. We've already got 26-guy rosters for doubleheaders, and before long we'll probably have them all the time.

Baseball's fine, though, without 30-guy rosters and without mandated days off. When Ryan Spilborghs says the baseball life is a tough, tiring life, I believe him; he's lived that life. But sometimes it's worth remembering that baseball in this form does not exist for the benefit of the players. The sport exists to entertain the paying customers. And Spilly's recommending things the customers don't really want.

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