I’m back again with my fever dream list of things teams should do in 2024. If you missed the inaugural installment, you can find it right here, and please direct all blame for the return of this gibberish squarely on Myles Nelson. Just good advice in general, there, to be honest. Also remember, this is a vibes-based piece, not anything approaching serious analysis as you’ll find in Wynn’s piece discussing FA landing spots. FAs are FAs, but moves? Moves are whatever you want them to be.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Pick A Better City Connect Color
I’m not letting Baxter’s distressingly realistic mouth off the hook here, but I have a new bone to pick with the World Series Runners Up this year: Their City Connect uniform color choice. When I first saw it, I thought it was a cool off-white or cream-ish color, but then I tuned into a game and found that it’s actually a terrible, weird, off-putting yellow. The color grading and white balance on any broadcast from Chase Field is weird (I assume because of whatever lights they have in there?) but I was shocked to see how…unappealing the color was. I think I read that it’s supposed to be like desert sand but it looks more like something you cough up before realizing you should probably call out for a couple of days. Which is a shame, because it’s a great-looking set, in my opinion.
But here’s what I’ll say: The problem is almost assuredly me. The game is awash in cream, off-white jerseys and I bet I’m on the wrong side of history here.
Atlanta – Short King Rotation
Imagine it: Spencer Strider, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Marcus Stroman, Sonny Gray. The tallest listed height among the group would be Strider at 6′ 0″, so we can safely assume he’s actually 5′ 10″. Everybody’s talking about how VAA is the new market inefficiency, so it’s time for Atlanta to lean fully into either maximizing or minimizing it, I honestly don’t understand how that stuff works.
Yes, there’s still the tall matter of one Mr. Max “Six Foot Four” Fried, but he’s a Nice Jewish Boy so we have no choice but to support him in any and all endeavors.
Baltimore Orioles – Put On Your Big Boy Pants
Sorry to be serious here, and as a Yankees fan feel free to chalk this up as sour grapes, but: the trade deadline was a disaster for Baltimore in 2023. The O’s were leading the AL East, still had six (six!) names on the Top 100 prospects list, and practically all of them were blocked by dudes who still had rookie eligibility. They had a clear need for front-end arms in a year where there were several available, and they came away with…Jack Flaherty and Shintaro Fujinami. Flaherty threw 34.2 innings of 6.75 ERA ball between the rotation and the pen, along with a two-inning stint out of the pen ALDS. Fujinami threw 29.2 innings of 4.85 ERA relief before being left entirely off the postseason roster. That’s real bad! You have to assume the O’s window opened a year or so early here, but it’s open! And it’s probably going to stay open for a while now. But they still play in the AL East, the Rays were nipping at their heels pretty much all year, and it seems hard to bank on the rest of the division just throwing up their hands and getting worse this winter.
You gotta push some of those chips in, Peter!
Boston Red Sox – Strictly Piggyback Houck And Sale
Ok this is a very specific policy prescription and might actually almost be realistic but my original idea of “Be A 5th Place Team Forever” is just mean, so here goes. Chris Sale is injury-prone these days in his old age (nb: he’s two years younger than your intrepid author, who may have pulled something in his back while sitting on a train) and Tanner Houck, while younger, also isn’t the picture of health and longevity over the course of a season. So why do I want them specifically to work with each other?
Because of their mirror-image sliders:
Tanner Houck vs. Righty Chris Sale, Sliders (individual pitches + overlay) pic.twitter.com/31tEWpLksb
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 23, 2021
(That’s kind of a weird way to illustrate it but hopefully you get the point.)
Like some kind of weird snowbound Tampa Bay-dreamed-up hitter’s nightmare, imagine you have to just face this brutal slider for 8 innings, from either hand. Maybe we can also petition MLB to make a special rule where you get to alternate Sale and Houck each inning, but once you replace one of them, the other is also done for the day. I’d watch.
