Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants, Game 4

The Giants have a lot of decisions ahead

6 Comments

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports that the Giants are going to take all of the time available to them — all the way to the midnight deadline tomorrow night — to decide what to do with Edgar Renteria’s option.  It’s a $10 million option with a $500,000 buyout.  I was of the impression that Renteria had already all but decided to retire, but apparently not. Or, apparently not without first collecting half a million in free money after the Giants decline the buyout.

Which they will do, right? Because World Series heroics aside, they don’t honestly think that Renteria is an everyday shortstop anymore, do they? Let alone one worth $10 million?  If they do, maybe I don’t have to trash my “Brian Sabean doesn’t know what he’s doing” template after all.  It’s Ctrl-X-7 on my keyboard if you’re curious, and it’s worn the hell out.

In other Giants news, they’d love to bring Juan Uribe back, but they figure he’s going to get multi-year deals elsewhere and may not compete. They’re also thinking hard about what to do about Pat Burrell. They like him, Baggarly reports, but they saw his limitations — and likely future — in brilliant technicolor during the World Series. If a reasonable deal could be done great, but he’s past the point of giving big money to. Baggarly is also told by anonymous Giants sources that they’d “entertain the idea” of going after Carl Crawford for left field, but I don’t think that’s exactly shocking. I entertain all kinds of unlikely scenarios during the day, but they rarely come to fruition. And, unlike the Giants, I don’t even have Barry Zito’s salary obligations preventing me from doing what I really want to do.

Whatever happens, this is going to be an interesting winter for the World Champs.  Will they realize that, in a lot of ways, they were a lightning-in-a-bottle team and try to continue to build on that great core of pitching and that stud catcher?  Or will they believe that Burrell, Renteria and guys like that know how to win and go back to their old vet-heavy days?

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
11 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
24 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: