The umps ejected everyone in the Cardinals-Brewers game

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Well, Trevor Hoffman was still around to notch his 600th save and no one  had to forfeit, but a lot of dudes got the hook in last night’s Cardinals-Brewers game:

  • Ken Macha was ejected for arguing when the play was called dead and a run taken off the board after second base umpire Tim Timmons ruled that Craig Counsell slid out of the baseline when trying to break up a double play attempt. Sure looked like the right call to me. Counsell wasn’t anywhere near the bag.
  • The next inning, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan was ejected by home plate umpire Bob Davidson for something he said from the dugout. Presumably Davidson’s strike zone had something to do with it and, yeah, you can’t argue balls and strikes, but this one seemed a bit off to me. Either (a) Duncan said something really, really over the line; or (b) Davidson is way too sensitive to criticism. In an ideal world the umps would tune that stuff out, but I suppose it depends on what Duncan said.
  • Chris Dickerson later got tossed for arguing balls and strikes, though he was on the field at the time — indeed, he was the strikeout victim — so it was a bit more clear cut.
  • Finally, Davidson ejected a fan for heckling Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. The guy was later cited for disorderly conduct, which is often code for “dude, you had too many beers and are acting like an ass.”  I’ve never understood ballpark drunks, by the way. Beer there costs like $8. If you’re hellbent on getting drunk, you can get a six pack of relatively top-end beer for eight bucks and watch the game in your rumpus room.

Also worth noting that the umps reversed a call on a throw to first that, at first blush, appeared to pull Albert Pujols into the baseline. After the conference, the umps ruled that Pujols didn’t interfere and called the runner safe. Again, looked like the right call, and good for the boys in blue (well, black and gray) for conferring and changing the call.

Davidson’s strike zone seemed wonky, and we can quibble over whether umps should eject pitching coaches for complaining from the dugout, but all in all it was a pretty solid effort on the confrontation front from the umps. In a year with so many examples of bad umpire behavior, you have to consider this something of a victory for reasonableness.  

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.