Data doesn't support Bradley's claims of ump bias

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Last week Milton Bradley complained that his various run-ins with umpires have caused the men in blue to widen their strike zone when he’s at the plate:

Unfortunately, I just think it’s a lot of “Oh, you did this to my
colleague,” or “We’re going to get him any time we can. As soon as he
gets two strikes, we’re going to call whatever and see what he does.
Let’s try to ruin Milton Bradley.” It’s just unfortunate. But I’m going
to come out on top. I always do.

What am I supposed to do? You lead the American League in OPS, and
two years in the top three in the league in on-base percentage. All of
a sudden now, I come to Chicago and I can’t see the ball no more? I
don’t know a strike from a ball? I don’t think I’m doing anything
wrong. There’s a lot involved, and it’s a lot of politics where there’s
nothing you can do about it.

The beauty of being a baseball fan in 2009 is that smart people have
access to the data necessary to actually investigate those types of
claims. Dave Allen of Baseball Analysts did just that, breaking down MLB.com’s PitchF/X data to see whether Bradley’s strike zone has indeed expanded recently.

His lengthy analysis is definitely worth reading, if only for the
cool-looking charts of the strike zone, but the short version is that
“there is no statistical difference between Bradley’s zone this year
and his zone in 2007 and 2008.”

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.