Should Twins offer Wilson Ramos for Cliff Lee?

3 Comments

If the Twins want a second ace left-hander for the postseason, that’s probably what it will take. Cliff Lee went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA for the Phillies last October. The team won all five of his postseason starts, with Lee pitching 40 1/3 of a possible 45 innings in those games. His addition to a rotation featuring Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker and one from a group of Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey would transform the Twins from likely ALDS victim into a legitimate threat to win the World Series.
And the Twins could get him for a player who has no obvious role in the team’s future plans.
Now, Wilson Ramos does appear to be a special talent. And the Twins could find a way to incorporate him in 2011 and beyond if they wanted to. But it’s doubtful he’d be anywhere near as valuable elsewhere on the field as he is behind the plate. For what it’s worth, while he was impressive in his brief stint replacing Joe Mauer earlier this year, he’s hitting just .229/.262/.346 with a 33/7 K/BB ratio in 179 at-bats for Triple-A Rochester. He seems to have turned things around recently — he’s batting .339 in June — but he’s not in the same league with, say, Carlos Santana as an offensive prospect.
The 22-year-old Ramos shines more brightly on defense. He should contend for Gold Gloves someday, and with his ability to hit for average, it’d be no surprise to see him serving as Mauer’s backup on All-Star teams a few years down the line.
Still, Ramos’ greatest value to the Twins is likely as a trade chip. But is it worth parting with his next 6 1/2 seasons in return for a half-season of Lee?
I think it is. The Twins would have very little chance of keeping Lee as a free agent, but they’d be in line for a first-round pick and a supplemental first-rounder after he departs. That’s a big key here. It’s why the Mariners won’t part with Lee cheaply even if they end July with no chance of headed to the postseason.
Barring a big turnaround over the next several weeks, Seattle, though, should be willing to let him go for Ramos and a lesser pitching prospect. Adam Moore is a solid young catcher, but he might be more of a long-term backup than a regular. The Mariners lack young talent on offense. Ramos isn’t the long-term cleanup man they need, but as sort of a right-handed-hitting version of A.J. Pierzynski, he’d soon be an upgrade in the sixth or seventh spot in the lineup.
The Mariners might shoot for more and try to come up with someone who could put up big numbers immediately. Or perhaps they’ll aim for the Yankees’ Jesus Montero, who could well be a cleanup hitter but who figures to accomplish it as a first baseman, rather than as a catcher. I think Ramos is likely as good as they’re going to do. He can contribute right away, and he’ll be useful even if he doesn’t hit during his first couple of seasons.

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)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
8 Comments

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)
Elsa/Getty Images
21 Comments

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: