I didn’t even know that the umps’ labor deal was close to expiring. But apparently it is, and apparently they’re about to ink a new one without any NBA-style strife.
The only changes of note: the league wants more flexibility to assign umpires to the playoffs and World Series, moving away from the seniority/carousel system they have in place. This is a good thing because (a) the baseball playoffs are not like preschool and not everyone needs to get a turn; and (b) given how bad the umpiring was in the playoffs this year, the more good umps in, the better. No word on whether or not they’ll actually make the league determine whether the “good” umps they assign will actually be good or, instead, will be guys like Joe West.
Oh, and they bargained away the dental plan, so little Lisa will now have to get the ugly braces that predate stainless steel, so she can’t get them wet.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.