Baltimore Orioles: Should MLB re-think roster rules?


Seattle is in town tonight to take on the Baltimore Orioles, who of course dropped two-of-three to Anaheim over the weekend. The commonalities in these series’ of course are that they’re both against west coast teams. Later in the season the O’s will also get a visit from Oakland, before reciprocating these three teams with visits to their parks in August.

Make no mistake about the fact that these cross-country trips are trying on teams, whether they’re going from east to west or west to east. There’s no greater feeling for a ballclub than getting to that final getaway day game before heading back home after a long road trip across the country. Nevertheless, it’s part of the game and players and coaches alike go into the season knowing that they’ll have to deal with this.

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But is there potentially a manner in which MLB could make things a bit easier for teams? Mind you, this is literally just an idea off the top of my head – so work with me here! Over the course of the past ten years or so, we’ve started seeing teams have their minor league affiliates closer to them. The Orioles’ triple-A team was the Rochester Red Wings forever and ever. Then for a short period it was Ottawa, and now of course it’s Norfolk.

The O’s of course have had Frederick (which is close) for some time, and Bowie since their inception as well. But triple-A traditionally wasn’t as close as it is now. And the same is true of quite a few franchises, which makes it very easy to call guys up or send them down as needed.

But when teams go on these road trips which are long and/or far, if anything they’re at a disadvantage as opposed to their opponent. One might argue that these things work themselves out when and if the roles are reversed, however that’s not the point. If an injury occurs or a roster move needs to be made, a team such as the Orioles might find themselves in a pickle if they’re in a place such as Oakland or Seattle.

So perhaps it would pay to allow teams to perhaps expand their rosters

Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

unofficially when they go on these trips. By unofficially, I mean that perhaps one pitcher and one position player could be placed on a taxi squad of sorts during road trips of great distance or time. In effect, these players would be available to be formally called up in a pinch if the club finds itself in an emergency situation.

One might argue that anyone in the minors is in theory available at anytime in a pinch. But again, if the O’s are on the west coast and in need of some bullpen support for whatever reason as soon as today, it’s almost an impossibility for the team to get someone from Norfolk to wherever the O’s are in time.

This sounds like a pretty far-fetched idea for sure, and I’m the first one to admit that. However in an age where the commissioner is willing to discuss shortening the season among other things, is it really that far out there? Mind you that I’m not talking about a simple road trip to New York or Boston in saying this. It’s something that would be justified for a club like the O’s when they head out to the west coast for a week-and-a-half (or a club like Seattle when they’re on the east coast). For a team like the ChiSox or Chicago Cubs, when it could be justified when they play three series road trips – or something along those lines.

It’s just an idea, however it’s one that I presume would be popular among managers and GM’s. No team wants to have to play with a short bench for a game just because a guy can’t get a cross-country flight before tomorrow, or something along those lines. Furthermore, it would give teams a chance at letting their top prospects be with the big league club for a period, even if they aren’t formally on the roster. Guys could sit in the bullpen or in the dugout, and get the feel of how things run in the big leagues. Mike Wright sat in the ‘pen for four games before getting his first start on Sunday – and we saw how that went.

The Orioles open the aforementioned three-game set with Seattle this evening at Camden Yards. Miguel Gonzalez will be on the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Taijuan Walker. This will also be the return of Nelson Cruz to Camden Yards, this time of course as a visitor. My hope is that he’s well received by Orioles fans this week; he gave Baltimore everything he had last year and then some. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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