Mariners designate Hector Noesi for assignment

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Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners have designated Hector Noesi for assignment. To fill his spot on the roster, the Mariners have called up 22-year-old right-hander Dominic Leone.

Noesi was acquired along with Jesus Montero in the trade that sent Michael Pineda to the Yankees. He struggled to start the 2014 season, allowing two runs to the Angels in his season debut on Wednesday, and serving up a walk-off solo home run to Coco Crisp in the 12th inning on Thursday night.

Noesi is only 27 years old and will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season, so his youth and ability to be cost-controlled could make him attractive to other teams.

Leone has put up impressive numbers in his 97 innings in professional baseball. Last season, split between Single-A and Double-A, Leone posted a 2.25 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 17 unintentional walks in 64 innings. The Mariners will likely use him exclusively in low-leverage situations, but his strikeout potential could make him an attractive option to use in the late innings as the season progresses.

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Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.