Frank Robinson took over as Vice President of Baseball Operations last week. The move was views by many — me included — as a way for Bud Selig to put someone tough in charge of the umps and to do a better job carrying out baseball’s on-the-field priorities like speeding up the pace of the game and stuff. Ken Rosenthal reminds us, however, that this is nothing new:
So I’m talking to Frank Robinson on the phone, talking to him about his
new position in baseball, talking to him about his plans to speed up
the game. And suddenly, it hits me:Haven’t I had this conversation before?
In fact, I have — just after the 2000 World Series, during Robinson’s
first tenure as a vice president of baseball operations. Yes, almost 10 years ago.
Rosenthal quotes Selig from back in 2000 talking about how pace-of-game issues were “a very high-priority thing.” Those were to be Frank Robinson’s responsibility, but they were obviously were never addressed, so what makes anyone think they’ll be addressed now?
Rosenthal also throws cold water on the notion that Robinson is going to come in, snap his fingers and get the umps to fall in line. To the contrary, Rosenthal’s sources say that Robinson will be tasked with “improving communication with the umps.” Seems to me that the only communication that needs to happen right now is for the umps to be told, in no uncertain terms, that no one comes to the park to see them so quit acting all arrogant and getting in players’ faces, but I suppose we’ll leave that to Robinson.
Robinson does say he has “a special message” he wants to convey to the umpires. I hope that’s a euphemism for a size 10 EE in their collective posteriors, but it doesn’t sound like it will be.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.