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Matt Snyder | CBS Sports MLB Insider

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
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May 16, 2023 5:57 am

Matt Snyder | CBS Sports MLB Insider

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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May 16, 2023 5:57 am

MLB Insider for CBS Sports Matt Snyder joins the show to talk all the happenings & story lines around the first month+ of the season.

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Find out more at slash cy. That's S-E-E-W-H-Y. We welcome our friend and colleague, Matt Snyder, writer, reporter, insider for CBS Sports. And I think, Matt, the number one topic of conversation the last time we had you on the show was the pitch clock. The violations, the pace of play, going back to spring training and as we're coming out of it, we were talking about how this would impact the game in 2023.

I hear nothing about it anymore. You're immersed in the game though. Do you still hear about the pitch clock and the pace of play now that we're into mid-May?

Very, very few and far between. Every once in a while, I'll see a complaint on social media about how they're such in a rush to play the games and I'm just not seeing it. I don't feel like they're rushing. I feel like they're just playing instead of standing around all night. I don't think that people would notice it if not for the score bug on most broadcasts has the pitch clock on it so you can see it and every once in a while there's a violation. But even the violations go almost so seamlessly, a lot of times I don't think people even notice it.

You just see like there's an extra ball or strike and think you just missed the pitch or something. So probably we'll be more focused on it during the playoffs, for example, or if it gets to be a big spot. But Will has been playing this way for so long, I don't think there's going to be much of an impact come playoff time. So really it's just the game's removal at a lot quicker pace. There's a lot less standing around.

There's a lot less dead time. I think it's a good way to hopefully continue to bring in casual fans and keep them instead of driving them away when they're sitting there staring at guys standing around doing nothing and saying like, hey, this is actually exciting. I kind of feel like if when to cut off beer sales is the biggest complaint, then baseball has finally struck it rich with this formula, but also the fact that people would miss two innings if they were standing in a concession line. Well, and I want to say this too, the diehard fans who are complaining and thinking they liked the game how it was, well, that's fine, but we're not going anywhere anyway.

It's more about selling the game to a new group of fans selling to the next generation, maybe bringing back casual fans who had lapsed with the way that the game had gone. And one of the big things is telling a family on a weeknight, you can go to a game and still get home at a reasonable hour. And instead of having to leave the game early, maybe where now you're kind of very, very likely to be able to see the end of the game. Whereas before you probably would have to leave a few innings early because the games are taking too long. And I think that's a big deal. As much money as it costs people to go to the games, you don't see NBA teams or NFL teams essentially telling fans, well, it takes three and a half, four hours into all hours of the night.

So you're probably going to have to leave before the game's over or just be really tired for work tomorrow. We don't, I don't think we should be trying to make people make that choice. So that's one of the main reasons that I like it. How are pitchers and hitters adjusting? Because we got a few complaints and then of course the violations early on.

I think most of them are okay with it. Occasionally you'll see a quick little complaint or you'll see maybe signals got crossed or just tonight I saw in particular Christopher Morrell on the Cubs as a rookie. Well, he was a rookie last year. He's a second year man, but he just came up for the minors where they do have a clock by the way, but I don't know if maybe the umpires are operating it differently. There was some confusion, but it was just a quick discussion with the umpire. That's most of the stuff that we see is whether it's a pitcher or a hitter discussing with the umpire, like, Hey, what was going on there?

Why couldn't I do this, this, or this? And again, those are the types of things that will be ironed out throughout the course of the season. But also there's discussions about a lot of other things with the umpires, not just revolving around the clock.

So some of that's just kind of normal. Matt Snyder of CBS is with us covering baseball about 40, 41 games into the season now. And since it was a quiet night on the playoff stage, it's a great opportunity to catch up with the diamond drama.

It's After Hours with Amy Lawrence here on CBS Sports Radio. What is the secret sauce for the Miracle Tampa Bay Rays, Matt? They are incredibly good at scouting.

I think it's other organizations, but also themselves. They know how to bring out the best in their players, but they also know what players they can target from other teams who are undervalued, whether it's a Harold Ramirez before last season started, for example, or Randy Arazarena when he was kind of a cast off from the Cardinals, different type of guys. Yandy Diaz wasn't really that heralded when they got him from, from Cleveland. They just target some of these guys and they get the absolute best out of them.

Mix in Wanda Franco, who's a superstar at age 22 right now. They've got a great mix there, you know, Shane McClanahan, another homegrown guy. They're heading up their rotation on the arms front. They, again, they just know which arms they can target.

It's always going to be cheap guys. And then they're going to get the absolute best out of them. They're going to teach them how to miss bats. They're going to teach them how to play kind of within their system. They're just really, really good at it. Targeting the types of guys that they think are going to fit into their system and getting the absolute best out of them. How much staying power do they have with that formula?

I think a lot because they don't tie themselves to guys long-term. It's, it's almost easy coming because they did have the Wanda Franco signing. Maybe that's this generation's version of Evan Longoria who signed a couple of long-term deals there before he went to another team. But it's, for the most part, they do things, like I said, with like Harold Ramirez, for example, before last season, the Cubs had traded for him and then the Cubs didn't want him anymore. So the Rays just grabbed him.

He's hitting over 300 with an over 500 plugging right now. It's just, I think they can continue to have success in finding these types of guys at the margins, just because they're so good at identifying them. The only way it would get away from them is if a lot of other teams got as good at this as they did, but they're just better.

It's amazing. Only team in Major League Baseball that is better than 30 wins at this point, though the entire American League East is above 500. We're certainly seeing other teams in the AL start out hot like the Texas Rangers.

Matt, what are the chances that all these moves that the Rangers have made over the last two or three off seasons are finally paying off? I think that they're gonna continue to stay in the wild card mix. I do think the Astros are gonna run them down maybe even a little quickly right here because the Astros have won five of six all of a sudden. Jose Altuve is not that far from coming back. Alex Bregman just hit a big home run.

Maybe he's gonna get going. The Astros are gonna be there. They're the Astros.

They're great. The thing about the Rangers that I thought heading into the year was they have so much upside, especially in the rotation, but they also have so many pratfalls, especially with injury risk. And we've already seen Jacob deGrom get hurt.

But we know all about the injury history of Nathan Evaldi, John Gray, Martin Perez, Andrew Haney. They have a rotation full of guys who can pitch like aces for stretches but can go down for six weeks at a moment's notice. If somehow they can get to the playoffs and all those guys are firing on all cylinders, they could make a Phillies-like World Series run.

It's just a question of are they gonna get to the playoffs or if they do, are all those guys gonna be healthy and upright? Because, like I said, Evaldi right now would be an all-star and would be in the mix with Cy Young. Jacob deGrom is Jacob deGrom.

We know all about that. Just getting those two guys right when they're throwing as well as they can for the playoffs, that's a heck of a one-two punch right there. And that's kind of why I said the Phillies there with Nolan Wheeler last year. And offensively, they've had the best offensive baseball.

Corey Stieger's only played 11 games. They have upside on both things. They're gonna be streaky. They're gonna have some real down moments and maybe we haven't seen the lowest of the lows, but they'll get hot again.

They're just gonna be really streaky. Next to the Rays, they have the highest run differential in baseball. For the Rays though, maybe it's more about how stingy the pitching is as opposed to just the hitting. While we're talking about the American League West, the Angels are still above .500. That may be an accomplishment in and of itself in mid-May. Otani on the mound tonight also has a ton of bases.

He's busy all the time. The better Otani plays, how does it impact his future and whether he stays with the Angels? I think a lot of it has to do with if the Angels are a playoff team or not because he has made clear in the nicest way possible because that's how Otani is.

I love it. But it's been made very clear that he does not like missing the playoffs at all and he's tired of missing the playoffs and he wants to play for a contender. If they fall out of contention, that's when you worry about the rumors picking up. Are they even going to be able to pull off a trade? That makes sense when it seems like you're trading an ace and one of the best hitters in the league. It seems like it's two players, but somebody who's going to be trading for them would say, well, yeah, it might be like two players, but if one gets hurt, they both get hurt.

It's the same dude. And it's only a couple months after the trade deadline. I don't know if anybody could match up, which means the Angels are just left holding the bag when he's probably not going to resign with them if they don't make the playoffs. If they do stay in contention though, that'll be really fun because I think having an Otani and Trout in the playoff mix would be incredibly good for baseball. It would be a lot of fun. Anthony Rendon has been hitting pretty well, especially lately.

Of course, now he just got hurt. Speaking of the injury issues that we just talked about, but it's a team that would be fun to be in the national consciousness in terms of winning games and not just having Otani and Trout. It'll be interesting to see if they can hang around. And if they do, if they're going to be the ones who can resign them, because you know the Dodgers are going to put the full court press on them.

That's right in the same area of the country. You know the Mets are all the way on the other side of the country. I'm sure maybe the Yankees will throw their hat in the mix. There are other mega market teams like the Cubs or Rangers and not a mega market team, but we have heard that the Padres might be in on him as well, believe it or not. So it could get really fun. Seriously, Matt, if the World Baseball Classic was any indication, we need him on the game's biggest stage in October.

We need it. It was amazing to see that big double and how crazy he went and then to see him go back out to the bullpen and come in and start feeling a hundred out of the bullpen. Can you imagine that in like a World Series game seven, having him, let's say he started game five so they know they can bring him back in relief.

He's in the order. He's taking important at bats. Then he's trying to hustle out to the bullpen to get ready.

Then he's coming in like that would be surreal. Matt Snyder is with us to talk some baseball here on this Monday night into a Tuesday morning. It's after hours on CBS Sports Radio. All right, you bring up the Dodgers. The last time you and I spoke in spring training, end of spring training, there are a lot of doubts around the Dodgers and the fact that they maybe didn't make enough improvements to stick with, say, the Padres or even to win the NL West again. Yes, there's a long way to go, but they have taken off like a rocket. What's gotten into the Dodgers, Matt?

Here's the thing. In a way, they're like the Rays with money. We've seen that they can pull off trade for Mookie Betts and then do the huge signing with Freddie Freeman. Again, I expect them to be in on Autani.

But also, they're so good at figuring out how to scramble and plug holes at the margins when they need to. We've seen them take cast-offs like Chris Taylor and Max Muncie, make them into a big deal. We've seen them just this year. Gavin Lux was supposed to take over at shortstop when Trey Turner signed elsewhere. And he tore his ACL. Well, they kind of rearranged the furniture and James Outman ends up getting plugged in centerfielder as an everyday role.

And he would be the National League Rookie of the Year right now. They're just so good at being able to do stuff like that. And remember, it was several years ago, but when we first found out about Cody Bellinger at the big league level, it was because Adrian Gonzalez got hurt. That's just the way they operate.

It's always next man up and they always need to find a guy to plug in there. And of course, they have the superstars, you know, with Freeman and Betts and Will Smith. Clayton Kershaw, by the way, ever heard of him having another huge year? Another huge year. You can't say enough about how good they are organizationally. Yeah, you're right about Kershaw.

He leads them in pretty much every category. What do you make of the sweep over the Padres this past weekend? Now, they play a lot of games. I get it. It's still early in the season, but the Padres were supposed to be able to exercise their demons here. Yeah. I mean, I was all in on the Padres winning the division before the season.

So my first thought was shame on me. Like, until the Dodgers actually show that they're not going to be, you know, they've won the division every year since 2012, except for the time that the Giants won 107 games, but the Dodgers won 106. Until they actually show, that was so dumb of me to not hit the Padres over them.

Look, there's still plenty of time. And I do think the Padres are going to get hot, but it was probably the Dodgers kind of making a statement these last two weekends. Look, they took two or three in San Diego. Then they swept them in Dodger Stadium.

