Sox-Angels ump admits to being fooled; poor judgment; and making makeup calls

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Yesterday we debated whether or not umpires react to crowd noise and stuff like that. Today comes evidence that other subjective factors color their calls as well:


Umpire
Rick Reed acknowledged Thursday that his ball-four call on a
ninth-inning pitch by Angels closer Brian Fuentes to Nick Green on
Wednesday night “very well could have been a strike” . . . Reed said that on that final pitch to Green, Mike Napoli’s actions led
him to call it a ball after the Angels catcher tried to frame the
knee-high pitch . . . “The catcher did a nice job of bringing it up,
and that was a telling blow. If a catcher moves his glove, it’s to
improve the pitch.”

Anyone who has watched a lot of baseball knows this on some level, but it is odd to hear an umpire acknowledge that the catcher’s framing of the pitch and body language actually influences the call so directly.  Here’s some more evidence that the old conventional wisdom regarding umpires is true:

“I called a [strike] earlier in the game that I thought was low, and I
said, ‘I’m not going to let that happen again.’ I wish they were all
waist-high. They’d be a lot easier to judge.”

The old makeup call. Something umps — and football refs — claim never occurs. Again, we all knew it, but it’s quite a thing to hear an umpire admit it.

The Pirates are, not surprisingly, leaning against trading Andrew McCutchen

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Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.

Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.

All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:

That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.

The Brewers are talking to the Tigers about Ian Kinsler, Justin Wilson

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The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.

Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.

Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.

The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.