The A's are interested in Sheets, and if not him, Damon

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There’s apparently some money burning a hole in Billy Beane’s pocket, because according to Buster Olney, the Athletics are trying to sign Ben Sheets. Sheets figures to command around $8 million, so either Beane was given some new financial latitude or else he’s been playin’ possum. 

A Sheets signing would be a nice move for the A’s who, given how tough the AL West appears to be this year, will need to take some chances and hope for some upside from a lot of their players.  Of course, given that this is Beane, it may be far more likely that he’d expect a nice first half from Sheets followed by a deadline deal for prospects.  Which would also be smart.

The kicker: Olney says that if the A’s can’t swing a deal for Sheets, they’d turn their attention to Johnny Damon, whom would presumably be subject to the same sort of deadline-deal, free agent arbitrage.

Query: is a Buster Olney tweet enough to make the A’s an official “mystery team?”  If so, I may owe Scott Boras an apology. 

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.