Yesterday’s news about Tony La Russa fixing baseball was apparently part of something far more grand:
Managers Tony La Russa Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia have been selected for a
committee that could recommend expanded instant replay and playoff
format changes. The group was selected by commissioner Bud Selig and also will examine scheduling, umpiring and pace of game. No players or umpires are included.
Everyone knows that one famous quote about how to really screw up it takes a committee, but I think that accusing committees of mere incompetence is to go too easy on them. Committees are typically put together for one simple reason, and that’s to make people think you’re doing something when you’d rather do absolutely nothing all. Or, put more succinctly, “A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.”
As for the substance, it’s probably worth noting that I was present for La Russa’s, Leyland’s and Scioscia’s press availabilities at the Winter Meetings last week, and each of them was asked about replay during their sessions. They each said something about the human element being important and how they were worried about the pace of the game and all of that. Indeed, their answers were really, really similar.
In hindsight, one wonders if they had already been selected for the committee beforehand and had been coached to adhere to those (admittedly common) talking points with the idea of that being the ultimate conclusion of the committee: “Hey, we’d love replay, by we don’t think it’s workable beyond the home run calls.” As for the other issues: I don’t know why it takes a committee to deal with scheduling and pace-of-game issues. There are tweaks to these things every offseason, and no one needs a conclave for that.
But then again, Bud Selig is a big fan of using self-selected committees and task forces to (a) make findings that he’ll later tout as gospel as he tries to achieve his own ends; and (b) give him political cover on tough issues. He did it with economics. He did it with steroids. He’s doing it with Oakland. Now he’s doing it with rules, scheduling and pace-of-game issues. I’m guessing it’s because he wants to either do something truly radical or absolutely nothing at all.
In any event, they should put a conference room table on Selig’s Hall of Fame plaque.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
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.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
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.