Daily Dose: Back scratches Lincecum

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Tim Lincecum was a last-minute scratch from his Tuesday night start with back pain, so the Giants called up top prospect Madison Bumgarner from Double-A to take his place versus the Padres. Bumgarner was a teenager until last month, but the former first-round pick was 9-1 with a 1.93 ERA at Double-A and handled himself pretty well against the NL’s lowest-scoring team, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings.
Bumgarner’s numbers as a pro as insanely good, with a 27-5 record and 1.65 ERA, but his 69/30 K/BB ratio in 107 innings at Double-A suggest that he’s not quite ready to dominate. He’s without question one of the top pitching prospects in baseball and the Giants obviously believed that he was ready for the challenge Tuesday night, but don’t count on the young southpaw being a fantasy asset until at least mid-2010.
While the Giants unveil their next stud starter and pray that Lincecum’s injury proves minor, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Charlie Manuel reiterated Tuesday afternoon that Brad Lidge will remain his closer despite an MLB-high 10 blown saves. And then Tuesday night he pulled Lidge in the middle of a save situation and brought in Ryan Madson to close out a 5-3 win. Lidge allowed a single and a walk, plunked a batter, and uncorked a wild pitch while getting just one out, at which point Madson got the call and cleaned up his mess.
* After sitting out since mid-June with a knee injury Carlos Beltran returned from the disabled list Tuesday and went 1-for-4 while narrowly missing a grand slam. Beltran deserves credit for working hard to make his way back for the final four weeks of the season despite the fact that his team is completely out of contention after going just 27-42 in his absence. If he looks healthy, Beltran should be undervalued for 2010.
* Alex Gordon returned to the majors Tuesday after batting .313/.435/.493 during his three-week demotion to Triple-A, which despite Kansas City’s claim that suppressing his service time wasn’t a factor was just long enough to delay his free agency for an extra year. Gordon is now under the Royals’ control through at least 2013, although he’ll need to turn things around to be of any use by then. He’s a nice buy-low target.
* Rotoworld’s whole baseball crew is now on Twitter, from Matthew Pouliot’s frequent updates during each night’s games to my mindless babble about things that have no fantasy baseball relevance whatsoever, so check us out:
Aaron Gleeman – @aarongleeman
Matthew Pouliot – @matthewpouliot
Drew Silva – @drewsilv
D.J. Short – @djshort
Nick Nelson – @nnelson9
Eddie Schmid – @edwinthethird
Thor Nystrom – @thorku
Evan Brunell – @immortalkid
Our current goal is to collectively get more followers than Gregg Rosenthal, because his incessant bragging around the office is becoming tough to take.
AL Quick Hits: Michael Young (hamstring) is hoping to rejoin the lineup by the end of the week after jogging Tuesday … Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) is due to make his final rehab start Wednesday at Single-A … Julio Borbon smacked a pair of homers Tuesday and also swiped his 13th base … Joe Crede (back) came off the disabled list Tuesday and should be the primary third baseman down the stretch … Fernando Rodney appealed his three-game suspension for throwing a ball into the press box last week … Jake Peavy (elbow) will toss a bullpen session Wednesday with an eye on joining the White Sox’s rotation next week … Wade Davis will stick in the rotation following an impressive debut, bumping Andy Sonnanstine … Dustin Pedroia had his first career multi-homer game Tuesday … Carlos Carrasco struggled again Tuesday, giving him a 12.38 ERA through two career starts … Francisco Liriano (elbow) threw a simulated game Tuesday and reported no problems, setting up a bullpen move.
NL Quick Hits: J.A. Happ will miss a second start because of his strained oblique, so Jamie Moyer will again fill in … Manny Parra left Tuesday’s start after just one inning because of neck spasms … Casey Blake (hamstring) sat out his fourth straight game Tuesday, with Ronnie Belliard starting at third base … Garrett Jones homered again Tuesday, giving the career minor leaguer 19 long balls in 235 at-bats … Corey Hart (appendicitis) returned from the disabled list Tuesday, but won’t rejoin the lineup until Wednesday … Fredi Gonzalez indicated Tuesday that Jeremy Hermida (oblique) is not expected back any time soon … Colby Rasmus sat out Tuesday’s game with the heel injury that has plagued him all season … Ken Macha said Tuesday that Casey McGehee will play more down the stretch than Mat Gamel … Raul Ibanez went deep twice Tuesday, totaling 30 homers for the second time … Reed Johnson (foot) is not expected to play again this year.

Joe West explains the fan interference call he clearly blew

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One of the biggest plays in a game full of big plays in last night’s Red Sox-Astros game was the call of fan interference that took a home run away from Jose Altuve.

Well, actually, it didn’t technically take a home run away, because right field umpire Joe West never called it a home run to begin with. He called it, sorta, tentatively, fan interference and it was thrown in the lap of replay officials.

For my part — and, it seems to me, for the part of most folks watching the game — West blew the call. The fan in question did not reach out onto the field of play — Mookie Betts‘ glove entered the stands — and the rules clearly state that no interference is called if a spectator comes in contact with a batted or thrown ball without reaching onto the field of play. It’s only if he or she reaches out onto the field. If the ball is in the stands, all’s fair in love and souvenir-snagging.

After the game, West was interviewed about the call. Here is how he explained it.

 

Q. What did you see that prompted the initial call of fan interference?
JOE WEST: Well, when he jumped up to reach for the ball, the spectator reached out of the stands and hit him over the playing field and closed his glove.

Q. So the ball had not yet crossed the railing?
JOE WEST: No.

Q. And Betts’ glove had not yet crossed the railing, do you believe?
JOE WEST: No.

Q. Okay. Did the fan —
JOE WEST: Here’s the whole play, here’s the whole play. He hit the ball to right field. He jumped up to try to make a catch. The fan interfered with him over the playing field. That’s why I called spectator interference.

Q. So it’s a clear call in your mind?
JOE WEST: Yes.

Q. Were there already — was there a single call that you saw, that the replay officials saw on replay that confirmed —
JOE WEST: I don’t know what he saw. He just — the replay official said I was right.

Q. Okay.
JOE WEST: That’s all. He said I have nothing that can change it.

That last bit is not entirely true, by the way. They didn’t say, specifically, that West was right. Rather, they could not find sufficient evidence to overturn West, so the call stood. Which is an important distinction: if the ruling was that West was definitively correct, the ruling would’ve been that West’s call was “confirmed.” That is not what they said. They said the call “stands,” which meant that they didn’t have enough evidence to overturn West.

That’s a different issue in its entirety, by the way: the deference given to the field umpires and the high burden replay officials have to overturn them. Here, I suspect it was a matter of them not having sufficient camera angles establishing that the fan had not reached onto the field. I think that’s nuts given what even the primary view and some basic common sense showed — Betts did not run to the wall and then jump straight up, failing to break the plane into the stands — but the current replay system places a high burden on replay guys overruling the field umpires.

That whole setup is dumb. This is not the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and guys like Joe West should not be treated like District Court judges to whom deference should always be granted. Replay officials have better views almost every single time and they should be able to simply substitute their judgment rather than meet some high burden aimed, I suspect, at making field umpires feel like they’re not losing power now that baseball takes a 21st century approach to officiating rather than a 19th century approach.

Unfortunately for the Astros, that is not how the replay rule works. Unfortunately for the Astros, Joe West’s judgment was to be deferred to. Unfortunately for the Astros, West blew that call and, unfortunately for the Astros, it cost them a two-run homer that could’ve changed the outcome of this game.