When Fredi Gonzalez got canned yesterday, his defenders pointed out that, hey, the Marlins didn’t exactly stock his bullpen with decent pitchers.
Well, let no man say that Jeff Loria doesn’t listen to the critics! He — or his subordinates — signed a reliever today: Armando Benitez. Who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008 when he put up a 5.68 ERA for the Blue Jays in eight games before being released. He kicked around the Astros’ organization a bit last year but was released by them too. For all we know he’s been hustling pool or teaching gardening classes or something since then.
Why sign Benitez? Best explanation I can come up with is that maybe someone told Loria that it was 2004 or something and he expects to be getting back the guy who saved 47 games? Secondary explanation: maybe he’s secretly trying sabotage games in order to trigger a clause in the stadium lease that would allow him to move to Cleveland!
Either way, Benitez will go to New Orleans, physical willing, to pitch for the AAA club. Don’t be surprised to see him in Miami soon, though, because these games don’t lose themselves.
With Jeff, all things are possible.
Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crew for the World Series. John Hirschbeck is the crew chief. It’s his fifth World Series assignment, third as a crew chief.
A surprising name on the crew is Joe West. It’ll be his sixth World Series overall, but first since 2012. There had been chatter for several years that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series more often while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umpires. Most assumed West’s absence from the Fall Classic in recent years, despite his seniority, was a function of that. Maybe they’re still making merit a priority and maybe West has just improved? I’ll leave that for you to judge.
Anyway, here is the lineup of umps for Game 1. They will rotate after that, of course. If the series goes six games, Cowboy Joe will be calling the balls and strikes:
Home plate: Larry Vanover
1B: Chris Guccione
2B: John Hirschbeck
3B: Marvin Hudson
LF: Tony Randazzo
RF: Joe West
Replay Official for Games 1-2: Sam Holbrook (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)
Replay Official for Games 3-7: Larry Vanover (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)