Today, Joe Torre, MLB's Vice President for Baseball Operations spoke with reporters at the GM Meetings in Milwaukee. Among the topics he discusses were replay, September roster limits, and realignment.
Replay: This has such a simple answer. Replay needs to be expanded in baseball, and even the oldest and crustiest among us are starting to agree. However, nobody seems quite sure how to do it, and MLB has made clear that one of the biggest issues is pace of game. MLB is worried that an NFL-like system where the coach requests a replay, the officials review it, and say whether or not the call stands. This would have a small effect on the game's pace, and would also give teams a limited number of replay opportunities.
What they should do: This is so clear to me, and I don't know why nobody else is championing this cause. You introduce a fifth umpire. He sits in the booth and reviews every call that is remotely close. Home runs, fair/foul, safe/out, caught/trapped, everything. He has a telephone, and the crew chief (or the home plate umpire, whatever) has a bluetooth headset that the fifth umpire can call down and say either 1) the call was bad, this was the actual result, or b) this is a tough one, we need the whole crew/the crew chief to review it.
This accomplishes two things: one, and I can't stress this enough, most importantly, the right call is made. That should always be the goal, and for everybody that pines for 'the human element', there is enough failure in baseball and in life. We don't need the game to be unfair as well. Secondly, this cuts down on game time, because arguing is removed. Along with replay, institute a strict 'no arguing' policy.
The umpires are always right already, after you add 100% replay they are factually right, and by arguing with them you are essentially automatically wrong. Arguing is punishable by immediate ejection, and suspensions will be handed out swiftly and easily. Additionally, a manager may come out of the dugout for the following reasons: to make a double switch; to make a pitching change; to check on an injured player. If he steps on a baseball field for any other reason, he is ejected and if he proceeds to argue, it's suspensions, all day, baby. Terry Francona talks about wanting an explanation on a given play: wait until after the game. There is replay, you have to trust that the umpires get all of the calls right. Questioning their authority, now backed by technology, not only shows them up, but takes up all-important game time. Replay needs to be instituted.
September rosters: Currently, the active roster holds 25 men, any of whom may be used in a given game, in any capacity in compliance with the rules of baseball. In September, however, the active roster expands to 40 men, and teams generally add 5-10 players in that month, either to get veteran minor leaguers some big-league at bats, for playoff-bound teams to rest their regulars, or for non-playoff teams to get a look at their young prospects against MLB competition. In the past couple of years this has drawn ire from baseball people as unfair, and I don't disagree.
What they should do: The rosters should be allowed to expand to 40. I have no problem with this, it helps teams that are battered be in better shape for postseason ball, and it lets us see prospects we might not otherwise see. It is unfair, however, to allow the usage of 40 players in a given game. It is not the rules under which the team has been playing for five months, it is not the rules under which they will be playing in October. You let the team have 40 on an active roster, but before the game, they must designate 25-27 (I'm not heartless) players that will be eligible to play that night. You want to call up a third catcher for the month, great, but you're not using 10 pitchers a night.
Realignment: This is very exciting, I can't wait for it.