As is usually the case, the Tigers closer situation is uncertain heading into the offseason. That’s because the guy they finally got to stick in the role this past season — Joaquin Benoit — is a free agent. Dave Dombrowski addressed the closer role and other matters yesterday, and John Lowe of the Free Press has the story.
Upshot: sounds like they’re not messing around with Bruce Rondon again. Maybe he’s in the major league bullpen mix, but the Tigers are going to try for a proven closer (to the extent that term means anything). Benoit is one of the proven closer candidates, by the way. Because unlike last May he is now proven. Or something.
Also: Dombrowski surprised no one in saying that it’s unlikely that Jhonny Peralta will be back. They have a shortstop in Jose Iglesias, he said, and while Peralta got some time in left field for Detroit in the playoffs, they still think of him as an infielder. You figure that Peralta will shop himself as a shortstop too, given the relative dearth of offense at that position in the game.
Oh, and go to the end of the article for the mention of Robinson Cano. It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone mention him and the Tigers in the same breath. My assumption is that it’ll be among the last too, as the Tigers’ payroll is already huge. Of course I didn’t think they’d sign Prince Fielder until the moment they did too, so never say never.
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:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.