Source: Mets won't try to void K-Rod's deal, will attempt to avoid payment for 2010

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I just heard that the Mets have decided that they (a) will not attempt to void Francisco Rodriguez’s deal as a result of his little fracas with his girlfriend’s father, but they will (b) attempt to avoid paying him the balance of his 2010 salary as a result of him suffering a non-baseball-related injury. The mechanism for doing this is to place K-Rod on the disqualified list, which they have done as of this evening.

UPDATE: My source tells me the Mets may also try to render the deal non-guaranteed as well. If successful, this step, while short of voiding the contract, would allow the Mets to simply cut K-Rod if he doesn’t make the team next year.  However (a) if he did make the team out of camp the deal would become guaranteed once again; and (b) if they cut him despite him being healthy and able, would likely lead to a whole other grievance by the union.

The union may even try to fight K-Rod’s move to the disqualified list, however. Why? Because according to my source, the Mets considered the discipline of all of this to be sorted as of Thursday with the two-game suspension. The injury changed things, however.  What this means philosophically, though, is that the team is, in effect, trying to punish the injury with a substantially larger sanction (50+ games worth of pay) than the arguably criminal transgression (2 games).  On the one hand this may be semantics. It may matter a lot to an arbitrator, however.

I discussed the ethics of all of this this morning and found it, well, weird. The Mets may have been better off putting him on the restricted list and leveling a longer overall suspension upon reflection once all of the details were in. They didn’t, though, they were content to let his punishment be two games only, and now they could be stuck with that if K-Rod fights this thing.

From a legal perspective, given how difficult it is to discipline a player in the first place, let alone discipline a player when an injury is involved, the Mets’ plant to dock him of his 2010 pay may be a tall order.  If you cast all of that aside, however, it seems like a rather equitable result given that (a) K-Rod did screw the Mets out of the remainder of this season’s services; but (b) will likely be ready to go in 2011.  Voiding the deal beyond this year seemed like an overreach for the Mets.

As for how it will go on the ground, well, we shall see.

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
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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)
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: