He has presided over realignment,
revenue sharing, continued expansion, changes to the All-Star game,
instant replay, Interleague play, the Wild Card, the World Baseball
Classic, unprecedented labor peace, and of course, steroids and the
Mitchell Report, among other things. Not bad for someone who wore the
title of acting commissioner from 1992 to 1996.
The decision doesn’t come as much of
a surprise if you remember that Selig announced his plans to retire
once before, only to have his contract extended for three more years.
However the 75-year-old Selig still has other plans outside baseball
that he’d like to pursue, namely writing a book and, yes, teaching history.
Rogers speculates on some potential
replacements for the top spot, ranging from top lieutenants Bob DuPuy
and Rob Manfred to popular executives like Andy MacPhail of the
Orioles. MacPhail is the son of former American League President Lee
MacPhail and the grandson of Larry MacPhail, who served as chief
executive to the Reds, Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers. Both are in the
Hall of Fame. MacPhail is held in high regard among major league owners.
For someone in their late-20s, it’s
almost hard to remember baseball without Selig as its commissioner. For
all the grief he’s taken, and many times rightfully so, Selig has
introduced radical and sweeping changes to our game. Some went along
kicking and screaming at the time, but it’s difficult to argue that we
aren’t better off with realignment and the expanded playoffs that along came
This isn’t to say that the game is perfect. Some (including
Mike Scioscia) would like the playoffs to move at a more natural pace
and I’m sure it will happen. Revenue sharing has flaws of its own that must be addressed in the coming seasons. To his credit, I’ve found Selig to be a reasoned and
prudent steward of the game, and I expect nothing less until his
contract expires. That said, I look forward to seeing how the next commissioner can build upon Selig’s accomplishments.
Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.
After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.
The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:
Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.
However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.
There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”
Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:
And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:
UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.
After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.