Leave it to Major League Baseball’s arcane rules and logic. The league that’s the most gruelling for its everyday starters – practically forcing teams to play its stars almost literally every single day – allows for the smallest bench of any of the major sports. A 25-man roster sounds like a lot, until you realize half of that (12-13 usually) goes to the pitching staff, which is highly regimented in how often they can throw. Leaving, on average, about 4 bench spots. One has to go to a backup catcher, which puts teams at 3 players backing up the other 8 guys in the lineup. And, since those 3 guys are usually the worst 3 guys on the roster, they don’t get to play that much as it is.
For the Mariners, their bench is spread out with a couple of platoons – first base and corner outfield – leaving the lone utility guy – Shawn O’Malley – to back up almost everywhere else.
What does it add up to? Complete lack of roster flexibility. If a guy gets hurt and has to miss a few days – but is too valuable to go on the DL, because, by rule, they can’t come back for 15 days – then you’re stuck playing a man short, and in the case of the Mariners the last couple weeks, you’re stuck shuttling guys to and from the minor leagues. Which comes with its own ridiculous rules, like you can’t recall a guy you just sent down to the minors until they’ve been down there 10 days, or until someone else on your Major League roster goes on the DL.
BUT, to help teams out, or otherwise make things more interesting, Major League teams are allowed to expand their rosters starting on September 1st, ostensibly to the 40-man limit if they so desire. What I want to know is:
Why not expand the rosters for the entire season?
It’s totally idiotic! The season is SO LONG. Guys are going to have nagging injury issues! Teams are forced to play 20 games in 20 days from time to time! If you get saddled with one extra-innings game and deplete your bullpen, you’re fucked! So, why punish teams, and why punish players, by having these limits? Why force guys up and down, or worse, force these fake DL stints that we all know are OBVIOUSLY fake, because we constantly speculate on who the next DL guy is going to be when the Mariners are in a pinch and need some extra help (hello Guti!).
And, it’s not like teams would just hoard players. If someone needs to play everyday, for the long term benefit of their careers, then teams will make sure they stay down in AAA until absolutely necessary.
In short, the Mariners have been driving me crazy with all the moves they’ve been making. On Thursday, hopefully the madness will stop.
On the downside, between now and then, the Mariners have to play a 3-game series in Texas. Considering we just gagged away three of four to the lowly White Sox, don’t be shocked if the Mariners are swept. The next three days are, without question, the most important three days of the season to date. So, whatever magic is left, needs to be released, starting today.