Dodger signings: Mientkiewicz, Towers, Ayala

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While the Dodgers have yet to confirm the Jamey Carroll signing (his agent has, however), they did add several veterans on minor league deals announced Thursday, including first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, infielder Angel Berroa, RHP Josh Towers and RHP Luis Ayala.
It’s necessary depth for a team that’s bled prospects recently and can’t afford a bunch of additional veteran options right now.
Mientkiewicz’s return was a surprise. He said he came back last year to get the 10 years of service time he’d need to qualify for a full pension. He ended up spending 4 1/2 months on the disabled list with a dislocated shoulder, but he hit the 10-year mark anyway. It seems unlikely that the Dodgers will want to carry him again when they already have a left-handed-hitting first baseman in James Loney and another possible left-handed-hitting infield reserve in Blake DeWitt.
Berroa added a little life to his floundering career by hitting .230/.304/.310 in 226 at-bats with the Dodgers in 2008 before jumping to the Yankees last winter. The decision presumably will result in him being mailed a World Series ring in April, but he ended up with just 22 at-bats with the Bombers and 27 more with the Mets, and he finished up 7-for-49. He shouldn’t be a candidate to break camp with the Dodgers.
Towers also spent a portion of last season with the Yankees, making two relief appearances for the club. He spent the bulk of the year going 7-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 18 starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With no fastball to speak of and a tendency to give up long flyballs, Towers is strictly Triple-A depth for the Dodgers.
Ayala finished with a 5.71 ERA for the Nationals and Mets in 2008 and a 5.62 ERA for the Twins and Marlins last season. The 31-year-old was a pretty extreme groundball pitcher prior to blowing out his elbow in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but his sinker isn’t what it was and probably never will be again. The Dodgers should have better options for their last couple of bullpen spots.

World Series Umpires announced

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In the Major League Baseball system, the people are entertained by two separate yet equally important groups. The players who play the game and the umpires who call the balls, strikes and outs. These are their stories.

Wait, that’s not true. They’re not equally important and we certainly don’t want to hear the umpires’ stories. If the stories are about the umpires it usually that means they’ve screwed up.

Not always, though! In 2013, you may recall, I wrote a story about an umpire who made a much talked about call in a World Series game that (a) happened to be right, even if it was much-debated; and (b) his story is one I’ve always found compelling, even if he’s most famous for a call he got wrong.

Jim Joyce, though, an umpire who was widely admired and respected despite his famous blunders, is one of the few exceptions to the rule about what it means to know an umpires’ name. Most of the time we’re all lucky — umpires included — if the introductions are the first and last time we hear of them.

Here they are for the 2018 World Series, with Game 1 assignments noted:

Home: Tim Timmons
1B: Kerwin Danley
2B: Ted Barrett — Crew Chief
3B: Chad Fairchild
LF: Jeff Nelson
RF:Jim Reynolds
Replay, Games 1-2: Fieldin Culbreth
Replay, Game 3-End: Tim Timmons