Giants

Buster Posey explains why robot umps could call more balls than strike

Buster Posey explains why robot umps could call more balls than strike

Robot umps.

Weird thought, right? 

But it's something being implemented and tested in the baseball world. The independent Atlantic League was the first victim to test the newest technology that includes a real-life umpire still manning his or her duties behind the plate while they wear an earpiece connected to an iPhone. That person would then relay the call from the TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar.

That's at least how plate umpire Brian deBrauwere executed it back in July as he described it to ESPN. And Giants catcher Buster Posey isn't too sure about this new technology, specifically if these robot umps would call more balls or strikes.

"I would venture to say that more pitches would be called balls that are called strikes now," Posey told The Athletic's Jayson Stark.

The human element or emotions would no longer exist -- that's the main factor here. Stark says some of the calls catchers are used to getting "would disappear with an electronic zone."

Not all pitches are created equal which means the calls, no matter how consistent they are, won't always be accurate in the types of pitches. 

Stark also added that Posey's right, but only to a point.

Once again ... emotions.

James Skelton, now pitching in the Atlantic League, has seen this firsthand. He said pitchers could be frustrated as well -- especially those veteran players who typically get said calls. Because of the specifics of this robotic umpire.

A portion of the baseball will have to cross over the 17-inch span from one side of the plate to the other.

"Period," Stark wrote.

That means the high and low areas of the strike zone may not matter as much. Pitchers, who typically love the fact that this zone is opened up, are amazed how much the zone feels with that extra space up top and on the bottom.

But other pitchers don't agree with Posey's thoughts. Mitch Atkins has pitched in the bigs before, but even with the Atlantic League, he said he would accept any strikes he was given. He doesn't feel the system would give more balls than strikes.

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It just goes to show without the human element, it could make a huge difference.

Whether that's for better or worse remains to be seen.

MLB rumors: Giants to hire Reds' Donnie Ecker as new hitting coach

MLB rumors: Giants to hire Reds' Donnie Ecker as new hitting coach

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are hoping to see a youth movement in their lineup over the next couple of seasons. They're apparently going with the same approach on their coaching staff. 

Cincinnati Reds assistant hitting coach Donnie Ecker will be named the Giants' hitting coach, according to Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic. The Giants did not immediately confirm the hire. They are expected to announce their staff next week at the Winter Meetings. Ecker, 33, is just five years removed from being the baseball coach at Los Altos High, his alma mater. 

The Giants have spent the last month putting Gabe Kapler's staff in place, and they have not looked in traditional corners. They have worked to surround Kapler with coaches who take a more modern approach and can help develop the next Giants contender, and Ecker certainly qualifies as an interesting hire. 

Ecker spent just one season as assistant hitting coach in Cincinnati. In 2018 he was the Triple-A hitting coach for the Angels, and before that, he coached in the minors for the Cardinals for three seasons. Ecker's coaching career began in 2013 when he took a job at Los Altos High, where he was a two-sport star in baseball and football. Ecker was a 22nd-round pick of the Rangers in 2007 but got just 97 minor league at-bats. 

Ecker certainly is a bit of an out-of-the-box hire, but that might be just what the Giants need after years of struggling to put together a lineup that can hit at Oracle Park. Ecker's bio with the Reds stated that "his teaching methods incorporate human movement research and technology-based applications to the body and swing." He is described as someone who is an "integrated movement specialist."

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Once confirmed, Ecker will join third base coach Ron Wotus as members of Kapler's staff. The Giants also have hired Brian Bannister as Director of Pitching but it's unclear if that role will have him in the dugout. 

MLB rumors: Giants targeted Georgia's Sean Kenny as next pitching coach

MLB rumors: Giants targeted Georgia's Sean Kenny as next pitching coach

The Giants' coaching staff under manager Gabe Kapler is starting to take shape. 

The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly reported Sunday that San Francisco was in negotiations with Indians defensive coordinator Kai Correa, and sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic on Wednesday that Brian Bannister, a former big leaguer who spent the previous five seasons with the Red Sox, will join the Giants as their director of pitching

Speaking of pitching, the Giants appear to be on the hunt for a new pitching coach. And their search seems far and wide. 

D1Baseball's Kendall Rogers reported Wednesday that the Giants targeted the University of Georgia's pitching coach Sean Kenny for the same role in the big leagues. But, UGA made sure Kenny stayed in Athens. 

Kendall says the Giants have looked at several candidates from college and the pros, and Kenny looks like a prime coach on the rise. The former 17th-round pick of the Mets became Georgia's pitching coach before the 2018 season and instantly made a huge impact. 

Georgia's pitching staff lowered its team ERA 1.05 points to 3.97 in Kenny's first year on the job, and set a school record with a .236 opponent's batting average. That number dropped to a lowly .200 last season, as UGA's ERA fell to 3.24 while setting a school record with 601 strikeouts. 

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The Giants haven't formally announced that Curt Young will not return for a third season as their pitching coach, but it was expected that Kapler would bring in several new coaches. The only known coach to come back next season is Ron Wotus, who will be in his 33rd year with the Giants organization.

Bench coach Hensley Meulens has joined the Mets, and hitting coach Alonzo Powell accepted a job in Japan in the same role.