I just went over to Charlie Manuel’s press availability because — let there be no mistake about this — Charlie Manuel is awesome. If I could take a road trip with any guy in baseball it would be him. Well, maybe Ozzie Guillen if I wasn’t all hung up on coming back alive, but Cholly would be way up there.
Important for our purposes is that one of the first questions asked of Manuel was what he thought of Jeff Francoeur, in whom the Phillies are apparently interested. The answer: “I’ve always liked Francoeur.” He then made a comparison between Frenchie and Jayson Werth when he first joined the Phillies, referring to how each of them hadn’t yet lived up to their potential. he talked about how Francoeur “hadn’t had success for a couple of years,” and that he was sure he was due to come back. It was unclear where Francoeur was supposed to come back to, because objectively speaking he’s always been gone, but everyone loves Charlie Manuel and no one pressed the issue.
When asked if he thought he could help Francoeur — the big talking point among Philly fans this week being whether Manuel could “fix” him — Manuel said that he saw “mechanical flaws” in Francoeur’s game. I just checked my Cholly-to-English dictionary and it seems that “mechanical flaws” translates roughly to “a complete and utter inability to play the game and an utter hostility to instruction or suggestion designed to make oneself better.” But like I said: roughly.
Manuel then went on to talk about how Jimmy Rollins needs to be Jimmy Rollins or some such thing, but really, my work was done by then.
Sign him, Ruben. You know you want to.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.