How is the league going to crack down on “mystery team” reports?

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In addition to shortening the period in which a free agent’s current team gets exclusive negotiation rights, the September agreement between the union and the league sought to impose “restrictions on the abilities of the Clubs, players and agents to conduct their free agent negotiations through use of the media.”

What that means is anyone’s guess. I assumed it was aspirational more than anything else because, really, how is the league going to stop an agent or an assistant GM or whatever from texting a reporter about this, that or the other? If the policy does anything it will only make matters worse. Instead of having a bunch of anonymous stories coming from “a team source” or “a league source” you’ll simply have a lot more 100% unsourced stories or, at the most, stories that cite “sources.”

Which, while a problem when the story is about sensitive or important topics, isn’t something I care all that much about when it comes to silly things like free agent rumors. Those are ephemeral, relatively unimportant and more fun than anything else. And, ultimately, if a reporter or a blogger constantly whiffs on such rumors, people will ignore them anyway. It’s kind of self-policing in that regard. The league cares, though, and I don’t know that they’ll be happy with what results of their new policy.

But no matter how little the policy helps, it’s already a worthy one, because it gave Buster Olney a chance to use it as a means of slamming my buddy Jon Heyman.  From Buster’s column this morning:

And the mechanism by which the Players Association and MLB would investigate media leaks is unknown; maybe these are rules put in place that both sides want the participants to enforce on their own, like an honor code. Maybe the greatest indication that we would see that the rules are actually working would be if we never see another “mystery team” tied to a Scott Boras client.

Rowr.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.