Those happened on consecutive weekends. Hey, just a little reminder here who actually runs this division. That's kind of the way I looked at it. But again, Padres could get hot. They have so much talent there. I'm expecting a hot streak from them at some point.

And we're only a fourth of the way. What is a team right now that you would call a dark horse that has piqued your attention in this first quarter of the season? Maybe the Blue Jays. I know that the Yankees kind of kicked their teeth in tonight, but 24 and 17, they're 12 and four at home. They haven't played that many home games, but they've been great at home.

They look really good at times, but it's not like you could look at them and say, oh, well, everything's gone right for them because they have a lot of guys who aren't playing nearly as well as I believe they're going to play. So I think the Blue Jays could really hit a surge there. And especially with the Rays overshadowing everybody in the ALEs, the Orioles ahead of the Blue Jays kind of getting a lot of attention as well they should because of how low they were down in the dumps two years ago, kind of on the up and up right now and playing really good baseball. I feel like the Blue Jays might be lying in the weeds a little bit there. I think the Pittsburgh Pirates, just for the fact that the fans actually have something to be so excited about, they're still above 500.

It may not last. In fact, they've taken a bit of a downturn in the last two weeks. Still, for Pittsburgh fans to actually have a reason to cheer into mid-May is a step forward. 20 and 8 was a heck of a start, and it was cool to see PNC Park relatively full again. Didn't quite take me back to like the wild card game where they were chanting at Johnny Cueto and he dropped a baseball that Russell Martin had a home run because that was amazing.

It showed how that place could be rocking if they were a relevant team again, and that would be fun. Don't think it's happening though. Yeah, since that 20 and 8 start, they are 11, 2 and 11. So yeah, they're collapsing on top of themselves. But still over 500 as you said. Maybe they can kind of get a little bit back and stop the skids here, but I'm not expecting that.

But still, it was nice, like I said, to see the crowds relatively full there. I like the use of past tense, poor Pirates fans. All right, before I let you go, Matt, it kind of rocked the baseball world a few weeks ago. The A's are the only team right now that do not even have double figure wins, but they've got other stuff going on as they get closer and closer to a move to Vegas. We're hearing now about stadium proposal and $1.5 billion in Las Vegas.

What's the reaction to that? I think that it's mostly shame on A's ownership and how it was long. One of the really good organizations in baseball and things kind of fell off the rails. The stadium situation ended up being bad. They tried to get with the city and the county in the Oakland area.

Somehow, it didn't work out. Most of the blame from the outside is going on A's ownership and saying they should have done a lot more to try to stick there in the area. I'm interested to see how things go in Las Vegas. It will be the smallest television market in baseball, beating out the Brewers.

Not really beating out, I guess, but there is the aspect there of the travel. I know that, for example, especially in football, when they only have eight or nine home games, it's pretty easy to sell a lot of tickets to opposing fans when it's only one time a week and it's eight or nine games. It's got to be a little bit tougher when it's 81 home games, but it is a series. It's three at a time.

I know that the teams who don't go there often, for example, that are large market, Travelwell, Cubs, Cardinals, Braves, teams like that from the National League who don't go there a lot, I have no doubt that they will probably send flocks of fans there and the A's will make their money from that way, but is that really how to grow a team to rely on opposing fans to fill your ballpark? I don't know. I'm interested.

Certainly, Vegas is the hot commodity in sports these days, though, and a lot of owners willing to spend a lot of money to get there and to dress up their teams, so we'll see how that unfolds. You can find Matt on Twitter at MattSniderCBS. It's a writer and a power ranker. I just think that's such a great phrase to put into a noun form.

Power ranker for CBS Sports, Major League Baseball. It's always great to catch a couple minutes with you. We'll look ahead to the halfway point and have you back on the show again. Thanks, Matt. All right. Thank you.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-16 06:41:59 / 2023-05-16 06:51:04 / 9

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