The awful umpiring during the
postseason has been discussed ad nauseam here, most recently during the
World Series, with a curious double play call in Game 1 and a missed
double play call in Game 2. So, who’s the biggest culprit for the added
scrutiny? Technology, says Joe Lemire of SI.com:
It’s hard to quantify umpiring errors for comparisons with other
postseasons, but there’s no question that this intense focus on the men
in blue is a creation of television. At the ballpark itself, MLB policy
prohibits any obvious umpiring mistake from being shown on the video
Mistakes are simply disseminated quicker and farther. The live TV
audience is higher — and not shrinking because of the umpiring
blunders, either, as Fox’s World Series Game 2 ratings were 44 percent
better than the same game last year. There’s a larger press corps at
each playoff game, and the Internet transmits their words instantly.
Video clips are easily accessible online.
Fox is using 20
TV cameras for each playoff game it broadcasts, the same as it used
last year, but that’s still twice as many as most networks use in the
Lemire is painting the umpiring
problems with a broad brush here. We might not like it, but most of us
can accept a missed call at first base here or there. It happens in
baseball. But when umpires make egregious mistakes like Phil Cuzzi in
Game 2 of the ALDS or Tim McLelland in Game 4 of the ALCS, it becomes
very difficult to blame technology.
If anything, increased technology
and scrutiny from expanded replay could enhance the game in half the
time, saving us from unnecessary umpire huddles with inexact resolutions. If only Bud Selig would agree.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.