Jonathan Papelbon: home plate umpire “sucked”

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Jonathan Papelbon is gonna get a nice big fine.

Last night, he thought he had Dee Gordon struck out looking. Home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn, however, thought differently.  After the inning was over — and after Gordon had come around to score the winning run — Papelbon sought out Reyburn and jawed at him.  But that was nothing compared to the jawing he did in the clubhouse after the game.

Upon being informed that Reyburn was a Triple-A callup ump, Papelbon said:

“Doesn’t surprise me. He probably needs to go back to Triple A … You’re up in the big leagues to do a good job and when you don’t do a good job you should be demoted or fired. It’s just like anybody’s job. If I don’t do my job, I go down to Triple A. There’s no room for that up here. It’s not a knock on the umpires. It’s the integrity of the game. You want to be able to go out there and play the game the way it should be played. All night long, from [Dodgers starter Clayton] Kershaw to [Phillies starter] Vance [Worley], all the way to the ninth inning, it affected the outcome of the game.

“I thought he was terrible – all day. It wasn’t just that pitch. All I wanted to know was if he could throw me out for what I was thinking, and if he could, I thought he sucked. It’s that simple.”

OK, that’s what he thinks. But looking at the pitches to Gordon, I’m not thinking he has a good case. The fourth pitch was called a ball and Papelbon thought it was a strike. It’s right on the edge. It was close, and maybe missed, but certainly not egregious and certainly not the kind of call that someone typically makes a federal case out of.

But Joe Torre’s gonna. And Papelbon’s wallet is gonna be a bit lighter for it.  Hope his rant made him feel better.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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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.