I tend to rip writers more than I praise them. Not a great trait, I know, but I gotta be me. In this case, though, I think it’s worth pointing out that Ken Rosenthal nails the Rangers-Cliff Lee thing in my view:
If I were the Rangers, I would almost want to lose Cliff Lee. Don’t get me wrong, Lee would be a tremendous asset. But for five years, $135 million or whatever the final price will be . . . well, let the Yankees take that gamble. Lee will turn 33 next Aug. 30 — in the first year of his new deal . . . The Rangers need not obsess over Lee. They need not worry about the Angels, A’s or any other American League team. They need only remember how they got in this position in the first place. By making sound baseball decisions.
Lee would be nice. He’s won a Cy Young and has starred in the postseason. But I also think it’s not unreasonable to think that he has peaked. That doesn’t mean he won’t be excellent for a while longer. It’s doubtful, however, that he will be better, and $125 million+ pretty much requires that he maintain or improve on his current production for several years running.
It could happen. The odds don’t favor it, though, and a team like the Rangers (i.e. any team other than maybe the top couple of cash cows in the league) would be in big trouble if that gamble doesn’t pay off.
While the Yankees are almost certain to outbid Lee anyway, mooting this, if I were the Rangers I wouldn’t even take the chance. I’d let Lee go, wish him the best, and then allow Neftali Feliz to go back to starting where, dollar-per-dollar anyway, he’s almost certain to be a more valuable starter than Lee over the next five or six years.
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.
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: