Monday, May 25, 2020

Veterans, prospects and the legitimacy of a 2020 World Series title

As MLB continues to work through IF/HOW a 2020 season will be played, I have a few thoughts.

Will I see you again?

If MLB games are not played this season due to COVID-19, there are several players that might never see the field at a professional level again. The first player that comes to mind for me is Yankees' mainstay, Brett Gardner. Despite Gardner's resurgent 2019 season, will a full year away from the game affect a player who will turn 37 this August?

I feel like the answer is yes. This isn't because I doubt Gardner's desire to keep going, nor the effort level required to land him on an MLB roster. Rather, the market for players in their early 30's, let alone late 30's, becomes worse each year so missing an entire season might make that player less attractive than a young player. Or will it...

Development hits brick wall

Some young players that will not be able to play a minor league season could have a difficult time jumping straight back in. Even with the anticipation of expanded rosters, only certain teams -- think the Orioles, Pirates and Tigers -- will use those spots to allow significant development time for prospects that were already on the horizon for an MLB breakthrough or are valued enough to ensure they get bits of time on the field.

Meanwhile, clubs that possess legitimate postseason aspirations will be less likely to play prospects on a regular basis, especially with a shortened season. These minor leaguers could see their development hit a brick wall as they lose actual game speed reps. Some will argue that those prospects will at least benefit from sitting in the big league clubhouse (six feet apart of course) for a season. Surely, the off-field impact could carry some long-term significance, BUT ONLY IF veterans players take the time to take a kid under their wings. With a championship on the line where will veterans' focus be centered; on a ring or the 20-year-old Double-A player? Speaking of rings...

Legitimacy of a 2020 World Series championship

Will a World Series crown in a season that encompasses 80 or so games, playing an adjusted schedule, in revamped divisions be considered legitimate? The way I see it, if MLB commissions a World Series trophy with a 2020 champion engraved on it, then it counts.

Members of the winning organization, whether rookies, players at the end of their careers or front office staffers should fully embrace their World Series ring. For the players, think about the radical different circumstances they will have played through. Then consider the time that players and team officials have invested to get to the point of winning a World Series.

Personally, I find it easy to see that a World Series championship would matter to all involved; half season or not.