Scouting reports on umpires? Why not?

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Every umpire has a reputation, but some teams aren’t content with simply knowing if a guy is a pitchers’ ump or a hitters’ ump. They’re getting detailed with it

Ron Washington flips the pages of his three-ring notebook, filled
with
inside info on the other team’s pitchers and hitters. The Texas manager gets to the back of the black binder, reaches into
the
pocket and pulls out another scouting report–on that night’s home plate
umpire.

It’s a color-coded computer printout showing his strike zone–how he
tends
to call balls and strikes–and whether he usually gives the pitcher a
break if
the ball sails just off the corner of the plate. In this ump’s case, the
calls
on the edges are too inconsistent to be predictable.

“We do have their tendencies in the dugout on the wall. The name of the
umpire and his tendencies, what they call and what part of the zone they
call
strikes,” Washington said.

Any bit of information helps, I suppose, but at some point you have to wonder if hitters are getting too much information. I mean, between knowing what the pitcher’s tendencies are, how the defense is playing you, what sign you have from the third base coach and then actually, you know, watching the pitch as it comes in, whether the ump likes to call outside breaking balls strikes on 3-2 counts approaches overload, doesn’t it?

Either way, I like the fact that Bobby Cox and the Braves don’t compile these things. Not that it wouldn’t help — God knows the Braves could use help with the zone — but because if they did it, they’d probably all read the same: “Has a short fuse; likes to eject the manager.”  “Gets angry easy; prone to ejecting the manager . . .”

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.