As expected, baseball owners approved expanded instant replay for the 2014 season at the owners meetings today. The vote was unanimous. It now goes to the players union and the umpires union in January. Each of them will have to ratify it then.
In its current form it still employs a manager challenge system. Which, as we’ve argued ad nauseum, is an idiotic way to do do things if the goal is to actually get calls correct as opposed to (a) relieving umpires of the responsibility to get calls right and placing it on managers; and (b) introducing a needless strategic element into the game.
But there’s a twist! When the challenge system was unveiled back in August, managers were allowed one challenge in the first six innings and two more from the seventh through the end of the game. Now managers will get a maximum of two challenges that can be used at any point in the game. This too could change, however, as the league will negotiate further with the umps and players.
Bud Selig, who was long opposed to replay, issued a nice comment about it all after the vote:
“My father always said life is a series of adjustments and I’ve made an adjustment. There isn’t one play or one instance that changed my mind. It has just happened over time. I know we’re doing the right thing.”
It’s nice to see someone in a position of power change their mind about something as opposed to continuing to spend all of their efforts either telling you they’re right or changing their mind while pretending that they really haven’t. Still: wish he’d change his mind about the challenge system.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”