Chicago White Sox – Popular Uprising To Wrest Control From Reinsdorf
I don’t think I should need to explain this one too deeply. The team’s an absolute mess, the largest FA contract they’ve ever given out is five years, $75m which was given to Andrew Benintendi. There’s not much hope for a bounce-back season in 2024 after finishing 40 games below .500 in 2023. So I implore you, South Side faithful: Rise up! Cast off the yoke of Reinsdom! You have nothing to lose but your meddling owner who it seems like singlehandedly helped run your all-world broadcaster out of town to Detroit, the latest in the series of indignities that’s been heaped upon your once proud franchise! I will see you on the barricades!
Chicago Cubs – Trade For All Brewers
The Cubs pulled off a coup early in the offseason when they hired Craig Counsell pretty much as soon as possible following the expiration of his contract with the Brewers, and since then Milwaukee has already intimated it’s time to deal. So why stop at Counsell? How about the addition of Corbin Burnes to help him feel right at home in his new uniform? I will always agitate for the opportunity to run control-grouped baseball experiments, so let’s just have the Brewers play in a different park for a season and see what happens! For science!
Cincinnati Reds – No Veterans Allowed
Pop-quiz: who is the longest-tenured regular member of the projected Reds starting lineup in 2024?
That’s right, Tyler Stephenson, with just over three years of MLB service time. That’s not just the longest out of the bats, but would also be the longest out of any of the starting rotation, as well. While I’m quite sad that Joey Votto’s time in Cincinnati is over, it means they can now get even younger. Their longest-tenured roster membership is concentrated in the bullpen, and even then we’re talking about guys like Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone. Oh, and Luke Maile, but every team has to have the one endless-career journeyman these days, right?
Oh but wait sorry I forgot this is my weird vibes soapbox so: No, actually it’s not OK, I want to see the entire 26-man with less than three and a half years of service time, and even that’s pushing it, but I’m wildly biased in favor of Stephenson.
Cleveland Guardians – Oops! All Naylors
I have repeatedly called Josh Naylor a “good old-fashioned baseball psychopath” on this very website (it’s a good thing.) This year the Guardians added Bo Naylor to the roster, and it was pretty dang cool:
But when I see things like this, I can’t simply be content with only the two Naylors. There’s already another brother in professional baseball: Myles Naylor was Oakland’s first Competitive Balance Round round pick in the 2023 draft, so the first order of business should have been to trade Cal Quantrill for him instead of simply DFAing him. But there’s still plenty of time to grab him over the winter and then start casting a wider Naylor net to bring us the All Naylor Roster we deserve.
Colorado Rockies – Hire Mario DeGenz
Well, I dunno if Mario would actually like to work for the Rockies given their…well gestures vaguely at everything but their FO should at least really read and internalize his excellent six-part series “Pitching At Altitude” over at Purple Row. Not only would it improve the quality of the on-field product, but here’s one of his big points in the final installment “The Perfect Rockies Pitcher” (emphasis his:)
Basic strategy (pitch sequencing, etc) aside, the first step I would suggest would be to truly embrace breaking ball usage. This would pair nicely with our hypothetical preference for supination biased athletes and put us right in the middle of the modern game’s decreased fastball usage.
Yes please, absolutely give me more beautiful 12-6 rainbow curveballs and mean gyro sliders.
Detroit Tigers – Find Another Guy To Tell Amazing Bar Mitzvah Stories With Jason Benetti
Originally my directive for the Tigers was simply to “Treat Jason Benetti Like The Treasure He Is” but I think they will do that, given that they brought him on board and all to begin with. So instead, I’m asking them to back him up with the impossible: a guy with as many unhinged stories as Steve Stone, and also a willingness to tell them with little to no prodding or hesitation. Back in 2020, the man told a story about stuffing his suit pockets with red snapper at his own bar mitzvah because he wasn’t sure if he was going to have enough time at the buffet. Why was this a concern? Because “in those days I was a chunky little fellow.”
You can’t teach that kind of banter.
