Morgan Ensberg has a blog and it's pretty good

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Ensberg.jpgThe former Astros’ third baseman has a blog and some pretty interesting insights about Barry Zito plunking Prince Fielder — Ensberg lists his own rules for hitting a guy — as well as the strike zone.  Here’s Ensberg after noting that Bud Selig is against automating the calling of balls and strikes because he likes “the human element”:

Yeah whatever dude.  Getting booed sucks.  It ripped my heart in
half to hear the fans in Houston boo me.  As a result I no longer
concentrated on the game and instead concentrated on not getting
booed.   That was too much heat for me and I buckled.  The same thing
will happen to the umpires.

Umpires have a really difficult job.  You may think it is easy to
call a ball or a strike, but you don’t see what Major League pitchers
can do with the ball.  Major League catchers can frame a ball that
makes an umpire look like they missed it. You don’t probably consider
that the camera is “off-set”.   But in the end, it is the heat of the
fans, managers, and players that causes that strike zone to expand.

Prediction: Technology will cause the strike zone to shrink at first and we may see
an increase in offensive production.  After a year of that, the strike
zone will expand to its intended definition and pitchers will finally
get to throw a high strike.

I think what he means by the zone shrinking if things get automated is that pitchers will not get the corner calls they’re used to, while simultaneously being afraid to throw what is a textbook — and presumably computer-judged high strike — at first, but that they’ll soon adjust and start working up the ladder the way your old man’s favorite pitchers used to do in the 60s and 70s.  Interesting thought, and something I’d like to see.

More generally, I like to see ballplayers and former ballplayers like Ensberg speaking directly to the public like this.  As I’ll note later this morning, there is something deeply artificial and unilluminating about the reporter-ballplayer dynamic, what with all the cliches and mistrust and everything.  I don’t figure we’ll see a lot of ballplayers saying “whatever, dude” to Bud Selig, but the more of these guys who let loose in the blogosphere and on Twitter, the more we’ll learn so much more about this here game we love.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.