Umpire admits blowing call Friday in Tigers-Braves game

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Yet another umpire has acknowledged blowing a call against the Tigers.

Manager Jim Leyland said Sunday that home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom admitted making an error just hours after ringing up Tigers outfielder Johnny Damon on a called third strike Friday.  The error spoiled a bases-loaded opportunity in the ninth inning as Detroit fell to the NL East-leading Braves. 

The Peter Moylan pitch was clearly outside, and Cederstrom recognized that in a chat on the phone with Leyland late Friday night.

“I kicked it,” the ump told Leyland.  “I knew it right away.”

Tigers starter Armando Galarraga had a perfect game stripped from his grasp in early June when umpire Jim Joyce blew a close call at the first base bag on what would have been the 27th and final out.  But, hey, at least the Tigers won that game.

Cederstrom made the controversial call Friday in a bases-loaded, full count situation, and with the Tigers trailing the Braves 4-3.  A walk would have tied the game.  These mistakes will continue to happen, of course, until Major League Baseball decides to expand its use of instant replay.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”