Baseball's ump-overseer is demoted

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MLB logo.jpgJimmy Lee Solomon is MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.  In that capacity he handles on-the-field issues, discipline, security, ballpark issues and stuff like that. Or I should say he was MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and handled on-the-field issues, because according to Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times, Solomon has been “demoted.”

Why? Unknown at the moment, but it’s worth
noting that one of Solomon’s duties is to oversee umpires.  And as we’ve
been following for some time now, the umpires are out of control. Bad
calls and bad attitudes and in need of a good butt-kicking.

Eric Fisher of SportsBusinessJournal doesn’t characterize it as a demotion, but he has more details: Solomon will now be the Executive Vice President for Baseball Development, in which capacity he’ll be overseeing youth academies and things like that. Taking Solomon’s old title will be Kevin McHale (no, not that one), who has been V.P. of Administration.  He’ll only handle part of the job. The umpire oversight and on-field discipline parts of the job will be handled by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who has been a special assistant to Bud Selig for a while now.

Is Solomon getting whacked because of bad umpiring, or is this, as Fisher suggests, an efficiency move?  My sense is the former because it’s coming out so late on a Friday, the traditional dumping-ground of less-than-flattering news.

Updates as we learn more, of course.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.