File this under not-so-deep thoughts, but for the past couple of days a lot of people have been asking how much money Albert Pujols has made himself on the free agent market due to his big World Series. And I can’t help but wonder why it changes anything.
As Jon Heyman writes today, there are a bunch of reasons why money — while important — won’t be the only thing on Pujols’ mind as he starts negotiating with teams in November. Unlike a lot of big free agents there’s legacy and stature at stake and there’s also the fact that, unlike a lot of other free agents, Pujols would do better sticking where he is if wanting to play for a winner is his objective. St. Louis wins a lot. Heyman’s source notes that it’s gonna take more than a few million more on the offer sheet for a team to seem that much more attractive to Pujols than his current situation.
Is there a team out there willing to go several million per year higher than St. Louis? Sure, it’s possible. But it will take that and not just topping the Cardinals by a little bit that will alter Pujols’ plans. And I don’t think that Pujols’ bigtime World Series is going to make him several million more dollars a year valuable to anyone. We know what he’s capable of by now.
I tend to think differently about C.J. Wilson, who starts Game 5 tonight. Unlike Pujols he has no legacy. Unlike Pujols, his place in the market is much less certain. People have told me I’m misreading this, but I do think that if Wilson lays an egg tonight — a night which will likely be his last appearance before free agency — that it will affect his market.
He’s had a bad postseason. He’s showing people that just because he’s a team’s number one starter doesn’t mean that he’s an ace. Are you telling me that the Yankees, for example, aren’t wondering if Wilson doesn’t have “A.J. Burnett Sequel” written all over him? That he won’t instantly come under serious scrutiny by the New York press as the Mr. Anti-October?
One game — or a couple of games — doesn’t make a difference if you’re Albert Pujols. I can’t help but think that a couple of games are making a difference for C.J. Wilson. Is that nuts?
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: