Twins ace Francisco Liriano is under team control though 2012 and he’s coming off a season that looks as though he’s back on track to being the ace he looked like he’d be before Tommy John surgery. Normally that would make a guy a candidate for a long-term extension. The Twins, however, may be thinking differently about it. Here’s Joe Christensen:
With six pitchers vying for five spots in the Twins starting rotation, one possible solution is trading Francisco Liriano. Speaking to team officials recently, I’ve been surprised how open they are to this possibility, but the logic makes sense … One thing is clear: The Twins don’t plan to sign him long term.
Christensen hears that long-term talks between the Twins and Liriano went nowhere and cites his injury history — and his continued reliance on his arm-taxing slider — as things that make the Twins wary of making a long commitment to the guy. There’s a lot in the article about Liriano allegedly “came up short in big situations” last year. It’s mentioned that “in his final 20 starts, including the postseason, he didn’t finish the eighth inning once.”
While Liriano is no CC Sabathia or Felix Hernandez when it comes to being a workhorse, that’s not a comparison a lot of pitchers will win. Liriano had the same number of total eight-inning starts as Jered Weaver, Brett Myers, Mat Latos and John Lackey last year, so it’s not like he’s awful or anything. The dude is a fantastic pitcher. As such, it’s kind of puzzling for me to see so much negativity thrown on him here. For Twins fans’ sake I hope that’s all Christensen’s own analysis and not the opinion of the front office. Because if the front office thinks Liriano is as expendable as the article makes him seem, they’re not going to get true value for the guy if and when they trade him.
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: