Good morning Birdland,
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the 2021 MLB season is going to be a little different. While nothing official has been announced, it is expected within baseball that the upcoming campaign will be delayed and likely shortened.
The goal in delaying the season is to ensure every player can be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to meeting for spring training. Considering the vaccine is just rolling out now around the country and the normal start of spring training is less than two months away it seems like a pipe dream to hope for those things to line up favorably.
At the same time, MLB can’t just make these decisions without approval from the Player’s Association. While a delay could be easy enough to agree to, it could be a bridge too far to ask the players to, once again, play fewer games and, therefore, make less money.
What does not seem to be getting discussed this time around is any sort of “bubble” solution. In fact, that option has been tossed out by every league. Not even the NBA, which had a rather successful bubble over the summer, has abandoned it.
While there are understandable logistic issues with a bubble during a regular season, it seems like it could be at least a passable option for MLB’s spring training. Some clubs even share facilities with another organization, giving them a built in opponent.
The reality is that MLB is trying to buy time so that when the regular season begins they can have fans in the stands around the country. The longer they wait to start spring training, the more people will get vaccinated, and the sooner restrictions on in-person will lift. But if they are waiting for full stadiums they may be waiting for quite a long time.
Links & Notes
Report: MLB Looking To Delay 2021 Season Until At Least May | MLB Trade Rumors
It’s not surprising, but it is a bummer. It sounds like we should get more than the 60 games played in 2020, but a full 162-game slate seems unlikely.
Do Akin and Kremer have firm hold on rotation spots? | Steve Melewski
They should. That’s not to say they couldn’t lose those spots at some point in the season. But the Orioles need to give Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer extended runs as starters to see what they have. It’s unlikely that either ever becomes an “ace” type, but even if they can be dependable back-end arms that would be valuable.
Mock draft: Rocker leads top 10 picks for ‘21 | MLB Pipeline
It will be interesting to see how this list changes as the draft gets closer. Usually, teams would get more tape on these youngsters in both the fall and spring prior to making a final decision. It’s possible they will get neither this year and may have to make a decision based on some dated impressions. Anyway, this edition has the O’s taking LSU righty Jaden Hill. I know nothing about him, but the club has a history of selecting prospects from that school (Ben McDonald, Kevin Gausman).
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!
Former relief pitcher Chris Britton turns 38 today. The righty appeared in 52 games for the 2006 O’s and was then dealt to the Yankees in exchange for Jaret Wright and cash in the following off-season.
Happy 56th birthday to Billy Ripken. The former infielder had two stints with the Birds, first from 1987 through 1992 and then again in 1996. All in he had a .243/.292/.313 batting line over seven total seasons in Baltimore.
Finally, it is the birthday of the late Mike Flanagan. The longtime pitcher spent 15 total seasons with the Orioles (1975-87, 1991-92), highlighted by winning the AL Cy Young award in 1978. Following his playing career, Flanagan served in several capacities with the club: pitching coach, executive vice president of baseball operations and finally color commentator.
2002 - The O’s add free agent shortstop Deivi Cruz to a one-year contract.
2003 - Miguel Tejada agrees to a six-year, $72 million pact with the Orioles, the largest in franchise history.
2008 - Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis signs a two-year deal with the O’s.
2009 - Relief pitcher Mike Gonzalez and infielder Garrett Atkins sign on with the Orioles.