7:13 p.m. EST update: Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Astros tried to interest the Indians in Carlos Lee, but that even covering half of his $18 million salary wasn’t enough to tempt Cleveland. Lee does offer a solid right-handed bat, but he’d have to come in at significantly less than $9 million to be attractive. Willingham isn’t likely to get any more than that annually, and Derrek Lee could probably be had for $7 million-$8 million.
With the price tags for Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham proving high, the Indians are looking to trade for a right-handed hitter to help at first base and/or in the outfield, FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports.
Morosi states that the Indians would be willing to tap into their relief depth to facilitate a deal. Closer Chris Perez seems likely to stay, but righties Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith and lefties Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez could potentially be had, though Pestano wouldn’t come cheap.
Florida’s Gaby Sanchez would be an obvious target for Cleveland if the Marlins can sign Albert Pujols. Sanchez hit .266/.352/.427 with 19 homers and 78 RBI in 572 at-bats last season, and since he’s not even arbitration eligible yet, his addition would still leave the Indians with money to play with. The problem there is that the Marlins are content with their pen and will likely seek a young starter in return for Sanchez.
San Diego’s Kyle Blanks is another who would make sense, and the Padres are looking for relief help. Blanks, 25, hit .229/.300/.406 9n 170 at-bats for the Padres after returning from Tommy John surgery last season. He’s miscast as an outfielder, but he’d offer plenty of power potential at first base. Despite playing half his games in Petco, he’s hit 20 homers in 420 at-bats as a major leaguer.
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: