Instant replay probably won't happen instantly

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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
“significant
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
some
time.
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.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.

Tony Clark is not happy so many players remain unsigned

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”

Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.

These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.