Rose Fosse

Ray Fosse doesn’t think you can change the rules regarding catcher collisions

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If there is one person whose opinion of the Buster Posey injury is worth hearing it’s Ray Fosse. Who, if you’re unaware, suffered a pretty bad injury that seriously impacted his career when, as a 23-year-old, he was bowled over at home plate by Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game.

It’s worth noting, though, that criticism of Rose’s collision with Fosse rarely centers on the notion of whether it’s OK to run into catcher in an absolute sense, but rather, whether Rose was right to do so in an exhibition game.  Indeed, for years you’ve heard this play cited an example of Pete Rose’s style of play, often admiringly, though with some qualification due to the fact that an injury was involved. So basically, no, there has not been anything approaching consistency about when such a play is a hard-nosed play and when it’s something that demands changes to the rule book.

And for what it’s worth, Fosse, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, said that he is not that impressed with calls to change the rules:

“The game has been around more than 100 years, and now they’re going to start protecting catchers? I can’t see anything that can be changed. In high school, you can’t run over a catcher. But that’s high school. This is professional baseball. The idea is to score runs. If the catcher has the ball and he’s standing there, the runner has to stop? Is that the protection? I can’t believe anything can be done, and I don’t see how you could regulate something like that.”

My first reaction yesterday was pretty much this. Not the part about “the game has been around for 100 years,” because tradition is a dumb reason not to fix something if it can be fixed.  But I do agree that cutting down on catcher injuries is less an issue for the rule book and more an issue for player training. Train runners to look for the open alley to the plate rather than assume they have to hit the catcher (which Scott Cousins could have done).  Train catchers to be content with a swipe tag if it’s available rather than risk bodily injury.

The best it seems you can do from a rules perspective is to give the umpires the authority to call a runner out automatically if, in coming into the plate, he goes out of his way to put an unnecessary hit on a catcher, much the same way that you’d call a runner out for leaving the base line. If you want to add something more punitive to it, eject him and/or make it a postgame disciplinary matter like we do with bean balls.

That still makes it a judgment call on the umpire’s part, and I’m always hesitant to give them more judgment calls, but I think that’s way preferable to a massive tinkering with rules or by banning contact with a catcher in all instances or what have you.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.