Schneider jumps from Mets to hometown Phillies

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Brian Schneider has been a starter for basically his entire career, but the 33-year-old catcher will now back up Carlos Ruiz after signing a two-year contract with the Phillies this afternoon.
While one Philadelphia newspaper suggests that Schneider passed up a chance to start for several other teams in order to join his hometown Phillies, that seems fairly unlikely. Instead, my guess is that the best he could do elsewhere was a promise that he’d compete for a starting job with a younger catcher and rather than do that for a lesser team he decided to join the back-to-back NL champs and the team he grew up rooting for.
After all, Ruiz has started 100, 92, and 100 games in the past three seasons, is coming off a career-best .255/.355/.425 performance in the regular season, and batted .341 in the playoffs, so the Phillies probably aren’t looking to reduce his role. Instead, expect the left-handed-hitting Schneider to draw 40-50 starts while primarily giving the right-handed-hitting Ruiz breaks against tougher right-handed pitchers. It should be an effective quasi-platoon.
Philadelphia definitely didn’t need a veteran backup like Schneider, but the Phillies are strong enough up and down the roster that tinkering at the margins while paying a premium for depth makes sense. Meanwhile, the Mets never had any intention of re-signing Schneider and interestingly are close to signing Chris Coste, who spent most of the past four seasons backing up Ruiz for the Phillies. Musical catchers. New York is also said to be in the mix for Henry Blanco, and still has Omar Santos and Josh Thole as in-house options.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?