Money on the Table

Agent: Anibal Sanchez left money on the table

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Remember a couple of years ago how everyone said Cliff Lee “left money on the table” to sign with the Phillies? I actually doubt he left money on the table — no one knows for sure what the Yankees were offering him — but I was pleased that the “money on the table” metaphor got goosed with all of that.  I now like to picture all free agent negotiations taking place in a room with a big table and large stacks of cash.

Anyway, Lee must have let Anibal Sanchez borrow his table this past week:

Sanchez’s agent, Gene Mato, said that Sanchez left money on the table at the winter meetings, when an unnamed team offered him a contract, but that Sanchez didn’t want to make his decision on money, but rather comfortability.

Don’t say a thing about “comfortability.” I make up words all the time myself, and as long as everyone knows what they mean I think it’s good.

As for Sanchez leaving money on the table: I am doing the little Mr. Spock thing in which one eyebrow is raised. Partly out of skepticism, partly out of curiosity.

It would have to be a team which keeps its lips locked and about whom we tend not to hear rumors before something actually happens. The first two that spring to mind are the Blue Jays and the Yankees, and the Yankees aren’t in the market for an $80 million+ starting pitcher.  Could be the Jays, I suppose.

Or it could be an agent trying to make it sound like his client didn’t just use another team — the Cubs — as a bogey in order to extract a few extra million from the team with whom his client wanted to sign all along. What say you, Mr. Mato?

The next morning, he called me early in the morning and said, ‘Listen, I want to be a Tiger.’  It was pretty clear from the beginning, to me, that Anibal really wanted to be a Tiger, so I did everything in my ability to make that happen.”

Fascinating.

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: