The Yankees’ recent strong stretch combined with the continued stumbling of the Orioles, Sox and Rays has given them a bit of a cushion. That said, they’d still probably want to add a starter if they can. Bur from the sounds of it, they aren’t terribly eager to go big game hunting at the deadlines.
After noting that the Yankees will stay “in the loop” on Cole Hamels, but likely won’t be big players for him because he’ll cost too much, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post handicaps the other top starters on the block:
The Yankees are not interested in Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke, just as they didn’t engage Kansas City in Greinke talks during the 2010-11 offseason. They don’t view his personality as a good fit in New York. The other big-name starting pitcher in his walk year, the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster, doesn’t meet the Lee/Hamels threshold of being a decided upgrade over what the Yankees already have.
The “we’re worried about Greinke’s makeup” thing is kind of frustrating. I think we have enough random data points suggesting that Greinke wouldn’t necessarily crumble under the pressure of New York as opposed to just be kind of out-of-synch with it because he doesn’t play the media game like everyone else does. But we’ll never know, I don’t think, because it just doesn’t seem like someone is willing to take the chance. And Greinke himself may steer himself back to a place like Kansas City or down to Atlanta or something once he hits free agency. Just one of those what coulda been things.
As for Garza and Dempster: I’m a bit dubious of the assertion that at least Dempster wouldn’t be an improvement for the Yankees. Of course, there probably isn’t a team who has fewer legitimate leaks and rumors regarding their actual intentions when it comes to free agents and trades and stuff than the Yankees, so they could very well be doing something and we wouldn’t know much about it until it went down.
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: