John Smoltz’s final minor-league rehab start was rained out last night,
so instead he’ll take the mound at Triple-A today and also push back
his Red Sox debut slightly. Here’s what manager Terry Francona had to
say about his impending arrival:
After he pitches, we’ll sit down with Smoltzy and just make sure
we’re all on the same page. When I say on the same page, he’s been
tremendous. We are on the same page. But, again, when you activate
somebody, there has to be another move. He understands that. Our next
move is to wait for him to get done pitching, sit down with him, see
how he comes through his start, and then we’ll go from there.
In other words, the Red Sox’s rotation is already filled with five
veteran starters and one of them–or perhaps more accurately Brad
Penny–will likely be given the boot for Smoltz. Of course, Penny shut
out the Yankees for six innings last night and afterward replied “I don’t want to do that” when asked about possibly moving to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for Smoltz.
On the other hand Smoltz indicated last week
that he’d be willing to fill whichever role the Red Sox ask of him, so
convincing him to work his way into the rotation gradually by perhaps
skipping starts or working as a reliever could be an option if the team
wants to delay a decision on Penny (and see first hand what type of
stuff Smoltz has these days).
Another option is, of course, trading Penny. He certainly hasn’t
been great so far, but Penny has a 4.10 ERA and 38/9 K/BB ratio in 48.1
innings since a poor April and there are obviously plenty of teams that
could use him in their rotation. If the various rumors are true the Red
Sox have definitely been shopping Penny around, but the situation is
complicated somewhat by the fact that he can veto any trade through
Unless they can find good value in a trade for Penny the Red Sox may
be best off keeping both pitchers around for a while, provided that
Smoltz was truthful about his role flexibility. Assuming that Smoltz
will jump right into the mix and remain healthy for the rest of the
season is far from safe and there’s no reason to give up an asset like
Penny for a rotation switch that may not even prove to be a significant
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.