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People sure love arguing about Major League Baseball’s strike zone. Well, not so much MLB’s strike zone, as the strike zone of individual umpires. Having some kind of pitch tracker on the screen during games hasn’t helped relax fans on what they see as missed calls, and neither has the ability to watch via Gameday or by tracking what’s going on using PITCHf/x. So, MLB is considering making some "formal" changes to the strike zone this offseason, in order to make individual umps have strike zones that look more like what MLB has in the rule book.
At this stage, there’s no word on just what those changes will be, but we know why they want to do it, thanks to Jon Morosi: the technology listed above is out there and is now part of how we watch the game, and MLB wants their umpires to adhere more closely to what everyone else is seeing. This will make a whole bunch of fans happy, but there is another side to a forced change like this, as well: adjusting to an umpire’s specific zone, whether it’s a pitcher or a lineup that does it, is part of the strategy of the game. The human element isn’t inherently a bad thing!
MLB might disagree on that note now, though, which is a bit of a shame. Cries for robot umpires and adherence to a single strike zone are just too loud now, and Rob Manfred seems open to just about anything if enough people are discussing it. We’ll still need umpires to manage to call this stricter zone — and it’s to be seen if there will be actual changes to the zone as well, as have been discussed in the past — but the first step toward strike zone uniformity could come this winter.
- MLB no longer donates the championship gear of the losing World Series team — instead, they destroy it to keep it from reaching the marketplace.
- "Go Cubs Go" entered the Billboard charts for the first time ever, over 30 years after it was first released.
- The Cubs declined Jason Hammel’s option, and might already have a replacement on board in Mike Montgomery. That’d be great for Chicago, considering the state of free agent pitching.
- The Pirates and Nationals discussed a trade of Andrew McCutchen during the summer. Don’t get excited, Nats fans: the trade talks died because of a significant difference in the view of his trade value.
- Speaking of Cutch, Pittsburgh is considering moving him to right field and shifting Starling Marte to center. That’s a bit odd considering McCutchen’s arm isn’t great, but his defense in center cratered last year, too.
- Gary Sanchez has made Brian McCann expendable on the Yankees, and the Astros are interested in taking care of that redundancy.
- The White Sox farm is in a better place than it was even a few years ago, and would align well with a rebuild if Chicago chooses to go that way.
- The Yankees want to build a super bullpen again using all the payroll freed up for this offseason, and Kenley Jansen makes the most sense for them to sign.
- The only person happy with the Orioles’ rotation is Dan Duquette, as he plans on bringing all of it back for 2017.