MLB says Questec system vital toward accountability

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

PHOENIX - The Questec tracking system that rankled many players and umpires last season got a strong voice of support from major league officials Thursday.

''This system is absolutely critical to the accountability of umpires to the rulebook's strike zone, and our ability to continue to reshape the strike zone,'' said Sandy Alderson, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations.

Meanwhile, no trades have been made through three days of the general managers' meeting, which wraps up on Friday. Most of the talk has centered on Milwaukee slugger Richie Sexson.

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''I don't know if we can get something done before we leave,'' Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. ''It's getting a little late to do that. Usually the steps are we can do a lot of ground work here. I think there are teams prepared to do something, I'm just not sure it's going to happen.''

Arizona ace Curt Schilling confirmed to The Associated Press that he had agreed to the Diamondbacks' request that he speak to the New York Yankees about a possible trade.

Schilling said that while he also has indicated a willingness to speak to his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, that did not mean those were the only two teams he would consider.

''They were just the only places that have been mentioned,'' Schilling said. ''Don't take it for anything more than that.''

Schilling will earn $12 million, plus $2 million in relatively reachable incentives, in the final year of his contract next season and has a no-trade clause.

He is not insisting on a trade, though, and said it is fine with him if he goes one final season alongside Randy Johnson in Arizona.

''I wish they could re-sign me so I could end my career here,'' Schilling said, ''but they've indicated they aren't going to be able to do that.''

Phillies general manager Ed Wade would not say whether his team would be interested in Schilling, or whether it could afford the 37-year-old right-hander.

Melvin said he has narrowed potential deals to a short list of teams. He spoke at length with Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. again on Thursday.

''It was more exploration of different combinations of things,'' Garagiola said.

Melvin also spoke to San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean. Other teams rumored to have interest in Sexson are Baltimore and Los Angeles.

The Questec system has not resulted in fewer strikes being called by cautious umps who might be tightening the strike zone, Alderson said.

''There were actually more strikes thrown in Questec parks than in non-Questec parks,'' he said. ''Your intuition would tell you that Questec creates a smaller strike zone. The fact is that it's a more consistent strike zone to which apparently pitchers and others adjust.''

Schilling was fined $15,000 for smashing a Questec camera with a bat at Bank One Ballpark - one of 10 major league stadiums that use the system - and Tom Glavine criticized the system.

But Anderson said he had heard no widespread opposition.

''I've heard references to scores of players who object to the system,'' he said. ''That simply isn't true. There may be feelings that have gone unexpressed, but the fact is that the number of people who have publicly objected to the system you can count on one hand.'' is contemplating putting similar systems in every ballpark for commercial purposes, but the official Questec system might remain in only 10 ballparks for the coming season, partly because of a grievance filed by the umpires' union.

Regardless of the number, Questec is working to create a single strike zone throughout baseball, Alderson said.

''There's no question that we no longer subscribe to the notion that every umpire has his own strike zone,'' he said, ''nor do we subscribe to the notion that a star pitcher versus a rookie pitcher deserves different treatment.''