Super bowl? What super bowl? It’s back to baseball, with just one week until pitchers and catchers report. Here’s the latest:
Dave Church at Baseball Prospectus touched in on recent Blue Jay acquisitions, comparing them to similar pitchers from last season. Church compares J.P. Howell to Brett Cecil and Joe Smith to Drew Storen/Joaquin Benoit, and, as he writes, “the numbers suggest this should work fine for the Jays, [but] there’s no certainty with relievers.”
One aspect of this piece that made me happy was Church’s mention of Toronto’s offseason strategy. It appears to be consistent for relievers so far, which is quite... well.. relieving.
ESPN senior writer Jayson Stark first reported yesterday that Major League Baseball has proposed “pace of action” regulations to the players union, including raising the strike zone and giving managers the ability to signal for an intentional walk (instead of throwing four balls). By making the strike zone smaller, Major League Baseball is making the game more exciting, as more balls will be put in play. Eliminating the long process for intentional walks may shorten games, but, as Stark notes, there were only 932 intentional walks in all of baseball last season (one every 2.6 games).
Personally, I like these suggestions. The suggested moves are not as dramatic as including a pitch clock, and seem like the obvious steps forward. Already, umpires regularly call pitches far below the zone as strikes, and enforcing a new top-of-the-knee rule would increase offense. Additionally, the practice of purposely lobbing four balls outside the strike zone seems now outdated and an easy way to improve the pace of the game.
The Blue Jays’ deal with Jarrod Saltalamacchia is now official, as the team announced yesterday afternoon. Saltalamacchia, Toronto’s answer to needs of a backup catcher, had reportedly signed north of the border on January 24th, following a brief trail of crumbs from Shi Davidi. This tweet from Toronto’s twitter account confirms that the deal is indeed a minor league transaction and includes an invite to Spring Training.