Last week, we learned that Major League Baseball planned to test in the lowest levels of the minor league a new rule for extra innings: starting each inning with a runner on second base. Chief baseball officer Joe Torre seemed to be enthusiastic about the idea.
However, when the idea was publicized last week, it was roundly mocked. Anecdotally, I didn’t see anyone in full-fledged support of the idea. Those that were open to it were doing so in a more “crane your neck to look at the car wreck” kind of way.
Having absorbed a week’s worth of criticism over the idea, Rob Manfred spoke today and backtracked a bit on the idea, suggesting that he doesn’t expect the rule to ever be implemented in the majors. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
There’s special purpose rules. Like pitch counts in the WBC or starting the 10th inning with a runner on base. What do I mean by “special purpose rule”? These rules or rule changes are designed to serve a purpose in some narrow settings and we don’t really expect that we’re ever going to apply them at the major league level, at least in the short term. In rookie ball where crowds are small, games are really developmental, starting the 10th inning with a runner on base makes sense because there’s really no developmental reason to play 18 innings and end with a shortstop pitching. And who knows, if we remain open-minded, we may learn something from this experiment that’s helpful moving forward.
In the end, though, baseball’s efforts to speed the game up miss the biggest offender: pitching changes. Finding a way to limit the down time between them, or limiting the amount of them that a manager can make would go a long way towards improving the pace of play.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.
Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.
Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.
Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.
It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.
Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.