Greetings from the last day of the Winter Meetings

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We’re never going to have any resolution on Albert Pujols, I feel. He will have multiple ten-year offers waiting for his decision until the end of time and, in the meantime, he’ll play on barnstorming tours. For a mystery barnstorming team. It’s just fitting.

The lobby of the Hilton Anatole has gotten simply punchy by now. Rumors all seemed so fresh and exciting on Monday morning and now they evoke eye rolls and then guesses as to who will debunk them first.  This is all a very interesting scene, but it’s one where there is far more talk than action. And the action is what really matters.

Here’s some action: people are tracking a private jet that is currently en route from St. Louis to Dallas, convinced that it’s Pujols coming down here to announce that he has signed with … the Nippon Ham Fighters? Manchester United? The Four Horsemen?  Who knows? We’ll know when someone says so.

Until then we’ll watch and wait and maybe pretend we care about today’s Rule 5 draft a little.  Oh, and we’ll try to figure out how to get our coats to stop smelling like the Lockhart Smokehouse. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.