Facing uncertain future, Dye open to move to first base

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dye fielding.jpgWe still have so much to learn about defense, but one thing just about everybody can agree on now is that free agent Jermaine Dye isn’t any good in right field at this stage of his career.
Given the nature of the concepts used to measure defense and the smaller sample sizes being dealt with, stats rarely show a great deal of consistency from year to year. Dye is one extremely notable exception:
UZR
2006: -22.5
2007: -21.6
2008: -19.4
2009: -20.0
According to UZR, Dye has cost his team almost exactly 20 runs per year for four seasons running. There’s little doubt that he started his career as a fine defensive outfielder, but he had already declined considerably even before suffering a broken leg in the 2001 postseason. UZR says he was still acceptable until 2005, but that he’s been such a liability since that he was actually a sub-replacement player in 2007 and 2009.
The soon-to-be 36-year-old Dye can likely still contribute with the bat. While he finished last season in a brutal slump that dropped his OPS to 793, he came in at .302/.375/.567 with 20 homers in the first half. He hit .292/.344/.541 with 34 homers in 2008.
He’s also probably capable of making the switch to first base. He lacks an outfielder’s range, but he still moves around OK. Standing 6-foot-5, he’d certainly present a nice target for infielders.
That Dye is clearly open to the idea now makes him a far more attractive free agent target than he was a week ago. It should also help his case that every other notable free agent first baseman hits left-handed. It’d make him a better fit with the Braves or Orioles, two teams relying a great deal on left-handed power. The Mets, Giants and Mariners are others that could consider him at first base.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.