Texas bulked up its bullpen at the trade deadline, acquiring Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, and Mike Gonzalez to go alongside Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, and Darren Oliver in what’s now arguably the best, deepest group of relievers in baseball.
However, after dominating with the Orioles for the past one-and-a-half seasons Uehara has been a mess with the Rangers, losing Ron Washington’s confidence and then struggling when asked to get outs in low-leverage situations.
Uehara was fantastic in Baltimore, throwing 91 innings with a 2.27 ERA and ridiculous 117/13 K/BB ratio after moving from the rotation to the bullpen in 2010, but he served up five homers in 18 regular season innings following a July 30 trade to Texas and has allowed a homer in each of his three postseason outings.
“Obviously, Washington gave me three chances to prove myself, but I haven’t been able to produce,” Uehara told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. “I feel badly. I’m struggling right now.”
Part of why I liked the Rangers’ move to pick up Uehara from the Orioles is that he’s signed through next season at a reasonable $4 million salary. That doesn’t sound like such a great thing given his sudden inability to keep the ball in the ballpark and my guess is Uehara won’t get many more chances to turn things around in the playoffs, but he was one of the most effective relievers in baseball for nearly two seasons and he’ll come in handy again next year, particularly if Feliz moves into the rotation.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.