In need of starting pitching, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have had “recent, active dialogue” with free agent pitchers Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, and Ubaldo Jimenez. Of the three, Santana and Jimenez would both require the Orioles to give up their #17 pick in the first round of the 2014 draft; Arroyo would not.
The pitching market had drawn to a halt as teams were waiting to see where they and others stood in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. Now that the right-hander has signed a seven-year, $155 million deal, the remaining pitchers on the market are expected to find homes soon as we are about three weeks away from the start of spring training, when pitchers and catchers report in for their respective clubs.
The Orioles have had a tough off-season signing free agents, botching two deals: one with free agent reliever Grant Balfour, and another more recently with outfielder Tyler Colvin. Let’s hope their pursuit of a starter goes a little more smoothly.
Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.
Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.
Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:
I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.
First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:
+10 Blue Jays
The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.
Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:
Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.