Houston Astros – The Year Of Singleton
Jon Singleton has had one of the more unheralded insane careers in baseball. From eighth-round pick for the Phillies in 2009 to the Astros top prospect in 2011, to a 50-game minor league suspension for failing two drug tests due to marijuana, to the Astros signing him to a five-year, $10m contract before he played a single MLB game in 2013, and then being released in 2018 with a total of 114 games played at the big-league level between two years. Singleton spent two years in the Mexican League before the Brewers signed him to a minor league deal late in 2021, finally promoting him to the big league club in 2023, before DFAing him, where he landed…back in Houston.
Singleton made his debut in 2023 in Baltimore, working a pinch-hit walk off of Félix Bautista and coming around to score on Kyle Tucker’s game-winning grand slam, and then having his first career multi-HR game three days later in his first game back in Houston since 2015.
It would be pretty rad if this was the beginning of the Singletonissaince, but the Astros already employ José Abreu to man first base, and a 32-year-old post-post-post-hype prospect isn’t likely to force the issue. I’ll still choose to look at the whole saga as a nice full-circle story, though.
Kansas City Royals – Create A Baseball Power Couple
You can’t let your parking lot mates in the NFL have all of the spotlight! You have several young, talented, handsome players on the roster, and surely Andy Reid can set up some kind of double date with Travis and Taylor and uhhhhh, Cole Ragans and (oh no I’m deeply uncool) somebody else roughly the same age and also a pop star?
Or heck, we already know Lorde has a predisposition towards the team, I bet she’d get along well with Vinnie Pasquantino, maybe they’d like to get drinks sometime!
Los Angeles Angels – Make Shohei An Offer He Can’t Refuse
Come on the absolute funniest way for The Shohei Ohtani Free Agency drama to end would be him re-signing in Anaheim. You know it, even if it would be terrible for him and baseball as a whole.
Start at a billion and work up from there.
In 2023, Mookie Betts played 107 games in RF, 70 at 2B, and 16 at SS. Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes said he’ll play “a lot” of 2B in 2024, but that’s boring. OF/2B is something of a well-trodden path in baseball, and to quote Tom Hardy from Inception: “Mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
Dual-eligibility is old hat. Even Spencer Steer is going to have quadruple eligibility on Opening Day. I want to see Mookie pitch in relief. I want to have to learn what the ordinal descriptor (is that even what I’m describing here?) is for seven- or nine-position eligibility.
Actually, I’m going to look that up right now. And I’m going to demand they give him enough DH starts that we skip them entirely and make Mookie Betts the first decuple-eligibility player in fantasy baseball history.
Miami Marlins – Bring Back The Dinger Machine
Yes, this was Miami’s item last year and it will remain here on the list every year until they do the right thing. Jeter’s long gone, and the FO is looking badly after the Kim Ng fiasco, it’s the perfect time for a simple but effective move to bring back some goodwill from fans near and far.
This is what they took from us, it’s time to right this wrong.
I am willing to soften my stance that it should be placed in play in the OF this time, as long as it comes back inside.
Milwaukee you have the chance to do the funniest thing possible with your managerial opening. C’mon, do it.
Minnesota Twins – Get An Exoskeleton
This year felt like the first season the Twins really put Byron Buxton on the sidelines in terms of expecting very limited playing time out of him, and also conceding that they can’t pencil him into CF on every day that he does start. And that’s a shame, because he’s incredible, a truly electric player on both sides of the ball, so here’s my humble suggestion: A kickass robot exoskeleton. But not like those lame ones they’re rolling out to help out on construction sites. I’m talking about a getup like Adam Smasher has in Cyberpunk 2077.
“Buxton makes a play against the wall!” NO! “Buxton has obliterated the wall entirely with his enormous robotic legs!” YES!
New York Yankees – Mandatory Facial Hair
I think people make too big of a deal about the Yankees’ whole grooming standard, especially since so many baseball players have proven time and time again they can’t be trusted to manage their own beardly duties (listen, I’m saying that as somebody who is week overdue for a haircut and has a beard which is wildly out of hand right now.) I think they need to lean into it more, actually:
Make moustaches non-negotiable.
We’ve gotten some glimpses of team-wide mustache growing, but I need to see who on the 26-man can’t get past the awkward dirtstache phase of things. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s Clarke Schmidt. I also want to see who’s been holding back on us! We already got to see the glorious Carlos Rodón/Austin Wells battery, and I bet Michael King can grow a pretty good ’stache if pressed.
New York Mets – Trade For Big Names
Imagine it, the young upstart prospect-heavy Mets unexpectedly get off to a good start in 2024 and need some reinforcements in the rotation, so they swing some blockbuster trades for a couple of blue-chip names like uhhhhh…Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer?! Does this hypothetical make any sense at all? No, none whatsoever. Does it still make me giggle a little to imagine the Mets just like, playing take backsies on their big rebuild moves from 2023?
Yes, I would say it does.
Oakland Athletics – Sell The Team
Honestly, I’m just kind of depressed about the A’s at this point. Any jokes are low-hanging fruit and as I’ve said repeatedly it is downright shameful what the team’s ownership has done to the franchise, with the tacit approval of the Commissioner’s Office and MLB as a whole. But if John Fisher, a hollowed-out human-shaped pit of greed, was actually capable of feeling shame he would have already sold the team, so I’m left to just flail at him from here.
Philadelphia Phillies – MORE HIMBOS
Ok, so this is a double-whammy. I’m pretty much re-using my franchise directive from last year, which is probably cheating. But also, it definitely happened, so…it kind of disqualified itself as a thing the team won’t do?
But like, we were all making fun of the all-bat team that was the 2022 Phillies, and they pretty much ran it back in 2023, and in 2024 it’s officially the Year of Bryce Harper, First Baseman. Thankfully, it’s not that hard of a position to play (Tell ‘im, Wash) and his bat will more than play. It’s gotta feel like a real “He can’t keep getting away with this!” meme moment for the NL East, and NL as a whole mostly, but I think the Phillies can push it even further by signing Teoscar Hernández (I think? Maybe he’s a good fielder? Am I confusing Himbo with “All Power, No Hit”?) and making more people play out of position. I bet J.T. Realmuto could…stand in CF. Critical himbo mass is the only thing standing between Philly and a World Series ring, I can feel it.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Commit To The Bit
Everybody remembers “The Crimson Permanent Assurance,” right? The short film from the beginning of Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”?
Well if you don’t, or have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a roughly 20-minute story about an office full of older workers who get bought out by this efficiency-obsessed younger American company (this was written in 1983 by the way), and fight back by becoming pirates and sailing their building off to plunder the corporate HQ. You should go watch it, and the rest of the movie, but definitely the bit I just summed up.
Anyway, even though the Pirates as a team is kind of the opposite of the story here in age, they should still turn PNC Park into a pirate ship and go raid the Ogden Newspapers Inc. HQ, and also start plundering underappreciated players from other teams’ rosters. Pitching machines repurposed as cannons, bats for swords (or I guess in the Bucs’ case they can use their HR celebration sword), the whole thing.
I want to think that Andrew McCutchen would be into it.
San Diego Padres – Get Those Fans Who Did The “Rap” Video To Make Things Right
Reporter says “this has social media written all over it.”
Here’s the full video from Good Morning San Diego! ? pic.twitter.com/gkN3TwGUE0
— Crossing Broad (@CrossingBroad) October 18, 2022
Check the date on that Tweet. It’s been all downhill from there, and they must be held accountable for this crime, not just against the padres, but against all of us who have had to hear and see this video in the ensuing time. They didn’t know it at the time, but they were trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees and leading a goat into Wrigley. These men were throwing the Colonel Sanders statue into the Dōtonbori River, unwittingly. But we have the context and historical knowledge on our side to know that we can undo this curse! It’s not too late! Don’t make San Diego wait decades for The Curse Of The Awful Local TV Rap to end!
