Craig Calcaterra

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Report: The pitch clock is coming to Double-A and Triple-A

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Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi report that, if the owners have their way, the pitch clock is coming to Double-A and Triple-A games in 2015. It will not, however, come to the major leagues. Not yet anyway.

This is the result of baseball’s experimenting with rules to speed up the pace-of-play during this past Arizona Fall League season. The pitch clock, the most notable of these innovations, was a physical clock on the wall behind the plate, in the outfield and in the dugout which stipulated that a pitcher had 20 seconds between pitches to get the ball back, get his sign from the catcher, and begin his delivery.

The report also says that the owners would propose a rule for Double-A and Triple-A which would require batters to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box between pitches.

For the rule to take effect, the owners have to vote to adopt it, which this report from Rosenthal and Morosi says they are poised to do. Then it must be approved by the MLBPA. Given how significant a change this is, the decision to start only in the minor leagues likely improves the chances of the union’s approval, inasmuch as its members will not, for the most part, be subject to it.

It’s also probably a smart way to roll such a thing out. A handful of games in the Arizona Fall League are likely not enough in which to iron out the wrinkles a pitch clock is likely to create in the fabric of the game. Better to have early mistakes and tweaks made in minor league games than major league games. And it’s more likely players would not oppose it coming to the major leagues at a later date if they see that, for a year or two, it worked just fine in the minors. Were it not for the the technical constraints involved, they likely would’ve done replay like this too.

I’m very curious to see how this works. Assuming, of course, it happens at all.

Matt Moore aiming for a June return

matt moore getty
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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Matt Moore is slated to start throwing off the mound in the last week of January. He began soft tossing and throwing on flat ground in September. This schedule — which is still the original schedule, as Moore has not suffered any setbacks — would have him return to the Rays in June.

Moore, who is still just 25-years-old, is 29-17 with a 3.53 ERA in 63 career games, 61 of which were starts. He has an extremely team-friendly contract and, for as much shuffling and rebuilding as the Rays have done lately, he still looks to be a part of the team’s future.

 

Braves trade Evan Gattis to the Astros for three prospects

evan gattis getty
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I updated my will recently because I was worried that, at some point in 2015, I would literally have a stroke or a heart attack or something and drop dead on the spot from watching Evan Gattis play left field for the Atlanta Braves. Now, it seems, I do not have to worry. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have traded Gattis to the Houston Astros for a “trio of prospects.”  Joel Sherman reports that that trio is Michael Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz and Andrew Thurman.

Gattis is obviously a beast in the power department. He hit.263/.317/.493 with 22 homers in 401 plate appearances last year, but he is certainly an all-or-nothing hitter, striking out 97 times. He also has some defensive liabilities, especially if he’s asked to do anything but catch. The Astros could DH him. Or, depending on what they think about his framing abilities — which are supposed to be good — as opposed to his overall receiving and ability to throw out baserunners — not great — could have him catch some as well. Still: he’s a bat first and foremost.

As for the package the Braves are getting in return, Foltynewicz, a right-hander, was the Astros’ first rounder in 2010. He’s 23-years-old and last year spent his first time in Triple-A, where he posted a 7-7 record and an ERA of 5.08. He also had a cup of coffee with the big club. The Astros’ fourth overall prospect before 2014, he strikes out guys at a decent clip and had a chance to compete for a slot in Houston’s rotation this season.

Ruiz is a third baseman who hit .293/.387/.436 in high-A-ball last year. He showed mostly doubles power, but he’s also only 20-years-old. If the power develops and he can stick at third base defensively, he profiles as a nice prospect.

Thurman, also a right-hander, just turned 23. He was a second rounder in 2013 from U-C Irvine. He posted fairly unimpressive numbers in A-ball.

A power infusion for the Astros. A couple of building blocks for the future for the Braves. Instant reaction: seems like a good deal for Atlanta if, for no other reason, than it keeps Gattis from playing left field.

 

Don Mattingly: “If you’re not using analytics . . . you’re a fool”

Don Mattingly
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I have no idea what the question was that led to this or whether it even was couched in Dave Stewart’s comments about “True Baseball Teams” who don’t emphasize analytics, but I am going to choose to believe that this is Don Mattingly responding to Stewart, thereby stoking an already kinda fun Dodgers-Dbacks rivalry:

Question: do “True Baseball Teams” have pools behind the outfield fence?

Arolids Chapman donated a locker room to a volleyball team

Aroldis Chapman
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That’s pretty much the whole story. But you can read the details about it here.

I link this because I’m put in mind of that feature story from last year about Chapman sort of lazing around his house, smoking Marlboros, sleeping until the afternoon while his family sits around waiting for him to come downstairs and, like, eating a sandwich and sitting by the pool.

And then I wonder what part of the day it hit him “hey, I’m going to give that volleyball team a locker room.”