Eric Wedge: dead man walking

Leave a comment

It’s not a feeding frenzy yet, but blood is definitely in the water in Cleveland:

The fate of manager Eric Wedge is in the hands of owner Larry and
team president Paul Dolan. If they say he’s gone, he’s gone . . . When
asked if he was considering a change, Larry Dolan said, “I’ll talk to
you later.” When asked if that meant a change was being considered,
Dolan said, “I just don’t want to lie to you.”

Since then Paul Dolan said that nothing was imminent, and GM Mark
Shapiro says he thinks that Wedge should keep his job. As the article
says, though, it’s probably not Shapiro’s call.

I’m not one of those guys who thinks that firing a manager is
necessarily the best solution — in fact it rarely is — but I can’t
say I see any benefit to keeping Eric Wedge around. His defenders will
cite all of the injuries the Indians have suffered, but (a) they were
playing poorly right of the gate this season; and (b) even if they
weren’t, injuries are a fact of life in baseball that just have to be
overcome. Except Cleveland never overcomes them, and at some point
someone has to be held responsible for that. Maybe that’s Mark Shapiro
for not supplying the kind of depth an otherwise talented team needs in
order to work through this stuff. There’s an order in which these
things tend to proceed, however, and that usually involves the manager
getting axed first.

Not that we’d be talking epic unfairness if Wedge were to get
canned. He has has had seven years to make something work with this
team, and with one near-magical exception, it hasn’t worked. Better
managers than Eric Wedge have been let go after compiling shorter and
less disappointing records. When you add in the observation by the great Terry Pluto
that Wedge just looks lost and beat and demoralized these days, one
can’t help but think that a change would do both him and the Indians
some good.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
15 Comments

Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
26 Comments

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: