The Diamondbacks think about locking up Upton, Reynolds

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Justin Upton 2.jpgThe Diamondbacks are thinking long term:

Their arbitration-eligible players all taken care of thanks to the
Valentine’s Day signing of right-hander Edwin Jackson, the D-backs
front office will turn its attention to signing players with less than
three years of big league service. That typically involves one-year deals, but in the case of
third baseman Mark Reynolds and right fielder Justin Upton, it appears
the D-backs have at least begun to explore multiyear pacts.

We’ve heard this before regarding Reynolds. My take on him was, for his own sake, he should do his best to get a long-term deal while the gettin’s good. If I’m Arizona, however, I’m wary of going overboard, for the same reason that I’d want to sign a deal if I were Reynolds: his market is not going to be scintillating in the coming years. There will be teams that steer away from him due to his age, his strikeouts or both.  If Adam Dunn has to go year-to-year through his 30s, than Reynolds will have to as well.  So sure, if you’re Arizona you explore locking him up for the sake of certainty, but don’t go crazy.

Upton is a different story of course. To quote the Rotoworld annual that just arrived at my door (and which you should totally buy) you’d be hard-pressed to find a ballplayer with more promise than Upton. He’s young and progressing in ways that Hall-of-Fame caliber players have progressed in the past. Lock him up and throw away the key, I say.

But for how much? FanGraph’s Joe Pawlikowski ran some numbers today. His verdict: a five-year $58 million deal which balances the team and player risks and allows Upton to still hit free agency at age 28 when he can make top-shelf money.  If I’m the team I probably offer that right now.

If I’m Upton I may be wary to accept it, because if I take the next predictable step forward, I may very well shatter Ryan Howard’s record come arbitration time next year, which could set the stage for an even bigger deal. Of course, saying no to $58 million guaranteed dollars is a much easier thing to do when you’re just pretending to be Justin Upton. It might take a second’s more deliberation for the real Justin Upton.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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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.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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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: