Who says that baseball isn't a physically taxing sport? Answer: Jim Riggleman!
● Rangers team president Nolan Ryan, general manager Jon Daniels and pitching coach Mike Maddux all affirm that veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood will retain his rotation spot in spite of his recent struggles and the fact that his $12 million option for 2010 will vest if he manages to pitch just eight more innings, but "it may be others besides the Rangers baseball people who decide that Millwood won't pitch beyond Friday" (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
[I had originally composed a two-paragraph-long rant regarding the impracticality, potential fallout and headache-inducing absurdity of that final quote, but thought better of it. I'm now begnning to rethink that decision, so we'll hit on the main points and move on.
I'm not sure whether that particular sentence fragment was a last-minute addendum designed to drive traffic by virtue of its eyebrow-raising nature, but it's driving at a very, very serious implication (that being that the current ownership regime is willing to create long-lasting distrust in the clubhouse, undoubtedly draw the unyielding wrath of the MLBPA and worsen the Rangers' reputation around baseball in order to cut financial corners, or that Major League Baseball is actually running the entire show), and judging by Ryan's enclosed reaction, this strikes me as a case of an article trying to be made into a bigger story than the story itself.
Millwood-related non sequitur: Over his last four largely unsuccessful starts, Millwood has employed some variant of his fastball just 57.7 percent of the time; before August 19th, Millwood had wielded his heater 64.8 percent of the time, with that disparity likely being attributable to random variation ... but, then again, maybe not. In light of how often we are referred back to the "everything is pitched off the fastball" axiom in both written and spoken word, this statistical blip might well merit closer observation, because aversion to the fastball seems like a pretty direct way to sacrifice mound effectiveness.]
● Commissioner Bud Selig believes that there are two major changes -- slotting and the hotly debated worldwide draft -- that must happen "for the health of the sport" (Ken Rosenthal, FOXSports.com)
[I'm hardly the first person to espouse this viewpoint (Craig Calcaterra has liberally disseminated it), but how many major league ballclubs will want to maintain relatively expensive Latin American baseball academies for the purpose of talent identification and development -- and, ultimately and hopefully, procurement -- if no advantage exists in doing so?
In other words, why would teams pay to develop talent for other teams, knowing that the nature of a worldwide draft exponentially slashes their chances of being able to sign "their" players -- the players that they have invested their invaluable time and money into? And what sort of collateral damage does an international draft consequently wreak upon the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and other major baseball talent-producing countries? Competitive balance is a fine and noble thing, but you can't make these sorts of wholesale changes in isolation.]
Post-Season Odds Update: Boston, 81-58 -- 77.1 percent (-1.2 percent); Los Angeles, 84-55 -- 88.4 percent (+2.9 percent); Texas, 79-60 -- 34.4 percent (-1.7 percent).
Quick Hits: Lone Star Ball's Adam Morris rightly lambasts FOXSports.com's Gerry Fraley for baselessly claiming that the next ownership group to hold a majority stake in the Rangers "must be ready" to outlay $200 million to purchase a retractable roof; the idea is, in fact, cost-prohibitive and impractical to such a degree that the Rangers would be better served by building a new venue from scratch, which isn't likely to be seriously considered for at least another decade ...
According to ESPN.com's Inside Edge scouting service, second baseman Ian Kinsler has watched his batting average on pitches thrown to the outer two-thirds of the plate plunge from .335 (2008) to .258 (2009), while his batting average on inside pitches has remained relatively static; his 15.0 percent line drive rate in 2009 remains the worst seasonal mark of his four-year major league career.