San Francisco Giants – Run Wild
Last season, the Giants attempted stolen bases at the absolute lowest rate in the league by a pretty huge margin. Under Gabe Kapler, they actually saw their SB rate decline from 2022 to 2023, the only team to do so. But he’s no longer managing the team! It’s Bob Melvin’s turn, a dude whose Padres ran a lot. Does a lot of this have to do with the roster each manager had to work with? Of course, but that’s not fun. Wilmer Flores with 0 SB? Heck no, not on my watch! Patrick Bailey has 30-speed? More like 30 SBs! The bases are bigger, the time is now! Run wild, Giants!
Seattle Mariners – Trident Bats
I’ve already gone on the record about how I think Seattle’s trident is the coolest HR celebration item in the entire league (especially when Julio Rodríguez is wielding it):
— Julio Rodriguez??? (@JRODshow44) April 21, 2023
But maybe that fearsome instrument would be better served to hit said dingers? I don’t know, I assume it’s actually a huge functional detriment to attach extraneous parts to a bat but man, it would look pretty cool, wouldn’t it?
St. Louis Cardinals – Appeal To A Higher Power
2023 didn’t go the way St. Louis wanted, and according to a Wikipedia page I scanned recently, Cardinals are second only to the Pope in the Catholic Church hierarchy, so maybe they should go speak to Pope Francis to help decide on an off-season direction. They have a lot of maybe-kinda-OK outfielders at the moment, and I’m sure they can move some of them to help shore up the rotation and bullpen after their mini-sale this past summer.
And the Pope will listen since they’re Cardinals, right? They’re definitely not named after the bird or anything touches earpiece oh no-.
Tampa Bay Rays – Long Live The Trop!
It’s almost become a running joke at this point that everybody hates The Trop, and that the Rays will definitely for sure have a workable plan to move out of it any season now, one that doesn’t involve becoming some kind of weird two-homed transnational border-hopping circus. So here’s my idea: New stadium, but same stadium! Fill it with helium, it’ll probably float already. At the least, just pick the thing up and move it down the road a bit. Or demolish it, then build a perfect replica on the Ybor City site that constantly comes up. It would be the ultimate troll job.
Texas Rangers – Start Collecting More Texas Names
This is in the same vein as my plea for the franchise from last year, but maybe less dangerous than wearing spurs on the field. It’s time to pick up more guys who should be Texas Rangers. Like Christian Walker. The joke literally writes itself and he’s practically across town. Plus you guys may actually need a first baseman with real power!
I would also put Justin Steele on the list of high-priority targets even if he wasn’t practically an ace at this point because that name screams “Reoccurring secondary character in a USA show about Texas Rangers.” They already did a good job in the draft with Wyatt Langford, but they need to keep that ball rolling!
Toronto Blue Jays – Walls Closer And Taller
Last winter the Blue Jays made some changes to their OF dimensions, bringing the walls in a bit, but raising them at the same time to try and keep the park factors more or less steady. And it more or less worked, StatCast has their overall park factor going from 101 to 100 on their rolling ratings.
But that means they should do it again. Closer! Taller! SOMEHOW EVEN MORE PERFECTLY BALANCED AT 100. Every year, the inexorable creep of the Rogers walls will not be stymied, a true home field psychological warfare advantage.
Washington Nationals – Do The Right Thing By Strasburg
Dang, folks. I’m sorry, I think I’ve been a little too serious this year and I’m not exactly going out on a fun note here, am I? But man, the whole thing with ESPN reporting that Stephen Strasburg was going to retire, the Nats seeming to kind of confirm it, then canceling it all at the last minute over a reported monetary dispute was not a great look. It seems likely that Strasburg never pitches again given a major rehab setback this summer caused by “severe nerve damage” and it seems like we’ve kind of forgotten how he was appointment viewing for the better part of a decade in the run-up to his 2019 World Series MVP win. Here’s to hoping that 2024 sees him sent off with a proper ceremony, and not a long, acrimonious fight waged in vague and partially sourced quotes in the press.
Oh, and just like last year: every team that still doesn’t already have a roof should be mandated to build a retractable rain-protection thing like Seattle has.
Photo by Jon Eckert | Unsplash. Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)