Tigers manager Jim Leyland was ejected from Monday’s game after two innings following a bad call in Boston’s three-run bottom of the second.
With a man on second and two outs, Mike Aviles swung and tipped what appeared to be strike three, ending the inning. However, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson couldn’t tell if catcher Gerald Laird caught the ball and looked to first base ump Bill Welke for help. Welke ruled that the ball hit the ground, extending the at-bat. Replays showed that it was a clean catch by Laird, though.
Aviles went on to single, the first of three straight run-scoring hits for Boston that gave the team a 4-1 lead against Doug Fister.
After the inning concluded, Jim Leyland came out to state his case about the ball, likely arguing that Welke at least should have had the ball checked for dirt. When Leyland, Laird and bench coach Gene Lamont continued to argue from the dugout as the third was set to begin, Leyland and Lamont were both ejected, leading to another lengthy Leyland argument on the field.
Of course, we’re always told that instant replay would lengthen games. However, it would have taken about two seconds to identify that this pitch never hit the ground and might have shortened this game by a full 15 minutes, considering that the ensuing rally and Leyland’s argument wouldn’t have taken place.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.