MLB needs to discipline some umpires. Now.

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Lost in the two straight dramatic wins that have the Rockies within spittin’ distance of first place is a bizarre series of exchanges from Monday’s game that, according to the Denver Post, is likely going to get some umpires disciplined:

Several Rockies alleged after Monday’s
dramatic, 14th-inning 6-4 victory that second-base umpire Bill Miller
called catcher Yorvit Torrealba a derogatory name while the catcher was
a baserunner late in the game . . .
Tensions began to escalate because,
Torrealba said, Miller insulted him, saying that he was out of line by
showing up Campos during the game with his body language on
questionable calls against Rockies pitchers. A witness to the incident
said that Miller referred to his own experience as an umpire in
explaining why he had the right to criticize Torrealba’s actions,
though he wasn’t working the plate.

As that was going on, Rockies’ reliever Huston Street started jawing at first base umpire Jim Joyce, telling him that he needed to get Miller to lay off of Torrealba. Instead, Joyce came to the dugout and got into it with Street. After the game, during the celebration after Spilborghs’ homer, Torrelaba apparently had some nasty words with Campos and/or Miller.

Bob Watson is looking into it all, and if the Post’s story is accurate, there had better be some discipline against the umps.  This has been a pretty bad year for umpire behavior, and at some point baseball needs to send a message to them that they need to rise above whatever petty baloney they feel the players and managers are doing during a game and do their job.

If I was in charge of umpires I’d order them not to even argue back during heated exchanges because nothing looks sillier than a manager ranting and raving to a stone faced ump. Going way beyond that and actually calling out players during a game for what they perceive to be disrespect is utterly unacceptable.

In order to legitimize their authority, umps need to take the high road.  It seems that the only way they’ll be inspired to do that is for Bob Watson to knock them down a few pegs.  Watson and baseball has been loathe to do that when necessary, but they desperately need to do it now.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.