This is cool: the MLBPA is trying to organize a meeting between the players, the umps and the Commissioner’s Office to discuss the state of umpiring:
What the players would like to address, two player representatives said,
is the growing concern among players about poor communication with
umpires and what players see as a failure of accountability and
transparency in the grading and evaluation of umpires. Oakland Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler,
the team’s player rep, said that because disciplinary action of umps
isn’t made public, a distrust often exists among some players . . .
. . . It’d be nice if they were rated and those who didn’t pass, they get a week vacation, they get sent down,” said Jimmy Rollins,
the Phillies’ player rep. “It’s not that they’re trying to be bad. Some
players just can’t make it; some umpires just can’t make it. That’s
just the way it is. As long as they don’t have to answer to anybody and
they have that job security, that pressure of having to be good to stay
here — they don’t have to worry about that.”
This is so manifestly reasonable that you know damn well it will never happen. The umpires believe that there’s nothing wrong and how dare they be questioned. The Commissioner’s Office has shown time and again that they have no interest whatsoever in making sure the right calls are made, that umpires are appropriately disciplined or that, when they are, anyone knows about it so as to instill confidence in their supervision. Having some sort of sit-down is a great idea by the union. So I fully expect it to go nowhere.
Beyond the idea of the meeting, by all means, read the rest of the story. Amy Nelson of ESPN got Jimmy Rollins to say an awful lot about the state of umpire-player relations these days, and it’s great stuff. Rollins pretty much nails the state-of-play with respect to the umpires’ increasingly hostile demeanor towards players and managers.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.