Buster Olney makes a great point today: Andy Pettitte has been called for 11 balks in his career. Three of those were called by Angel Hernandez, who obviously doesn’t think that Pettitte’s awesome move to first is so awesome. Or maybe it’s too awesome. I don’t know. The point, though: Angel Hernandez is umping first base tonight.
It was a long time ago — maybe 1997 or 1998 — but I remember an ESPN game in which someone made a point to break down Pettitte’s move to first base. It’s pretty spectacular, and I’m not sure how Hernandez calls it as a balk more than others do. Maybe he just caught Pettitte on bad days. Maybe Hernandez just isn’t much of an ump.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.
Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.
Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.
Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.