Fernando Martinez

Four Biogenesis minor leaguers to remain suspended into 2014

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Part of the rush to get the Biogenesis suspensions announced now was to allow major leaguers could finish their bans this year (and thus not appeal said bans). Things won’t go so smoothly for minor leaguers, though. Of the 13 players about to be suspended by Major League Baseball, four are not on 40-man rosters and will have to continue serving out their suspensions next year, a source familiar with the investigation told NBCSports.com’s Craig Calcaterra . Those four are:

Astros reliever Sergio Escalona
Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez
Padres reliever Fautino De Los Santos
Free agent reliever Jordan Norberto

Jesus Montero of the Mariners and Cesar Puello and Jordany Valdespin of the Mets are also currently in the minors, but since they’re on 40-man rosters, they’re treated as major leaguers, meaning all three will be allowed to finish out their suspensions this year.

There are currently about 28-29 minor league games remaining in the season. Any playoff games will also likely count towards the 50, but Escalona, Martinez and De Los Santos will be prevented from playing for the first weeks of 2014.

All four players have major league experience. Escalona, who has been hurt this year, had allowed 11 runs in 15 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi. Martinez, who is always hurt, was at .325/.394/.554 with four homers in 83 at-bats for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after signing on with the Yankees in June. De Los Santos did his best work for the A’s in 2011. He’s pitched just 2 1/3 innings in the Padres system this year.

It remains to be seen whether the league will give any special consideration to Norberto, who can’t actually serve his suspension while unemployed and who isn’t likely to receive much interest with the suspension hanging over his head. Norberto had a 2.77 ERA in 52 innings for the A’s last year before falling apart this spring and getting hurt. He was released earlier this year.

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Update: Puello was incorrectly listed as being in with the group of minor leaguers. He’s a member of the Mets’ 40-man roster and will be allowed to complete his suspension this year.

De Los Santos’ status as a Padres minor leaguer has been corrected. He was released by the team earlier this season (and mistakenly listed as a free agent here), but he was re-signed to a minor league contract.

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: