The former Astros’ third baseman has a blog and some pretty interesting insights about Barry Zito plunking Prince Fielder — Ensberg lists his own rules for hitting a guy — as well as the strike zone. Here’s Ensberg after noting that Bud Selig is against automating the calling of balls and strikes because he likes “the human element”:
Yeah whatever dude. Getting booed sucks. It ripped my heart in
half to hear the fans in Houston boo me. As a result I no longer
concentrated on the game and instead concentrated on not getting
booed. That was too much heat for me and I buckled. The same thing
will happen to the umpires.
Umpires have a really difficult job. You may think it is easy to
call a ball or a strike, but you don’t see what Major League pitchers
can do with the ball. Major League catchers can frame a ball that
makes an umpire look like they missed it. You don’t probably consider
that the camera is “off-set”. But in the end, it is the heat of the
fans, managers, and players that causes that strike zone to expand.
Prediction: Technology will cause the strike zone to shrink at first and we may see
an increase in offensive production. After a year of that, the strike
zone will expand to its intended definition and pitchers will finally
get to throw a high strike.
I think what he means by the zone shrinking if things get automated is that pitchers will not get the corner calls they’re used to, while simultaneously being afraid to throw what is a textbook — and presumably computer-judged high strike — at first, but that they’ll soon adjust and start working up the ladder the way your old man’s favorite pitchers used to do in the 60s and 70s. Interesting thought, and something I’d like to see.
More generally, I like to see ballplayers and former ballplayers like Ensberg speaking directly to the public like this. As I’ll note later this morning, there is something deeply artificial and unilluminating about the reporter-ballplayer dynamic, what with all the cliches and mistrust and everything. I don’t figure we’ll see a lot of ballplayers saying “whatever, dude” to Bud Selig, but the more of these guys who let loose in the blogosphere and on Twitter, the more we’ll learn so much more about this here game we love.
Jose Bautista‘s bat flip from the 2015 playoffs has crossed sporting lines. Now, in addition to it angering old school killjoys and “play the game the right way” lame-os, you can use the bat flip to taunt your opponents in video game hockey.
That’s because the new “NHL ’17” game allows you to pick your own goal celebration. And one of them is the Bautista bat flip. It was discovered by a guy beta testing the game:
Why you’d pick any of the other celebrations is beyond me, but I suppose you can do what you’d like.
8:47 AM: The Padres may be giving up two pitchers, but they’re getting a nice return. Early reports have first baseman Josh Naylor, the Marlins’ top position playing prospect, heading to San Diego. Naylor, the Marlins’ first round pick in 2015, is currently in A-ball, where he’s hitting .269/.317/.430 with nine homers and 54 RBI in 89 games. He has no real defensive value but he’s only 19 and is expected to hit wherever he goes. Naylor, from Canada, recently played in the Futures Game, where he had two hits and drove in a run for the World team.
8:31 AM: Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins are also getting pitcher Colin Rea from Padres. Rea has started 18 games this year for San Diego, posting a 4.98 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 76/44 in 99 and a third innings. He’s definitely more innings eater than effective starter, but the Marlins are clearly looking to throw as many pitchers at the problem as they can get. Plus: Rea is under team control through 2021 and won’t be arbitration eligible until 2019, so he’ll be with Miami for a long time if they want him.
8:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal just reported that this trade is “bigger than just Cashner,” and that the Marlins may be getting more from the Padres. So stay tuned.
8:26 AM: Buster Olney reports that the San Diego Padres have traded pitcher Andrew Cashner to the Miami Marlins. There’s no word yet on the return.
This is a rental of a guy with a live arm but who has experienced some mighty struggles this season. Cashner is 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA and a 67/30 K/BB ratio in 79 1/3 innings. He missed over three weeks between June 11 and July 2 due to a strained neck. A righty, Cashner is earning $9.625 million this season and will be eligible for free agency after the season.
Miami has been in desperate need to upgrade the back of its rotation. If Cashner can regain the form he showed before injuries slowed him down in the past two seasons, he will be an upgrade. That’s not necessarily a pipe dream — he’s pitched pretty well of late — and he certainly has some incentive to show what he can do down the stretch to potential suitors this coming offseason.
The Marlins currently sit five games back of the Nationals in the NL East and are tied with the Cardinals for the second wild card slot.