Major League Baseball just announced its umps and, to my surprise, fear and — on some strange level amusement — Cowboy Joe West and his notorious crew get to work the Milwaukee-Arizona series.
The whole crew: West, Ron Kulpa, Alfonso Marquez, Bruce Dreckman, and additions Jeff Kellogg and James Hoye for outfield duty. It’s a way better crew now that Angel Hernandez is off it but, you know, West is still there. And Hernandez still gets to ump in the Cardinals-Phillies series. Oh heck, let’s just look at the rest of them:
- Detroit vs. New York: Gerry Davis, Tony Randazzo, Eric Cooper, Dan Iassogna, Ted Barrett and Bill Welke;
- St. Louis vs. Philadelphia: Jerry Layne, Chris Guccione, Jerry Meals, Angel Hernandez — woot! — Gary Cederstrom and Chad Fairchild. And remember, Meals is the guy who handed the Braves that win in the 19-inning game in Pittsburgh, so that’s a strong crew there, partner.
- Tampa Bay vs. Texas: Dale Scott, Mark Carlson, Kerwin Danley, Greg Gibson, Brian Gorman and Marvin Hudson.
Just remember: being an umpire means never having to say you’re sorry. Unless you’re Jim Joyce, who did say he was sorry. And everyone likes him too. And he doesn’t get to ump in the Division Series, so there’s a lesson in that for you.
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.