Craig Calcaterra

Jonathan Papelbon

Wale will buy Jonathan Papelbon’s new house if the Nats release him

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Jonathan Papelbon bought a new house in Alexandria, Virginia recently. Just closed on it two weeks ago, actually. You can read all about it at CSN Mid-Atlantic.com.

Of course now his future in Washington is uncertain. He’s under contract for next year but given his dustup with the face of the franchise, Bryce Harper, it’s not inconceivable the Nats could try to trade him or release him or something. If so, what will he do with his new pad in Virginia?

Never fear, Wale is here:

 

I lived in Alexandria several years ago. Belle Haven is as boring as hell, so I have no idea why Papelbon wants to live there. I have even less of an idea why Wale would. But I guess real estate comes with its own internal logic.

 

Manfred: No on NL DH, yes on pace-of-game experiments

Rob Manfred
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NEW YORK (AP) Rob Manfred envisions more experiments with speed-up rules, such as limiting pitching changes and trips to the mound, or requiring each pitcher to face multiple batters.

Speaking at the Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium on Wednesday, the new baseball commissioner said he doesn’t see any need to expand the designated hitter to the National League. Manfred also expects teams and the players’ association to discuss possible changes to September call-ups during collective bargaining for a contract that starts before the 2017 season.

Concerned the average time of nine-inning games climbed to 3 hours, 2 minutes in 2014, owners and players agreed to install clocks to time between-innings breaks and pitching changes, and to require hitters to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box in many instances. The average has dropped to 2:56 this season.

More radical rules, such as a 20-second pitch clock, were used in the high minor leagues.

“You will see a continuing evolution of our rules in order to speed the game,” Manfred said to the audience at Citi Field. “Things like visits to the mound, both catcher and manager visits. It’s always been astounding to me exactly what wisdom is imparted in those visits, with all due respect to the great managers.”

Playing rules can be changed without the union’s consent only with one year of advance notice. MLB has preferred to make alterations players agree to.

“We’ve actually talked about more fundamental changes,” Manfred said. “Pitching changes are a huge part of the length of the game – limiting the number or requiring a pitcher to pitch to at least two batters, something like that.”

Manfred said he wasn’t sure any players were fined for violating the speed-up rules this year. He also said he didn’t think every speed-up idea MLB experiments with will be adopted.

Manfred said he understood why the Red Sox did not interview minority candidates when Boston owner John Henry hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations in August, two weeks after Dombrowski was fired by Detroit. In 1999, then Commissioner Bud Selig started requiring teams to interview minority candidates for openings at general manager, assistant GM, manager, director of player development and director of scouting.

“He had worked for John Henry before. There was a personal relationship there. The Red Sox were not engaged in a search,” Manfred said. “Dave became available during the season. It was a fait accompli as to what was going to happen, and I recognized the reality of that situation and let the hiring go forward. I see it as a unique set of circumstances.”

Manfred noted that nine of the 36 first-round draft picks this year were African-American, a sign baseball’s efforts were “starting to bear fruit.” The percentage of African-Americans in the major leagues has been cut in half since peaking at about 18 percent at times from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s.

Since succeeding Selig in January, Manfred has made youth baseball a priority.

“We had underinvested in what is an extraordinarily competitive market – that is, for youth sports. Kids have far more choices today that we did,” he said. “I think that it is very important to us that we attract world-class athletes. And in order to attract the best athletes and keep enough of them in the game to make our product compelling, you have to have play in all segments of our society, and as a result, we have to place a special focus on underserved areas.”

On other topics, Manfred said of reconsidering September roster expansion to 40: “It was a topic in the last round of bargaining. Because we didn’t make a deal, I don’t think anybody really realizes that it was extensively discussed, and I suspect it will be a topic of discussion this time around.”

And on Alex Rodriguez‘s return from his 2014 drug suspension, Manfred said: “He’s done a really good job. He’s played very well. He’s gone out of his way to try to do the right thing with respect to off-field matters, and I couldn’t be happier for him.”

The Washington Nationals season of chaos

Matt Williams
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We can talk about Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. We can talk about injuries. We can talk about those Amazin’ Mets. But just about everything you need to know about the 2015 Washington Nationals can be found in this amazing article from Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post.

In it, Svrluga talks about how general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams lost this team. About how the trade for Jonathan Papelbon upset a good portion of the clubhouse and how Williams’ treatment of his players upset anyone who wasn’t already angry and further antagonized those who were.

Two major examples Svrluga cites of Williams’ failure: (1) his poor management of the bullpen which, in addition to putting the wrong guys in the wrong situations, alienated players and put them into a position where they were less likely to succeed; and (2) not communicating with players about their roles and playing time.

A vivid example of the latter came when Jayson Werth showed up one day to find that he was not in the lineup. Svrluga notes something most of us don’t think about much: getting mad about not being in the lineup is not necessarily an ego thing. It’s a preparation thing. If you know you’re sitting, you can relax more. Maybe sleep more. Maybe come in later. You can actually get a mental break the night before and day of a game that may be just as much if not more needed than the physical break. As such, managers let players know when they’re going to get a day off after the previous game. Williams didn’t do that, and it led to this scene with Werth, who had just discovered his name was not in the lineup:

Incensed, Werth ripped the lineup card off the wall, bellowing that it was going to change. Then, according to several people who were present, he confronted Williams — not just about whether he would play that day, but about what most of the clubhouse considered to be a chronic lack of communication with his players. Among the most jarring barbs, from Werth to Williams: “When exactly do you think you lost this team?”

Absolutely damning stuff.

If Williams and possibly Mike Rizzo have a job on Monday, I will be shocked. And I will be inclined to believe that the Lerners simply don’t give a crap about their team.