Former MLB VP of umpiring rips Bobby Valentine but sounds kinda insane himself

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Bobby Valentine went on the other day about how umpires can’t get ball and strike calls right and suggested that maybe it’s time for the robots to take over. He was particularly mad at Alan Porter, the ump from Sunday’s Nats-Red Sox game.

Today former MLB VP in charge of umpiring Mike Port blasted Valentine, saying that he was blaming the umps for his team’s poor performance:

Is Bobby Valentine whining too much about the umpires?

“Yes. Precisely. I would admit my bias only knowing what I do about umpiring. Bobby’s a good baseball man and he knows the game well and he’s a good manager, but I think we all at one time or another fall prey to looking for others. It’s almost a societal thing — who can we blame? I can promise you that those in the military who are successful in their endeavors don’t go that way. They go on a no excuses basis. When I saw Bobby’s comments about the game Sunday, June 10th and the umpiring, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t that the game where the Red Sox surrendered a two run lead? Where one player misplayed a ball allowing a run to score? Where they had another player strike out four times and ultimately where they couldn’t score more runs than the opposition. Were all of those guys named Alan Porter?

Kind of a sick burn, I’ll give him that. But it doesn’t change the fact that umpiring could stand to be improved. And Port sounds both retrograde and crazy when he was asked about whether the technology exists that could get the calls correct.

In response to automated ball and strike calls he asks says “perhaps we could go to the robot hitter and the robot pitcher …”  In response to a question about putting chips in balls to allow them to transmit whether they are fair or foul, he suggests that its possible for the home team to jam the freaking signals. Or for home team broadcast trucks to purposefully avoid getting shots of plays that could, on replay, disadvantage the home team.

So, sure, maybe Port is right about Valentine. But he also sounds like a guy who is predisposed to make whatever insane defense of human umpires he can think of if it means not changing the world with which he is familiar.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.