MLB to changeup umpire assignments for the World Series

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Baseball has seen enough bad calls and is changing the way it assigns umpires for the World Series:

Stung by a rash of blown calls in the playoffs, Major League
Baseball is breaking tradition and sticking with only experienced
umpires for the World Series.

Longtime crew chiefs Joe West, Dana DeMuth and Gerry Davis, along
with Brian Gorman, Jeff Nelson and Mike Everitt will handle the games,
three people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press
this week . . . In 24 of the last 25 World Series, the six-man crew has included at
least one umpire working the event for the first time–baseball likes to
reward newer umpires, plus replenish the supply of umps with Series
experience.

Not that this is a guarantee of anything better than what we’ve seen. An experienced umpire does not necessarily make for a good umpire.  Joe West has been around forever, and for as long as he’s been around, people have complained about him. And he doesn’t take well to complaints: back in 1984 West actually ejected two SportsChannel cameramen when they allowed Mets players and coaches to see replays of a call he blew. And let us not forget that our friend Tim McClelland has been around for over 25 years, and he still made those awful calls at third base on Tuesday night.

But at least it’s something.  Not as good as, say, the limited introduction of replay or — an idea I heard someone suggest yesterday which may be better — simply stationing an umpire in the press box, giving him access to video and a headset and allowing him to serve as a overruling authority in the event something clearly gets blown on the field.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.