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It’s time for the expanded rosters outrage

Sep 6, 2013, 11:07 AM EDT

mystery man

I don’t much care for expanded September rosters, but it’s more of a conceptual thing for me than it is about some concern of grave injustice being done.

I don’t like teams with uneven amounts of players playing because it messes with my love of symmetry and fairness. I don’t like it when someone empties an 11-man bullpen because that either denotes or sometimes causes a sloppy game.  I fear that it may impact playoff races inasmuch as some teams are using spring training rules while others are trying, but if I’m being honest I can’t point to any instance in which this has actually occurred. It’s a potential problem, but my predisposition to hate expanded rosters aside, I doubt it’s actually a pressing, real problem.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today talks to many in the game who do, however, and frames it thusly:

It is the most asinine rule in baseball.

It directly impacts the pennant races, alters the integrity of the game, and could mean the difference between a team sitting home or playing in Game 7 of the World Series.

I agree it’s a dumb rule. I’d change it or make it uniform or whatever. But I really do think that the concern of folks like me should be reined in a bit by the absence of any actual evidence that it’s caused real, significant harm.

  1. okwhitefalcon - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Expanded roster outrage is climbing the ladder in the hierarchy of outrages hot on the tail of “All Star snub outrage”, “post season award outrage” and the outrage to end all outrages – “bunting outrage.”

    • natstowngreg - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      And “Hall of Fame snub outrage.” And “lack of instant replay outrage.” And “drug policy outrage.”

      There are so many targets for outrage, and so much outrage looking for targets.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:54 AM


    • ezthinking - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Pitcher win-loss outrage?

    • dawgpoundmember - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      Designated Hitter and astroturf

    • cur68 - Sep 6, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      RBI outrage (AKA: Brandon Phillips Outrage)

      Dusty Baker Outrage (and dang him to heck, too)

  2. jm91rs - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I think it’s fun for fans to see some of the younger talent face major league opposition, but it is kind of a crazy thing.Take the Reds Cardinals series for example. Dusty Baker can be the dumbest manager ever using a guy with 12 career plate appearances to pinch hit for the catcher, then putting Mesoraco in for him when it’s time to play defense. The game goes 16 innings and that absolutely should have come back to haunt him, but there’s an extra army of people on the team so Dusty doesn’t even have to make smart decisions.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      What’s his excuse for not making smart decisions during the other 5 months of the season?

  3. Marty McKee - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    I don’t understand the outrage. Every team can expand to 40 players if it wants. If some teams are only going with 28 players and others expand to a full 40, why is that the fault of the rulebook and not the teams that only expand to 28? The rule *is* fair.

    As for Nightingale, I’m sure we can all come up with baseball rules more asinine than this one.

    • stratomaticfan - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      The outrage really should be that the rules change after 5 months (during the stretch drive). I have no issue with expanded rosters. However, I think teams should designate 25 man active rosters each day (without being to change the 5 starters over a 5 game stretch) in order to preserve the integrity of the amount of pitchers/position players that can be used on any given day.

  4. chew1985 - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Another case of X-RosterRage. And ace reporter Calcaterra is ON IT.

  5. kopy - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    I’m okay with it as long as everybody is allowed expanded rosters, instead of everybody except Les Expos de Montréal.

    • blacksables - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      The Expos were also allowed to expand their roster, just chose not to do so for the games. They would routinely bring up young players and let them sit on the bench for a month, and travel with the team, to get used being in the majors.

      They just didn’t allow them to play.

      Organizational rules are chosen by the organization, not the league.

      • kopy - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:46 AM

        When MLB owned the Expos in 2003, they refused to allow the higher budget so that the Expos could make the call-ups. Then they faded down the stretch in a playoff race.

      • blacksables - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        Well, if the September call-ups were so good that they were going to keep the team from fading, then they should have been on the big club all year.

        And comparing the mess the Expos were to this situation is a bad comparison. MLB didn’t want the Expos to win, so they could be moved. Different problem entirely.

      • kopy - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:33 PM

        MLB not wanting the Expos to win was the entire point of my original post that you took issue with.

  6. Mark Armour - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    This is why baseball sucks. Oh wait, it actually is great and we all love watching it? Hmm, I am confused.

    I have enjoyed the use of pinch-runners this week with the Reds and Red Sox. I wish there was a way teams would carry one all year. It would have to be some sort of pitching staff limit however.

  7. runhigh24 - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    The concepts of “symmetry” and “fairness” went out the window when MLB let some teams spend $200 million on payroll and other teams $30 million.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      I don’t know. The teams on opposite ends of that spectrum each have 1 world series title in the last 10 years. All of the other world series titles in the other years were won by teams with payroll in between.

  8. runhigh24 - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    The concepts of “symmetry” and “fairness” went out the window when MLB let some teams spend $200 million on payroll and other teams $30 million.

  9. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    I enjoy that it allows younger players to get a taste of the show. And it give the fans a sneek peak at some rising talent, but I really, really, really hate it when managers decide they can use 15 pitchers and 18 position players to get through a 9 inning game.

  10. Jack Marshall - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    It’s a bad rule, clearly. It didn’t bother me when I was following a bad team out of the running, and made some sense: give the fans some hope by showing them the coming stars, let some kids play who are fresh and have a reason to bust their butts, and let GM’s and managers get a sense of what they’ll have to work with and who might be trade bait. But the rule 1) means that the rules are different for the most crucial period of the pennant races than they were the rest of the year, which is just strange 2) It encourages the bad teams to tank in meaningful games (for their opponents) by playing a minor league team and 3) it does give some teams a new edge. The Red Sox use of Quentin Berry is a perfect example.

    I like the compromise September solution of making each team designate a 25 man roster for each series.

    • albertmn - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      But, if it is a bad team, shouldn’t the playoff bound team beat them anyway, regardless of who they start? If you play the Twins and they called Worley back up to start instead of Pelfrey, and call Aaron Hicks back up to start in LF instead of Clete Thomas, is it really going to change your team’s chance to win?

      The 25 man roster every day is silly. It will just mean the young guys sit on the bench and don’t play because even if you are sitting your starting position player, he will still want to be active or will pitch a fit if he isn’t. Other than deactivating your other starting pitchers, it wouldn’t make a difference.

      The real answer is that rosters should 26 or 27 guys all the time. When more than half the roster is usually pitchers on most teams, it leaves little wiggle room for guys who are mostly pinch hitters, defensive players, pinch runners, etc. and leaves fewer platoons at positions than you used to see when teams carried 10 pitchers. The game has changed enough that the roster should be bigger all the time.

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    There are some minor advantages to be gained by contending teams using expanded rosters, and perhaps some advantages gained by opponents of non-contending teams facing minor league talent. Realistically though, the impact should be minimal.

    The contending teams have their best players on the 25 man roster already, and will continue to lean primarily on those players.

    Non contending teams are usually not subbing minor leaguers for healthy superstars. They are replacing their old scrubs or injured players with young scrubs/inexperienced players etc.

  12. ricardorobertasq - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    The biggest problem is it slows down the game. There is no competetive advantage because every team can do it. Buck Showalter advocated making teams select a 25 man roster for each series so as to allow any young players the opportunity to play, but not to have 300 bullpen changes per game.

  13. misterj167 - Sep 6, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    It’s still a better rule than the DH, because the DH changes one of the most fundamental concepts of the game: that everyone who hits plays the field. Once you make that exception for pitchers, the logical conclusion is a team with a bigger roster where you have nine guys whose only job is to hit, and nine guys who play defense.

    I like the 40-man rule because for teams that are out of it, they can bring up new players, and for teams who are fighting for a playoff spot (or can coast a bit), they can get a little more rest for their starters so they’re fresh for the playoffs. I didn’t know about the bit with the Expos but regardless the rul applies to everyone, it’s up to them if they want to take advantage of it.

    • bh192012 - Sep 6, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      I don’t get why they expand rosters to 40, you should never need to play the 40th man on the squad. Why not just expand the rosters by 3. Then you can look at a few of your best potential players, without the extreme changes certain teams tend to do.

  14. danaking - Sep 6, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    I used to complain about this, but not anymore. Major league teams always have 40-man rosters; it’s just that only 25 can be on the active roster at a time. With teams shuttling players back and forth to AAA all year, practical rosters are closer to 28 or 30, with only 25 actually “active” at any given time.

    If teams have 40 man depth, let that be a benefit. Still, any player or pitcher they use in a game is not one of the 25-best players, so pennant teams take a risk by using the too much.

    The compromise suggested above would work well: designate 30 “active ” players for each series. The you get to have it both ways, yet not all the way either way.

  15. pastabelly - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Expanded rosters can turn an ordinary 4 hour Boston-NYY game into a 4.5 hour game with more situational pitching changes, etc. That should be the least of the arguments. Baseball needs to find way to play game closer to 2.5 hours, not deploy rules which increase length of games and change strategy.

    • albertmn - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      That’s because MLB doesn’t have the guts to enforce the timing rules in place against any teams, much less the East Coast darlings. There are already rules for the length of time it should take a pitcher to throw his pitch and I believe there is something for the batters as well, but neither is enforced.

  16. eatitfanboy - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I am not opposed to it completely, but the randomness seems odd to me. What other roster rule in all of pro sports is so lacking in uniformity? I mean really- “September 1st, you can call up a whole bunch of players, or none, or some, or whatever.”

  17. albertmn - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Due to expanded roster, many players start accruing service time earlier, and use up an option year that may not otherwise have been used. That means a few players may get to arbitration and free agency earlier than they would have otherwise. Plus, I’m pretty sure they make more money in the majors. Because of that, I don’t see that the players union would give it up.

  18. ohuetter - Sep 8, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    Didn’t Bochy use something like 11 pitchers in a September game last year. It was a win. Rings because of this? As a Giants fan I loved it but it goes against everything you’ve said above. #sfgiants

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