Brian Fuentes: The umpires are scared to make calls in Fenway Park

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Mike Scioscia’s little quip was couched in enough respectful language and humor that he can probably avoid a fine for badmouthing the umps.  Brian Fuentes, however? Not so much:

“Especially here and some other places, they seem timid to make calls. I’ve heard it from other guys that come in here and say that. That’s either because it’s a mistake, or they’re scared.”

I think it’s reasonable to assume that, on occasion, the umpires get caught up in the moment.  They’re human, and it’s understandable that thousands of screaming fans can disrupt one’s judgment on occasion.  I don’t think it’s a situation where the umpires consciously alter their approach for fear of a hostile crowd.  It’s just an environmental thing. I bet they make bad calls when it’s too hot or too cold or the they’re tired or whatever, just like you or I do whenever we’re trying to exercise judgment in sub-optimal conditions.

I don’t buy the “timid” charge, however. If anything, we have crop of umpires these days that err on the side of belligerence as opposed to timidity. There are a lot of guys who want to make themselves part of the game.  A lot of guys who stubbornly adhere to their interpretation of the rules instead of the rules themselves.  If anything, I could see an ump going out of his way to piss off a home crowd before I could see him caving to one.

Of course, you and I can talk about that kind of thing all day if we want.  Brian Fuentes can’t, however, so Fuentes, can probably expect a call from Mr. Watson today.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.