Yesterday we debated whether or not umpires react to crowd noise and stuff like that. Today comes evidence that other subjective factors color their calls as well:
Rick Reed acknowledged Thursday that his ball-four call on a
ninth-inning pitch by Angels closer Brian Fuentes to Nick Green on
Wednesday night “very well could have been a strike” . . . Reed said that on that final pitch to Green, Mike Napoli’s actions led
him to call it a ball after the Angels catcher tried to frame the
knee-high pitch . . . “The catcher did a nice job of bringing it up,
and that was a telling blow. If a catcher moves his glove, it’s to
improve the pitch.”
Anyone who has watched a lot of baseball knows this on some level, but it is odd to hear an umpire acknowledge that the catcher’s framing of the pitch and body language actually influences the call so directly. Here’s some more evidence that the old conventional wisdom regarding umpires is true:
“I called a [strike] earlier in the game that I thought was low, and I
said, ‘I’m not going to let that happen again.’ I wish they were all
waist-high. They’d be a lot easier to judge.”
The old makeup call. Something umps — and football refs — claim never occurs. Again, we all knew it, but it’s quite a thing to hear an umpire admit it.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.