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.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.
The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.
Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.
As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.