World Series Cardinals Red Sox Baseball

Playing favorites finally comes back to bite Red Sox manager John Farrell

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We’ve been over this before, but…

Jonny Gomes against RHP in 2013: .258/.341/.404 in 151 AB
Jonny Gomes against RHP career: .225/.310/.423 in 1,863 AB

Daniel Nava against RHP in 2013: .322/.411/.484 in 339 AB
Daniel Nava against RHP career: .292/.390/.443 in 657 AB

John Farrell knows these numbers. He played Nava over Gomes against right-handers all year as the Red Sox went about producing the American League’s best record. Yet something changed in October. It’s certainly nothing that Gomes has done in the batter’s box: his 0-for-4 in Thursday’s Game 2 loss left him 5-for-32 with two doubles and two RBI in the postseason.

But Farrell likes Gomes’ presence. He likes Gomes’ beard (who doesn’t?). He likes the way Gomes spies that willing reporter and manages to give a postgame interview every night.

And Farrell rode Gomes as a good-luck charm. Gomes even had Timmy McCarver singling him out as a “winner” tonight. The Red Sox were 7-0 when Gomes had started in the postseason, which is why he was making his fourth straight start tonight.

Hopefully, the spell is broken now, because lo and behold, the Red Sox might have found a match in a World Series for once. They can’t afford to continue starting the inferior player with the Cardinals throwing nothing but right-handers.

Look, here are all of the players to post higher OBPs against right-handed pitchers than Nava this season: Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo, David Ortiz, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. Those are pretty well known guys, right? Some might say it’s good company. Not only should Nava be starting against the Cardinals, but he should be hitting second in place of Shane Victorino. But maybe just work on the whole “getting him in the lineup at all” thing first.

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: