Commissioner Bud Selig recently announced the proposed additions to the sport’s use of instant replay, including the implementation of a challenge system. It was panned almost universally by pundits and fans, and even a majority of managers aren’t looking forward to it. Orioles manager Buck Showalter, however, is not among them.
CSN Baltimore’s Rich Dubroff’s latest article has a ton of quotes from Showalter on the new system. Though his enthusiasm seems a bit subdued, he is happy baseball is embracing the use of technology more and more.
“I knew the capability they had. They can take it as far as you want to take it. When you have to watch a replay three times to see if it’s right or wrong, it shows you the challenge they have. I can’t imagine a harder sport to umpire or officiate,” Showalter said.
“I think you’d be surprised at how little delay there actually is. There’ll be some problems. They haven’t sat down and talked to us and shouldn’t because it actually isn’t until next year.”
While the new system portends to get more calls right than ever before, it still has some obvious flaws, in that the nature of the system will still let otherwise-reviewable plays stand without review, either because a manager is stategically reserving his challenges, or because a manager has already used up his allotment. The system has certainly thrived in the NFL, but as George Carlin told us many years ago, the two sports are very, very different.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.