What sailors’ Dipoto, Servais think of shift ban and other rule changes
With the new collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association, the Mariners and the rest of the league must prepare for further rule changes.
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The changes will be minimal for Seattle in 2022, with the legacy runner on second base in extra innings that was used in 2020 and 2021 and the National League instituting the designated hitter. But things could get interesting in 2023 with some kind of expected ban on defensive changes, a step clock instituted, and the bases themselves getting bigger and bigger.
On Friday, we heard from Mariners general manager and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto both on Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk Show and in a video press conference, as well as manager Scott Servais on Wyman and Bob from Seattle Sports. They each shared their thoughts on some of the expected rule changes. Here’s a breakdown of what they had to say.
Dipoto in particular is in favor of some kind of shift ban, while Servais understands the reasoning behind it despite enjoying using the strategy on the pitch himself.
“I’m very intrigued by some of the rule changes that will likely take place a year from now. I’m maybe as happy about the idea of the quarterback ban (as anything else),” Dipoto said in his press conference. “It’s just going to make it a more interesting game to watch than baseball has sometimes become over the last few years and make the game go faster. That’s exciting stuff.
“…We all like to watch the game, but seeing a crisp, clean, athletic game is what baseball has always been about and we’ve moved away from that a bit. So I think the rule changes that are coming looming on the horizon are exciting that way.
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Servais told Wyman and Bob that he welcomes ways to make the game more exciting, but expressed some concern about the limited freedom currently given to managers.
“I think it’s always difficult to tell teams or coaches where you’re supposed to play your players,” Servais said. “I mean, it’s part of the strategy behind the game and the freedom you should have. But I also understand that we need to do some things to create a little more action in our game, more excitement. A few more hits, a few more baserunners would probably help with that.
“I kind of appreciate the strategy behind (the changes) – you absorb all the information and your analytics department tries to help you get your players in the right place. It’s a lot of fun doing stuff like that. But in Ultimately, we have to do what’s best for the game, and if baseball thinks that will help create more action on the field, then I’m all for it.
Consider this another rule that Dipoto is in favor of. It’s something that’s been used in the minor leagues for several years at this point, and with the Mariners’ incoming wave of highly regarded pitching prospects on the way, Dipoto said the franchise would be in a good position to transition to the level. MLB. if it happens in 2023.
“I love the pitch clock. We’ve been watching it in the minor leagues for a while. All of our young pitchers are in tune with it and it really makes the game easier to watch in a lot of ways.
No more legacy runner in extra innings
That much-maligned rule will be dropped immediately, but Servais admitted he liked the rule simply because it worked well enough for the Mariners. Seattle was an MLB best 14-7 in overtime in 2021, which factored in that the M’s also lead baseball in one-innings with a 33-19 record.
“We took advantage of that,” Servais said with a laugh. “I thought we played really well in the extra innings and sometimes we needed a little help starting the runner at second base…I thought our guys handled that and executed really well at the end games, and (it) won us a lot of close games… I was always tied to, you know, ‘we’re going to roll with this.’
“I think the people making these decisions are trying to do things that improve the game and make it a more positive experience for our fans, and get rid of that ‘start the guy second’ rule, I agree with that. But I have to be honest, I enjoyed it. I thought it helped us.
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