Event-Filled Early Off-Season

Several high profile managerial and general manager changes. Astros final sale and 2013 move to the American League West. Two more wild card teams added to post-season play. Players and owners come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. And in the Twins’s realm, Bill Smith is fired and replaced by Terry Ryan. Shortly after, Jamey Carroll is signed to a two-year deal to fill one gaping hope in the lineup. Now preliminary reports have Ryan Doumit coming to the Twins on a one-year deal.

It may be just that this year is fresh in memory, but it appears to me that this off-season has much more significant activity than last year and it is not even December yet. I look for more activity to come on the part of the Twins, although it is highly unlikely that they will sign any of the top free agents. As of now, it looks very much like they will not even be signing either Cuddyer or Kubel.

Following are some of my thoughts on the big changes in baseball.

After mulling it over for a while, my early reaction of ambivalence about the Astros move to the AL West has given way to grudging agreement that this will be an improvement over the unbalanced alignment that will still be in effect for 2012. The key is going to be how the schedule is set up. At least there is the possibility (probability?) that teams in the same division are going to play identical schedules.

I’m not all that excited about interleague play every day of the season, but that comes with the odd number of teams per league. I hope before too long a decision is made to either make the DH the rule for both leagues or go back to pitchers hitting for both leagues. That would even the playing field and make daily interleague play less onerous for teams to manage.

Much media discussion has already occurred over the wild card decision. Not surprisingly, passionately expressed opinions vary. I like the change, mostly because it makes winning the division more important. I also like the drama of a single game playoff. The Twins have experienced the euphoria and the agony that comes with the outcome of such a match up. Two sudden death games to open the post-season will provide similar intensity each fall.

What more will this off-season bring? We shall see. Next step, winter meetings in December.

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