Bobby Valentine would welcome automated ball and strike calls

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Bobby Valentine got ejected arguing balls and strikes on Sunday. Yesterday he was asked about it and went on for some time about how insufficient human umpires are when it comes to calling the balls and the strikes.

He didn’t quite call for robot umpires at first. After talking about how bad it was that umpires can’t get the calls right and after decrying  the “human element,” he said “let the humans do it somehow.”  But then he was pushed a bit:

Reminded that humans are bound to make mistakes in whatever job, Valentine responded: “Don’t make it their job, then. The rule book doesn’t say that the game will be played and arbitrarily ruled.”  Valentine said umpires are “well-trained and very good at what they do. But I think it’s almost impossible to do what they do. So why do we ask them to do the impossible?

He went on to note how these days pitchers throw stuff that has all kinds of crazy late movement that is often invisible from an umpire’s point of view, adding “They can’t see it. They’re humans. We’re asking humans to do a feat that a human can’t do.”

This is probably the closest I’ve heard any active umpire call for automated umpiring of any kind. Indeed, most even stop short of calling for more replay, even right after their teams are boned by a bad call and they all but implore the league to do something about it.  It’s almost as if there is some diktat imposed on managers by the league to avoid talking about such things.

If there is one, though, Valentine certainly ignored it here, even as he tried not to. He’s one guy who would welcome automated ball-and-strike calls. I bet he won’t be the last.

Phillies to sign Drew Smyly

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Jon Heyman reports that the Phillies are going to sign pitcher Drew Smyly. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philly reported last night that the team and Smyly were chatting.

Smyly opted out of his minor league contract with the Brewers yesterday after allowing seven runs on 10 hits and three walks with 18 strikeouts in 12.2 innings with Triple-A San Antonio and not getting a hint of a call-up to the big club. Earlier this year he pinched off an 8.42 ERA with a 52/34 K/BB ratio in 51.1 innings for the Rangers.

He’s basically a free pitcher for Philly, who could use an arm. If he works out, he works out. If not, no loss. Well, I suppose it’s possible there’d be one loss and some walks and hits in like, four innings, or something, but you know what I mean.