At the end of September, the Phillies said goodbye to longtime pitching coach Rich Dubee. Dubee had been with the club for nine seasons. In November, the Phillies announced they had hired Bob McClure to be their new pitching coach. McClure had previously coached for the Rockies, Royals, and Red Sox.
Also during the off-season, the Phillies hired an analytics “extern”, who eventually became a full-time employee — the organization’s first foray into analytics. The Phillies have been the laughingstock of the league, not just for their hesitance to embrace 21st-century ideas, but for their outright dismissal of them. In January last year, in defense of his signing of Delmon Young, GM Ruben Amaro famously said that he isn’t concerned with a player’s [lack of] walks, and that he cares about his overall production.
McClure said recently, “There’s a lot of good old-school baseball people here and that intrigued me.” McClure added that he thinks the use of baseball data can be “overdone”. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
McClure’s keep-it-simple style won’t include bombarding his pitchers with analytical data. He believes too much of that can get in the way of executing the pitch.
“So many organizations are getting into the computer and data and number crunching,” he said. “There’s a lot of good old-school baseball people here and that intrigued me.
“I use it. I think there’s a place for old school with the new stuff and a place for new stuff with the old school. I think a mixture is good. But for me, I think it can be overdone.”
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
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.