Now that Peter Gammons is officially back covering the Red Sox as a part of his NESN gig, he probably feels a lot more comfortable simply working the Boston sources he’s cultivated for thirty some-odd years, and we get the benefit of it. He was on WEEI the other day and offered the following Sox tidbits:
- Forget the renewed interest in Jason Bay stuff. Not happening. They made their best offer last summer, it was no better (and maybe worse) than what the Mets have out there now, and it’s not getting any better. My thought: if Bay does go back to the Sox anyway, how much of an eff-you is that to the Mets? Then again, given how long he’s left them hanging on their current offer, the eff-you is already implied;
- No matter how much people want it to happen, the Sox and the Padres haven’t even talked about potential players that would be involved in an Adrain Gonzalez deal. As I and many others have noted in the past, Jed Hoyer is the one GM in baseball who can’t be hoodwinked by Theo when it comes to Red Sox prospects, so rather than the Padres and Sox being ideal trading partners, they’re actually horribly matched;
- Better bet for a big bat in Boston: an early-season Detroit Tigers swoon followed by a trade for Miguel Cabrera. Yes, he’s more expensive than Gonzalez, but because of that he could no doubt be more easily had;
- Jacoby Ellsbury is going to play a lot of left field. Reason: it will help save his legs, and since Mike Cameron is in the fold, it won’t mean much of a defensive hit. Ulterior motive I’m totally making up but which seems plausible: Ellsbury as a left fielder would have lower arbitration comparables than Ellsbury as a centerfielder. Though I’ll admit, I don’t know that the Sox really think that way;
- Daisuke Matsuzaka is in “unbelievable shape.” I don’t suppose that fitness will translate into him working any faster, will it? I’d like to be able to watch one of his starts without falling asleep one of these years.
- Some wishy-washy talk about how Mike Lowell could be an important contributor and presence and all of that. I still think they pay for him to to go someplace else.
Lots of other Red Sox dish at the link. Plenty to chew on with your holiday leftovers.
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: