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A Modest Proposal

This post was not sponsored by the MLBPA. Seriously, it wasn’t. I resent the implication. At no point did I, or my friend Farm Boy, receive several cheesecakes and wads of cash in exchange for the writing and placement of this post.

I like the expanded rosters. The 40-man active roster should be permanent. Maybe this is just post-Darren Ford bliss, but I’d rather have a cadre of specialized bench players rather than a couple who need to fill multiple roles. I’d rather have a 15-man bullpen rather than watch hard-throwing relievers flame out every year from overuse.

Here’s what one of these hypothetical rosters could look like:

  • Eight starting position players
  • Five starting pitchers. Heck, maybe six or seven if you have them
Total: 13
  • One closer
  • Two setup men
  • Four middle men
  • Six relievers of dubious quality
  • One knuckleballer to throw for 15 innings if the game turns into a never-ending extra inning contest

Total: 14

  • Two defense-only middle infielders
  • Two backup catchers. Maybe three.
  • Three guys who could probably win Gold Gloves in center and steal 100 bases, but who can’t hit a lick
  • Two guys who can hit, but who can’t play in the outfield that well
  • One future Hall-of-Famer who can’t really get up from a sitting position without using a cane, but who can still hit 30 home runs
  • A right-handed slugger without a position
  • A left-handed slugger without a position

Total: 13

And then there’s the Giants’ permutation:

  • A bunch of players we would whine about. Forty or so. Probably Rich Aurilia.

You can see how much room there would be to complain, whine, and rosterbate. When the Giants lost to the Reds with Barry Zito on the mound in relief, it felt like losing on a technicality. Of course, the technicality is that the team had a short bullpen because they preferred to have a nine-man reserve outfield, but it still didn’t feel right. A 40-man roster would have eliminated the need to pitch a starter on short rest.

Rickey Henderson would still be playing. Imagine the bottom of the ninth when the other team has a semi-wild closer pitching. "Here, Rickey. Go up there, squat into a little armadillo ball, and work a walk. Then make them think you’re going to steal a base, even though you’re 78." That would be awesome.

Failed prospects could litter the rosters. Calvin Murray could still be one of those fast, rangy guys described up there. Tony Torcato could be the last man on the bench if you really, really wanted the ball put in play at any cost. Lance Niekro could be the knuckleballer and a positionless guy, which would essentially give you a super-strategic 41-man roster.

You could revive the Herb Washington experiment, and keep a spot at the end of the bench warm for a track star. Somewhere out there, you know there’s a guy who can intentionally foul off 99% of the pitches thrown to him. Put him up as the leadoff hitter against Ubaldo Jimenez, and make the pitcher either a) throw 40 pitches in the first inning, or b) hit the specialty player in the head, giving a free base runner. As a strategy, it’s probably the best one ever invented. It can’t fail.

I’m half-kidding with most of these, but I do legitimately love it when the rosters expand. Having a player like Ford on the roster is awesome, just for situations like last night. I’m not sure if I’d want the 40-man roster year round, but I’m not not sure. Because, hey, Barry Bonds. That would be cool. Put him on the 40-man roster, and tell him to show up every other homestand, or whenever he felt like it. Pay him the minimum. Profit.

Hold on. That’s a good one. I’m a gonna write a letter to Mr. Neukom now, if you don’t mind. We can get this done.