MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports that Will Middlebrooks’ name has come up in trade talks between the White Sox and Red Sox regarding Jake Peavy.
The Red Sox, on the hunt for a starting pitcher with Clay Buchholz out, scouted Peavy’s last start against the Braves and will take another look at him Thursday, when he matches up against the Tigers and Justin Verlander.
A deal sending Middlebrooks to Chicago would be ironic, since it was Middlebrooks’ emergence that played in a role in the Red Sox practically giving away Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox last summer. If the Red Sox were to part with Middlebrooks now, they’d seemingly be setting themselves up to go forward with a Xander Bogaerts-Jose Iglesias left side of the infield in future years, though Bogaerts probably won’t be up for the start of 2014.
Peavy would be a risky acquisition for Boston. He’s made 30 starts just once since 2007, and he’ll fall short again this year after missing time in the first half with a fractured rib. When healthy, he’s gone 7-4 with a 4.19 ERA and a 69/15 K/BB ratio in 73 innings for the White Sox. And while it’s so long ago that it probably doesn’t matter now, Peavy was a disaster in his only two postseason starts, going 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA for the Padres in consecutive NLDSs with the Padres in 2005 and ’06.
As for his contract situation, Peavy is making $14.5 million both this year and next. He also has a $15 million player option for 2015, but that only kicks in if he throws 400 innings these two years and that probably isn’t happening.
12:02 a.m. EDT update: WEEI’s Alex Speier is already refuting this one. His source says there’s been no mention of Middlebrooks in trade talks.
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: