In what should come as a surprise to no one, baseball’s umpires have become the story here in the first few games of the 2010 postseason.
The umps blew a call in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s ALDS Game 1 between the Yankees and Twins, ruling a perfectly good catch by Yanks outfielder Greg Golson a “trap.” Then a blown check-swing call in this afternoon’s ALDS Game 2 between the Rangers and Rays led to a Michael Young three-run homer. Young should have been out, but was given another hack and changed the outcome of the game with a towering shot to center field.
Now the boys in blue are playing a factor in tonight’s ALDS Game 2 in Minnesota. Yankees designated hitter Lance Berkman should have been called out in the seventh inning on a Carl Pavano pitch that hugged the inside corner of the strike zone, but home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called the pitch a ball and Berkman launched a run-scoring double moments later.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire argued Wendelstedt’s mistake while making a visit to the mound and was quickly thrown out. The Twins trail the Yanks 4-2 as this Game 2 tilt heads to the final few frames.
A replay system for ball and strike calls won’t work, and should never be implemented, but it’s past time to explore an expanded strategy for other on-field calls. This
isn’t about trashing the umps — they do the best they can. This is about getting the calls correct.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.