UPDATE: Astros close to multi-year deal with Brett Myers

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UPDATE: Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that the Astros are close to a multi-year deal with right-hander Brett Myers.

The Astros were reported to be reluctant to trade Myers, though many — including myself — thought they were bluffing. The 29-year-old right-hander has been a real bargain for the ‘Stros this season, compiling a 3.10 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 21 starts. His contract includes an $8 million option for next season, though as I mentioned earlier, they’ll probably start from scratch here.

2:56 PM: Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle was told that the Astros will not trade Brett Myers or Wandy Rodriguez. The club listened to offers, however they didn’t hear anything they liked.

In fact, Justice hears that the Astros are looking to get Myers under contract for next season. He is making $3.1 million this season has an $8 million mutual option for next season. Myers would probably rip that one up if he can get a multi-year deal.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears the same thing, though we still have a little over an hour left before the 4 pm ET deadline, so they could probably still be overwhelmed.

9:15 AM: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Astros are listening to offers for Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez, though they are “not that motivated” to trade them.

9:02 AM: Over the past 10 days or so, we’ve heard that the Astros were reluctant to deal Brett Myers. Their hesitation didn’t make a whole lot of sense, really, because the resurgent Myers is likely to choose free agency instead of his $8 million option for 2011. Well, it sounds like the Astros have finally come to their senses or maybe they intended to deal him all along.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Astros have “become more open-minded” to trading Myers now that he is the top right-handed starter on the market. And according to a source, the Twins are one of the teams in the discussion.

Myers, 29, is 8-6 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 21 starts this season and has gone at least six innings in each and every one of them. He recently allowed just one run in a complete game win over the Cubs on Tuesday night and has a 1.67 ERA over his last four starts.

Morosi writes that the Twins have a need for starting pitching and might want to counter the White Sox, who added Edwin Jackson on Friday, thus continuing the myth that he is somehow a difference-maker. Morosi believes that it would take Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey or Nick Blackburn to get Myers. If it’s the recently-demoted Blackburn that the Astros want — he of the 6.66 ERA and the $14 million contract — Aaron would probably drive him to Houston.    

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)
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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)
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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: