Jerry Crasnick of ESPN assesses how those pace-of-play rules/experiments went in the Arizona Fall League. The upshot: some progress — Joe Torre thinks it went well — but a lot of weirdness too, and musings from various players and executives as to how things like pitch clocks may work in the majors.
There are a lot of good observations in there from various people, noting possible gray areas innovations like pitch clocks and rules about the number of mound meetings may reveal. Some dumb stuff too — Braves defacto GM John Hart seems to love pitchers delaying the game when it’s his pitcher doing it and not when it’s other guys (note his Dennis Martinez anecdote) — but most of it makes sense.
Which is why it was an experiment. As we’ve argued here, MLB should get this right and start small rather than go with gimmicky solutions. If it really messes things up, well, think hard about it. If it merely annoys people, well, tough.
As for where we go from here?
Hmm. Maybe someone should put a clock on them . . .
The Tigers have washed their hands of Torii Hunter. The Blue Jays may be interested:
If they do sign him, expect a lot more of those “the Blue Jays have really gone for great clubhouse guys and leaders!” stories, matching him up with Russell Martin in this regard. Most of these will be based on Hunter’s excellent relationship with the media, of course, and won’t really be based on, you know, his actual track record. But things have always worked that way, no?
On the baseball merits, one wonders how well the 38-year-old Hunter can hold up on the Rogers Centre turf. And how his already substandard defense would play on the faster track.
The highly-sought-after Yasmany Tomas is going to attend the Winter Meetings in San Diego, which begin December 8, reports Jon Heyman. Which means that he is unlikely to sign before then.
He was predicted to sign with someone last weekend, but that obviously didn’t go down. There is a lot of interest in him so, presumably, he is letting his market develop. Which is a fancy way of saying that he’s letting people fight over him. Which is probably good for him.
I’ll be at the Winter Meetings. I’ll make an offer to him if I see him, but it’s really just gonna be a kicking the tires kind of thing. It certainly won’t be aggressive.
Jeff Blair of Sportsnet writes about how Russell Martin will fit in as a team leader in Toronto. As part of that, he goes back to Martin’s 2006 debut with the Dodgers and how the veterans on that team dealt with losing streaks:
They had lost five games in a row and called up Martin to make his major-league debut going into a Cinco de Mayo tilt at Petco Park against the San Diego Padres, and a friend of Garciaparra’s had given him a bottle of tequila. So Garciaparra put two and two together and figured the team should do shots in order to break the losing streak. Martin, 23 and on the verge of going 2-for-4 in what would be the first of 121 games in his rookie season, sat there with a bemused expression and looked up as Josh Rawitch — now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but back then the Dodgers’ public relations director — sidled over and said, “Don’t worry. It’s not like this happens every day.”
I want to believe that’s true, but memories may be weird. Martin’s May 5, 2006 debut was actually in Los Angeles against the Brewers — the Padres had actually been in L.A. just before, bringing that losing streak to five games — so I assume it was a postgame tequila party, not the pregame shots this anecdote implies.
All of that said — and with all of my past skepticism about veteran leadership and it often being oversold — I do think Martin will be a nice addition to a Blue Jays team that has often seemed rudderless. Even if he doesn’t make everyone do tequila shots.
Baseball’s owners will meet in Kansas City today and Jon Heyman reports that they’re expected to vote to give Rob Manfred a five-year contract. Manfred takes over on January 25.
Now word if anyone will ask Manfred if he’s “embarrassed” to make the likely tens of millions a year he will make.