Joyce blown call

We don’t care about umpire development. We just want the right calls made.

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There was an essay in the New York Times over the weekend about the state of umpiring. The author, Bruce Weber, who wrote a book about umpiring in 2009, says that replay would be bad a thing. Why? Well, human element and Alexander Cartwright and all of that.  What does Weber think is preferable? Better training:

But instead of reducing the role of umpires by expanding replay, why not help them improve?

The way to do this is for baseball to begin thinking of umpires as they do players, as assets to be maximized.

Players, as they develop in the minor leagues, are overseen by major league clubs, but Major League Baseball plays a minimal role in the development of umpires. In fact, the system that feeds umpires to the big leagues is meant to encourage them to quit before they get there.

Weber suggests intensive, year-round training for umpires. Better pay when they’re in the minors. Recruitment of better candidates. Allowing umpires to make “subtle adjustments” in their technique in an effort to do better on close calls, what with how it’s almost impossible, Weber writes, for umps to be in the right position a lot of the time given that players are moving and jumping and that there are so many variables in play.

Interesting ideas, I guess, but at the end of the day I don’t see how any of that is preferable to simply letting a guy look at a screen and say seven words on a walkie talkie down to the field once or twice a game when there’s a close, blown call.

Indeed, the only argument Weber seems to have in opposition to that is that umpires are “part of the fabric of the game.”  While I’m sure they’re a lot of nice umpires who take their craft seriously, the fans simply don’t care. We don’t want them gone — that would be weird — but at the same time, we don’t care about “encouraging them” or what have you. We want the calls right. That’s really the beginning and the end of it.  If we’re going to spend time working on umpires, let’s work on their attitude and demeanor and keep ugly scenes between players and umps from happening.  But as far as a the calls are concerned, let the umpires continue to make them all. Just let someone with a better, video-enhanced view correct the small handful of mistakes that happen during a game.

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.