Giants sign Wellemeyer to minor-league deal

Leave a comment’s Mychael Urban reports that the Giants have signed Todd Wellemeyer to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.
Wellemeyer was briefly one of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan’s many success stories after being claimed off waivers from the Royals in mid-2007. Purely a reliever at that point, Wellemeyer moved into the Cardinals’ rotation and went 16-10 with a 3.70 ERA in 43 starts through the end of 2008.
Unfortunately his late-career mini-breakout was wrecked by elbow and shoulder problems last season and Wellemeyer went 7-10 with a 5.89 ERA while spending September back in the bullpen. He was initially optimistic about landing a guaranteed deal this offseason, but instead will have to fight for a gig.
The first four spots in San Francisco’s rotation are set in stone with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez, but if healthy Wellemeyer has a chance to claim the fifth spot assuming the Giants prefer to keep stud prospect Madison Bumgarner in the minors a bit longer. A good low-cost pickup for the Giants and a pretty good opportunity for Wellemeyer to get back on track at age 31.

Wild Card, Division series umpires announced

Angel Hernandez
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Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.

Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.

Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:

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Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.