Instant replay probably won't happen instantly


Joyce blown call small.jpgA day after the Jim Joyce call, one thing almost everyone agrees on — myself included — is that baseball needs to expand instant replay beyond the current boundary calls rule. The problem is that it’s not at all clear how to do it.

An issue is whether or not implementing replay is a matter that has to be negotiated with the players’ union in the context of collective bargaining. It’s actually kind of vague. Article XVIII of the CBA says that players must sign off on changes that significantly change the “terms of employment.”  Is replay one of those changes?  I’m not sure that it is. Maybe for umpires it is, but my sense is that it’s not for players.

The problem, though, is that the last time replay was brought up — when it was implemented for home run calls in the 2008 season — the union was consulted and did sign off.  Not as a part of collective bargaining, but in at least something approaching a formal process.  Add that to the fact that Selig has acted as though he’s not totally in charge of replay — he’s one of the most notorious buck-passers in baseball and has often spoken about getting everyone on board — and you can see why someone, maybe even Bud himself, would say that this is something that has to go slowly and involve the union.

I think it’s highly unlikely that the union would oppose replay — they don’t want to see their members lose perfect games either, you know — but I have a hard time seeing them pass up the opportunity to be involved, if for no other reason than to not appear to cede power to Selig.  I think they’ll be consulted and will operate as though they are a part of the process. As they probably should.

But if that happens, a key thing to watch is whether Bud and the MLBPA treat it informally and just let replay happen, or if they treat it like other big issues such as drug testing (i.e. a
change”) and actually do some quick supplemental bargaining on it.  If they do, Michael Weiner will have to, by the MLBPA’s own rules, take it to the Executive Committee for approval, and usually that takes
Moreover, per the CBA, any rules changes like this wouldn’t come into play until next season.

But like I said, it may not come to that.  Bud — assuming he doesn’t completely blow this one and does nothing — will probably consult
with the MLBPA and negotiate at least in some way, shape of form. Whether that is formally, in a manner that would lead to a delayed implementation, or informally, in a way that would allow replay to happen quickly, depends on how much Bud wants to share credit and/or the blame for how the whole process works out.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.