Red Sox hire manager John Farrell away from the Blue Jays, send Mike Aviles to Toronto

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From Sean McAdam of CSN New England comes word that the Red Sox have hired current Blue Jays skipper John Farrell to be their next manager.

Farrell has already worked out a contract with Boston that will run through 2015. Compensation for Toronto will be announced in the next couple days.

The Red Sox interviewed Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus, Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, Yankees bench coach Tony Pena and Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale. But it was pretty clear from the start that their sights were set on Farrell, who served as Boston’s pitching coach from 2007-2010.

Farrell had a 154-170 managerial record in his two years with the Jays.

The Red Sox likely had to give up a decent prospect (or two) to get the deal completed. One wonders how smart it is for an organization in a sort of rebuilding mode to dip into its farm system in this fashion.

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UPDATE, 11:51 PM: According to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, the compensation involves two players switching clubs. No names yet, but Morosi hears the Blue Jays are getting a major leaguer.

UPDATE, 12:06 AM: Morosi says the Jays will be getting an infielder, but not Will Middlebrooks.

UPDATE, 12:12 AM: WEEI.com reports that the Blue Jays are receiving middle infielder Mike Aviles, who batted .250/.282/.381 with 13 home runs, 14 stolen bases and 60 RBI in 136 games this past season for the Red Sox. Toronto will send a player to be named or cash to Boston along with Farrell.

UPDATE, 12:21 AM: Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun says Adam Lind may be heading to the Sox.

UPDATE, SUNDAY 8:39 AM: Lind is not involved in the deal, writes Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.

UPDATE, SUNDAY 2:08 PM: The Red Sox are getting David Carpenter. The swap is complete.

Major League Baseball limits mound visits, puts off pitch clock until 2019

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Major League Baseball just announced its much awaited pace-of-play initiative for 2018. The big news: no pitch clock, with Rob Manfred deciding, in the words of the league’s press release “to defer the implementation of a pitch timer and a between-batter timer in 2018 in order to provide players with an opportunity to speed up the game without the use of those timers.”

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be changes. In rules changes which were reached with the cooperation of the Players’ Union, teams will now be limited to six non-pitching change mound visits per team per game, and one extra visit if the game goes into extra innings. Also, a new rule is being introduced that is designed to reduce the time required for inning breaks and pitching changes.

The mound visit rule is NOT limited to coach or manager mound visits. It also includes position players, including catchers, visiting the mound to confer about signals and the like. It will not count the normal conversations which take place between plays, such as when a pitcher says something to a fielder as they throw the ball around the horn. It likewise does not include things like a first baseman coming to the mound to clean his spikes off with the pitcher’s gear on the back of the mound. Mound visits to check on injuries will not count either.

While six visits may seem like a lot, it really isn’t once you realize that a pitching coach may go out two or three times in a close game and that a catcher, especially in close games, may come out to talk about signs and things seemingly countless times. Heck, they could re-name this the Jorge Posada or Gary Sanchez rule.

There will be one big exception to the rule, which relates to catchers and pitchers truly being crossed up on signals after they have exhausted mound visits. It reads thusly:

3) Cross-Up in Signs. In the event a team has exhausted its allotment of mound visits in a game (or extra inning) and the home plate umpire determines that the catcher and pitcher did not have a shared understanding of the location or type of pitch that had been signaled by the catcher (otherwise referred to as a “cross-up”), the home plate umpire may, upon request of the catcher, allow the catcher to make a brief mound visit. Any mound visit resulting from a cross-up prior to a team exhausting its allotted number of visits shall count against a team’s total number of allotted mound visits.

This makes sense as a matter of safety, if nothing else, as you don’t want a catcher truly not knowing where a pitch is going. It’s also notable as one of the few rules changes in recent years that actually adds in an umpire’s judgment rather than takes a judgment call away from an umpire. It’ll be worth watching, however, to see how easy a touch umpires are about this. Again: if we have a tense September game between Boston and New York and everyone has used up their mound visits, I wonder if the umps will truly enforce the rule.

The big problem here is that there is nothing in the new rule which talks about the penalty for trying to make a seventh mound visit. To that end:

This is gonna lead, at some point, to a pretty big argument. Should be amazing.

As for innings breaks, There will be a timer that counts down from 2:05 for breaks in locally televised regular season games, from 2:25 for breaks in nationally televised regular season games, and from 2:55 for postseason games. The timer shall start on the last out of an inning for an inning break. 

There are set things the players must be doing at certain points on the clock. To wit:

  • When there are 25 seconds left, the umpire will signal to the pitcher to complete his last warm-up pitch;
  • When there are 20 seconds left, the batter will be announced and must leave on-deck circle, his walk-up music shall begin, and the pitcher shall complete last warm-up pitch;
  • When the clock gets to zero, the pitcher must begin his motion for his first pitch of the inning.

There will be “special circumstance” exceptions, such as when other random things are happening on the field that prevents this, such as in-between inning events going too long or something, and an umpire can determine that a pitcher or batter needs more time for safety purposes.

Enforcement of the clock will be handled by umpires directing players to comply. Players who consistently or flagrantly violate the time limits will be subject to progressive discipline by the league. Put differently, no one is issuing automatic balls or strikes here. It’ll be handled by fines.