In a surprising turn of events, the Giants have opted to call up 2008 first-round pick Buster Posey to help out with Bengie Molina still struggling due to a strained right quad.
The Giants had indicated that Posey would finish the season in the minors and then get a break before taking part in the Arizona Fall League. The 22-year-old Florida State product hit .326/.428/.540 with 13 homers in 291 at-bats for Single-A San Jose and .321/.391/.511 with five homers in 131 at-bats for Triple-A Fresno this season. The Giants purposely kept him off their Double-A Connecticut affiliate, which plays in a terrible environment for hitters. His numbers have definitely been aided by playing in strong hitters ballparks in leagues that enhance offense, but his first full pro season has gone as well as anyone could have hoped.
Posey still doesn’t figure to have a particularly big role with the Giants this month. Molina’s injury has become a bigger issue than anticipated, but he’s expected back as the regular catcher before long. Posey will serve as protection there and as a pinch-hitter. His ability to make contact could make him very useful in that role, and he shouldn’t be dismissed as a postseason roster possibility just yet.
The late callup also serves as an audition for Posey. Molina is a free agent this winter, and while the Giants would likely be happy to bring him back for 2010, they shouldn’t match the multiyear commitments he could receive from other teams. If Posey shows enough in his limited time behind the plate, the Giants could be more open about turning the job over to him on Opening Day. That he’ll already have 33 days of service time may work in his favor. Teams these days find it pretty reasonable to keep a prospect in the minors for two months to guarantee they won’t have super-two eligibility. However, the Giants now would have to wait until July to turn to Posey. It might make more sense to simply bite the bullet and go with him the whole year.
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.
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: