Baseball's ump-overseer is demoted

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MLB logo.jpgJimmy Lee Solomon is MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.  In that capacity he handles on-the-field issues, discipline, security, ballpark issues and stuff like that. Or I should say he was MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and handled on-the-field issues, because according to Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times, Solomon has been “demoted.”

Why? Unknown at the moment, but it’s worth
noting that one of Solomon’s duties is to oversee umpires.  And as we’ve
been following for some time now, the umpires are out of control. Bad
calls and bad attitudes and in need of a good butt-kicking.

Eric Fisher of SportsBusinessJournal doesn’t characterize it as a demotion, but he has more details: Solomon will now be the Executive Vice President for Baseball Development, in which capacity he’ll be overseeing youth academies and things like that. Taking Solomon’s old title will be Kevin McHale (no, not that one), who has been V.P. of Administration.  He’ll only handle part of the job. The umpire oversight and on-field discipline parts of the job will be handled by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who has been a special assistant to Bud Selig for a while now.

Is Solomon getting whacked because of bad umpiring, or is this, as Fisher suggests, an efficiency move?  My sense is the former because it’s coming out so late on a Friday, the traditional dumping-ground of less-than-flattering news.

Updates as we learn more, of course.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.