Tuesday, September 1, 2009

36 Questions: Why Do Rosters Expand in September?

Every September, ML teams are allowed to expand their rosters. They can add more players to help them out for the last month of the season. I’m just not real sure as to why they do it.

Because of the pitching rotations, baseball is already one of the few sports that really changes from the regular season to the post season. A football team that performs well in the regular season, probably will perform as well in the postseason. Unless someone gets hurt, most of the same players will play in each game. In baseball, that’s different. With the number of games played during the regular season, most teams use a five-man pitching rotation. So, a team with 5 pretty good pitchers will probably win more games than a team with two great pitchers, and three scrubs. In the postseason, though, the team with two great pitches can configure them so that’s really all you need. Just ask Arizona fans. So, what you get, is a team that is built for the regular season, but not the playoffs…ore vice versa. The September call-ups would look to add even another wrinkle. In the case of the Red Sox, they had a pretty deep bench, and pitching staff. They had the different qualities they’d like in bench players, and have benefited from that. Suddenly, other teams are allowed to improve their bench without trying. By sheer volume, they can have players on hand to do whatever they may find that they need. That happens in the pen too. Suddenly, the bullpen is stocked with any kinds of arms a team could want. So, what happens is to really have three seasons. There’s the regular season from April to August. In this season, teams are rewarded for depth, and careful bench selection. Then, when the playoff run starts, teams are given the advantage of quantity. Depth isn’t as important, because everyone has depth. You don’t need a guy who can play first, third and outfield. You just find a guy who can play first, one that can play third, and one that can play outfield. Not to mention, that most of these call-ups won’t be able to play in the postseason. So, for the most important month of the season, teams can use players they can’t use later. Why would baseball upset the competitive balance like that? There must be a good reason…right?

By September, many of the minor league seasons are winding down. It is nice for some of the top minor league talent to have something to do. Although, I remember the Red Sox teams of years gone by waiting to call up extra players so that they could compete in minor league playoff games. But, killing time better not be the reason. Is upsetting the league worth getting some youngster a couple extra at bats? Heck, lots of the time the call ups are on the bench anyway. It’s nice for older teams to have the extra subs on hand. It allows players to get a little extra rest after a long season of aches and pains. But, isn’t that forgiving the teams without the foresight to employ younger healthy players? Once again, a team that did a good job to obtain an advantage sees that advantage taken away. It’s nice for the call-ups. Most of them are making their ML debuts. For some of them, it will be the only time they spend on a Major League roster. But, I can’t imagine a league messing with things so players can feel good about themselves. You know, other than Joe Torre’s All-Star teams.

So, what’s the reason? What’s so important that MLB is willing to change the whole dynamic of the league. Why does it penalize smart teams when it matters the most? I don’t get it.

Why do rosters expand in September?

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