Boston Red Sox Carl Crawford slaps hands with a teammate after scoring a run against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of American League MLB baseball action at Fenway Park in Boston

Report: Red Sox, Marlins talking about a trade involving Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell

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UPDATE: Olney just killed everyone’s buzz. BUT I STILL BELIEVE, MAN!

2:01 PM: This sounds like a total hot mess of a trade rumor, but I freakling LOVE hot messes, so:

Nightengale has updated it with a longer story citing three sources. Wowzers. Where to begin.

On a dollars and cents scale, this would easily be one of the biggest trades in baseball history, as Crawford, Ramirez and Bell are owed nearly $240 million among them.  It would also involve a big problem (Bell stinks this year) a lesser, but more chronic problem (Ramirez’s increasingly erratic production and always interesting attitude) and an absolute sell-low guy (Crawford, who is TWO GAMES back from injuries and still near the beginning of a monster deal).

Given the ascension of Will Middlebrooks, this would certainly mean that Ramirez would be a shortstop again. Which would make his bat more valuable, but it’s a position one wonders how long he can handle. Crawford’s game may be better suited to Marlins Park, but again, why the Red Sox would give up on him now when his stock can only rise? It’s not like the Marlins are going to take that whole contract on, are they?

Such a trade would raise more questions than it would answer. I don’t get it, and I suspect that this is just one of those things people shoot the breeze about more than they seriously contemplate it.

But if it were to happen? Wow!

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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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.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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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: