Frank Robinson in charge of umps, game-pace is not gonna change anything

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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.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.