Atrocious umpiring not a factor as Yanks stomp Angels

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At least some brought their A games to the park on Tuesday. The Halos certainly didn’t live up to their logos, and the boys in blue continued to build the case for why instant replay needs to be greatly expanded in baseball.
Since it turned into a rout, CC Sabathia will be the story, and deservedly so. On three days’ rest, the big left-hander silenced anyone still questioning his postseason record with eight innings of one-run ball. He improved to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.19.
Had the game remained close, then the umpires would have faced their greatest scrutiny yet. Tim McClelland, widely revered as the game’s best, horribly botched two plays at third, making it obvious in the process that he wasn’t even paying attention to the game in front of him.
In the fourth, second-base umpire Dale Scott missed a clear pickoff at second base. That was the play that led to McClelland’s first error. Nick Swisher should have been called out after straying from the bag, but Scott ruled him safe following the pickoff throw. He went on to advance to third and seemingly score on a sac fly, but McClelland, who never looked to see where Swisher was, said Swisher left too early and called him out, though replay showed he didn’t. It wasn’t even particularly close.
At least that was righting a wrong. McClelland’s call in the fifth suggested that his head was a long way from Anaheim. Swisher hit a comebacker to Darren Oliver with Jorge Posada on third and Robinson Cano on second. Oliver threw home, and catcher Mike Napoli snatched the ball and ran Posada back to third. Cano, meanwhile, had run almost all of the way to third, only to stop a foot in front of the bag. Posada returned to third, but overran the base, allowing Napoli to tag both players while neither was on the bag. Bizarrely, McClelland only gave the Angels the one out. Fortunately, the Angels did get out of the inning without further damage.
So, the score will overshadow the bad umpiring and some poor managing from Mike Scioscia, who decided against pulling an ineffective Scott Kazmir to start the fifth and never went to Ervin Santana until it was 5-1. It didn’t matter, since the Angels couldn’t get anything going against Sabathia and they again failed to stop Alex Rodriguez, who went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and three-run scored.
Now comes the unnecessary day off before a must-win Game 5 for the Angels. A.J. Burnett and John Lackey will pitch. With Lackey comes his personal catcher, Jeff Mathis, and that the Angels are facing a right-hander means that Maicer Izturis is due to start at second over Howie Kendrick. However, Scioscia better have some sort of new plan in store, because a weaker lineup is hardly what the Angels need right now.
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Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.