Every other sport that has flying projectiles at high speeds requires players to wear some kind of protective equipment. MLB players tend to either wear full body armor or nothing at all. It should be a requirement to wear the arm shield and leg/shin protector. This obviously doesn't help the most fragile part, the hands but it would be a start. I also believe there's been a movement to step into pitches more often to get on base. I do not like the idea of keeping batters a certain distance from the plate. Those that crowd the plate definitely have more exciting at bats and create another layer of strategy during the pitcher/batter match up.
The early start would have been perfectly fine if there was some foresight with the scheduling. What is so god damn hard about the cold weather teams opening up in either a dome or warm weather park? The answer is nothing. It can be argued with all of the delays and postponements, MLB creates more of an issue than just eliminating cold weather teams from opening in the first 2 weeks. There are at least 15 warm weather/dome stadiums that can be utilized in the warmer months. If you can just stretch it to 2nd week of April, you're usually in the clear. Cincinnati today is supposed to be in the 70s for example. Opening week it was 30 and snowing.
Some weather conspiracy for you, but in the north east it certainly feels like we've shifted in that spring/summer starts later, and the fall winter begins a little later. I don't know if the MLB has noticed this. Seems like they haven't.