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.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.