Last year, after a bunch of missed calls in the early rounds, Major League Baseball made sure that the World Series was populated with experienced umpires. This year, not so much: the crew will include World Series first timers Sam Holbrook and Bill Miller, along with vets John Hirschbeck, Gary Darling, Mike Winters and Jeff Kellogg.
Using a highly scientific method (i.e. searching the HardballTalk archives) I can’t find any instances of Holbrook engaging in any poor umpiring-related shenanigans. Miller shows up once last season after he allegedly called Yorvit Torrealba a bad word. Inasmuch as Yorvit Torrealba is not in the World Series, I think we’re cool here.
Ultimately, though, the “only experienced umps in the World Series” thing last year is a kind of dumb. Joe West has all kinds of experience and he stinks on ice. Whether they’re pups or graybeards, just make sure they’re the ones most likely to get the calls right, cool? I mean, at least until we have replay and don’t have to cross our fingers and make a wish in order to ensure that important stuff isn’t blown in big games.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.