MLB has fined Cardinals manager Tony La Russa an undisclosed amount for his criticism of umpires during a between-innings television interview Sunday, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
In speaking to the TBS announcers, La Russa said of home plate umpire Jerry Meals: “I would add–which could get me in trouble, but I’m going to add anyway–is that we are pitching to two different strike zones.”
Well, he was right about the “get me in trouble” part. La Russa met yesterday with MLB vice president for on-field operations Joe Torre, but the manager declined to comment afterward.
Strauss reports that the fine was “four figures,” so while it isn’t enough to put a dent in La Russa’s bank account it’ll probably be enough to keep him quiet.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.