Kevin Towers

Is there room for Wade Miley under that bus?

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Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers is a dinosaur, no doubt, but he’s also in charge of a major league baseball team, so we have little choice but to take him somewhat seriously, even when he goes on to a radio show (Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo show, to be specific) says stuff like this:

“I was sitting behind home plate that game and when it showed up on the Diamondvision of stuffing bananas down their throats, I felt like we were a punching bag,”

“Literally, if I would have had a carton of baseballs I would have fired them into the dugout from where I was sitting behind home plate.”

“You’d think the GM comes down and makes it a point to talk to the staff about it that at we need to start protecting our own and doing things differently. Probably a week later Goldy gets dinged, and no retaliation. It’s like ‘wait a minute.”

“Some of [the pitchers], contractually, it’s tough to move. But I think come spring training, it will be duly noted that it’s going to be an eye for an eye and we’re going to protect one another.”

Well, with quotes like that, one would think the Diamondbacks must have been plunked, what, twice as often as they hit batters? At least significantly more often, right?

No, of course not. Diamondbacks pitchers hit 60 batters this year. Their hitters were plunked 43 times.

But not all hit by pitches are created equal. What about the Diamondbacks’ big star, the aforementioned Goldy. The guy opposing teams were throwing at weekly. Or monthly. Or every other month.

Paul Goldschmidt was hit three times all year, on April 22 by the Giants, on July 31 by the Rays and on Sept. 19 by the Dodgers.

Interesting enough, Wade Miley was the pitcher all three times Goldschmidt was hit. And he was the one who never retaliated. The sophomore left-hander hit just four batters all season.

So, get rid of him, obviously. He’s making practically the minimum, so he’s not one of those guys who would be “contractually tough to move.” That was kind of an odd comment, too. The Diamondbacks’ only pitchers who would be tough to move without eating cash are Brandon McCarthy and relievers J.J. Putz and Heath Bell. And McCarthy would only be tough to move because the Diamondbacks backloaded his two-year deal so that he’ll make $9 million next year. Even so, there might be interested teams. Trevor Cahill isn’t exactly a bargain at $20 million for the next two years, but there are teams that would take that on.

So, get the Padres back on the phone. Ian Kennedy was the closest thing the Diamondbacks had to an enforcer this year, setting off a brawl with the Dodgers and hitting 10 batters in all. Which didn’t stop Towers from giving him away at the trade deadline. But if Towers asks nicely enough, surely the Padres will send him back to Arizona for that softy Miley.

Anyway, a lot of this is Towers diverting attention after his remade roster did no better than his old one. Not only is it a pathetic way to do so, but it should really get him fined by the league. Baseball doesn’t need its general managers publicly advocating throwing at and hitting batters.

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: