Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post is hearing that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is “definitely” on the Cubs’ wish list for their vacant general manager position. We’ve heard a ton of names surface as potential candidates since Jim Hendry was fired two weeks ago, so I’m beginning to think the Cubs just love everyone.
Anyway, Rizzo grew up in Chicago and still has some family in the area, but shot down any speculation that he could be interested in the job.
“I grew up on Waveland Avenue for 30 years, right down the street from the ballpark,” Rizzo said. “And there’s nowhere I’d rather be than the Washington Nationals right now, with where we’re at and what we’re doing and the commitment that the Lerners have shown to me. They’re my hometown team. They were my team growing up. I went to many, many games there. But this is the place I need to be.”
Rizzo signed a five-year extension last offseason, so this probably isn’t a realistic scenario in the first place, but he would be out of his mind to leave now. The National League East doesn’t figure to be an easy place to win any time soon, but after being lucky enough to draft Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in consecutive seasons and spending over $17 million in bonuses in this year’s draft class, Rizzo has laid the groundwork for a perennial contender. You know, as long as you can overlook the Jayson Werth thing.
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: