Thursday, May 26, 2011

Giants: MLB's Rule Maker

I am just overwhelmed by Buster Posey's probable season ending injury (fractured fibula and other assorted ligament damage that are more problematic), and wonder when baseball will come to their senses.  Unfortunately, it might take Giants' fans' pain again for MLB's gain.  I've been complaining about this for almost 40 years (not all of it blogging :^), but there should be a rule about taking out catchers at home plate.

I can still remember when I first thought this: seeing Pete Rose take out Ray Fosse at home plate in the All Star Game, around 40 years ago.  It ruined Ray Fosse's career, at least in term of what his peak season would have been, and the irony was that the two of them shared dinner the night before.  I just couldn't understand why the rules would allow that, and I am for Pete Rose being in the Hall of Fame.  Still, that was just not right.

I know some people say it is just a part of the game.  And I understand that, I just looked at the replay, that is just part of the game the way it is now.  The unfortunate thing is that Posey was in an awkward position trying to field the ball, and as far as the runner knew, Posey was fielding the catch and trying to tag him.  But it is like the play where the QB's leg is crushed when the rusher catches him the wrong way, at the wrong angle:  you can see Posey's leg twist ugly like that QB and you just know it was bad.  

There was no way the runner could know that Posey did not have the ball.  He made the decision to nail Buster rounding third, particularly with all the recent news of Schierholtz termiNating runners at bases.  But with a clear lane to the plate, if there were rules about this, he wouldn't have made that choice, he would have just headed to home plate, and if there is a collision, so be it, you can't legislate every risk of injury away.

As far as I know, runners aren't allow to run into the firstbaseman, secondbaseman, shortstop, or thirdbaseman to jar the ball loose.  At least any more, there used to be more danger for infielders long ago, and the MLB rightfully changed the rules to protect the fielders better.  Yet the MLB allows open season on the catcher like this, which is not allowed in any level of amateur baseball.  How many more Rookies of the Year, rising stars will the MLB lose before they try to do something about this?  

They have changed the rules over the years to right wrongs and the Giants have been a part of that in recent years.  After the 1993 seasons where the Giants won 103 games and didn't make the playoffs, the MLB changed the rules to allow the best team not a division winner to make the playoffs as a wildcard.  After the 1997 season when the Giants, one of the best teams in baseball, got pushed out of the playoffs in a short 5-games series, they moved to correct it by making it a 7-game series.  Now, if they change the rules because of this, this will be another case of the Giant's pains being the MLB's gain.

Giants Thoughts

The Giants were already in need of hitting the DL already, with Darren Ford and Mike Fontenot hurting from recent injuries themselves.  They announced the call ups of Brandon Belt (taking Ford's spot), Chris Stewart (catcher to replace Posey), and Brandon Crawford (SS/MI to replace Fontenot).  To clear space on the 40-man roster for Stewart and Crawford, the Giants DFAed Henry Sosa (former top pitching prospect who stalled in the upper levels) and Ryan Rohlinger (he was being groomed for future MI role but hasn't been hitting in AAA this season).  

Judging by today's lineup - Burriss at SS - I expect him to get first dibs on the starting SS position and his hot hitting up to now probably helped earned him that spot.  It sounds like Belt will be playing in the outfield (Larry Baer just said on KNBR that Huff is staying at 1B), but given that Cody Ross, Andres Torres, and Nate Schierholtz are our top 3 hitters for the month of May as of yesterday's game in terms of OPS, I have to think that the current mix and match tactic will continue.  

Not really a platoon, though Ross is not that great a hitter against RHP, but I don't think Bochy will sit him against all RHP either.  It does not sound like Aubrey Huff is going to play any games in the OF, so it would be my guess that he will be sitting against certain (but not all) LHP, particularly since he has not really heated up yet, allowing Belt to take games at 1B (though he is a lefty too, but the Giants have previously said that he's not up here to sit, so I assume that will hold now as well, as he reportedly fixed whatever problem he had earlier).

I hope Belt did fix his problem, but given all the strikeouts he's piling up in AAA, I don't see how he don't strike out a lot up here still.  And if he can't hit homers in AAA, how is he going to do it in the majors?  So I'm wishing for the best, but cognizant that he might get sent back down when Sandoval is ready to come back up.

I think the Giants are just in survival mode offensively until Sandoval returns off the DL.  WIth him, we would have a legit middle lineup threat and that might make it easier for the hitters around him to get pitches they like.  And we have the pitching to survive the next two weeks with a .500 record, that should be more than good enough to survive.

Meanwhile, Whiteside and Stewart will probably share the catching duties, Burriss will start at SS, Crawford will get occasional starts at 2B, 3B, and SS, and as noted Huff will be at 1B, except the days when Belt is not playing LF, and Torres, Ross, Schierholtz will be sharing CF and RF, except when Belt is playing 1B.  Burrell will be the PH.

GO Giants!

4 comments:

  1. Forgot to note that rumor is that the Giants spoke to the Nats about Ivan Rodriguez.

    Baggarly also noted that he spoke with Bengie Molina, who said he would be willing to sign, go to the minors to get in shape, then return to start for the Giants. I just don't think that would happen, unless Sabean turns his cheek a LOT because Molina called him a liar last season, after learning that Sabean signed him with the intention of trading him mid-season.

    He called him a liar, but he ended up playing on the two teams that made it to the World Series, which might be a first, or at least an extreme rarity, got some nice rings and the extra money from the playoffs has got to more than make up the $500K more he would have gotten from the Mets, plus he would have been stuck with the losing Mets then probably traded to the D-gers (instead, the Mets traded Barraga, the guy they signed instead of Molina).

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  2. Good stuff! Except, Cousins wasn't rounding 3rd, he was tagging up.

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  3. Sorry and thank you, yes, he was tagging up. Makes his decision that much more stupid in my mind, yet baseball accepts, allows, and condones this stupidity.

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  4. I'd take Pudge over Molina... too much water under the bridge, you're right. And as a (granted, backup) catcher Whiteside isn't that bad.

    Have thought about this a lot, and while absolutely of course my first thought was sympathy for Posey, I tend to be conservative about changes in the game.

    But, it seems as if the catcher cannot block the plate unless he has the ball, then the rules even as they stand should say 1)if the catcher doesn't have the ball, the runner's safe by the rules 2)if the catcher is not blocking the plate, ball or not, the runner is out if he plows into the catcher, by the rules, i.e. he's out of the baseline, or, able to touch the plate.

    I'm too squeamish to view any footage of what happened to Buster, so I don't know if this applies, but it seems like enforcement of the rules already in place needs to happen. You're right in that the runner can't "know", but you are also right that you can't base the rules on whether someone "knows" something or not - I can't think of another situation where that applies, intent. In scoring, I suppose, but this is not scoring, this is safe/out.

    Assuming I'm getting this right, simply enforcing the 1 & 2 above would be a massive deterrent. It won't omit the problem, but blocking the plate or running into the catcher as a matter of course would be greatly reduced, as there would be a penalty for misjudgment.

    My real emotion is "this sucks, a lot" though.

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