Umpire admits bad call, Joe Girardi calls for more replay

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Umpire Jeff Nelson admitted after Sunday’s game that he botched the call at second base that aided the Tigers in a two-run eighth inning against the Yankees.

Omar Infante was attempting to return to the bag after rounding second on a single, but he was clearly tagged out by Robinson Cano on the play. Nelson called him safe.

“The hand did not get in before the tag, the call was incorrect,” he said. “I had the tag late and the hand going into the bag before the tag on the chest.”

It should have been the third out of the inning, but the Tigers went on to score two runs afterwards.

“Yeah, he was out by I would say five feet,” Cano said. “It is tough, because if it was the right call, it would be 1-0 instead of 3-0.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was ejected after arguing the call during a pitching change, dedicated a significant portion of his postgame press conference to stumping for replay.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with Jeff’s effort, I don’t, because he hustled to get to the play. But in this day and age when we have instant replay available to us, it’s got to change. These guys are under tremendous amounts of pressure.

“It is a tough call for him, because the tag is underneath and it’s hard for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than you get the call right. Too much is at stake. We play 235 days to get to this point, and two calls go against us. We lose it by one run last night.”

Girardi was referring to another poor call on a ball that Robinson Cano beat out in the Game 1 loss. Whether it would have made a difference or not, it definitely stings with the Yankees down two games to none as they head to Detroit for Tuesday’s Game 3.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.