UPDATE: Andy Martino asked around and he says that Collins has not named Hernandez his second baseman. He’s merely in the mix, as they say. We could parse this I suppose — Martino is reporting peoples’ “sense” of the matter while Mike Puma says he got it from someone who has “direct knowledge” of the matter, but at some point the news is so small that if you parse the crap out of it you don’t have anything left to parse. It’s a job battle in which the established favorite is Luis Castillo. That is, by definition, small potatoes.
8:43 AM: Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that Terry Collins has settled on a starting second baseman for the Mets. And it’s not Luis Castillo. Or Daniel Murphy. Or even Brad Emaus. No, it’s Luis Hernandez:
Disenchanted with what he has seen from Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus and Justin Turner this spring, manager Terry Collins is preparing to name Luis Hernandez the starter at second base, a source with direct knowledge of Collins’ plans told The Post yesterday. The move will be contingent upon Collins convincing the front office to find roster space for Hernandez.
Hernandez has only had 12 plate appearances this spring, so it seems that Collins has made his choice by default rather than on the merits of Hernandez himself.
Not that Hernandez has much of a track record to begin with. He’ll be 27 this year and has spent parts of four seasons in the bigs, but has never had more than 91 plate appearances. His highest OBP was an even .300 in 2007 with the Orioles. He has 3,324 plate appearances in the minors, however, where his career OBP is … .302. And his career high in home runs was six, which he did back in 2004 while bopping around the Braves system. One hopes that with such a demonstrated inability to hit that he’s a whiz with the glove, but if he was all that you’d think he’d be a shortstop or something.
Baffling move if true.
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: