Longtime umpire Frank Pulli — pioneer of instant replay — dies

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Longtime NL umpire Frank Pulli died due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. There’s a look at his life and career over at the New York Times.

One of my favorite things about him was the time he took it upon himself to get a call right by using a cameraman’s replay monitor to change a call of a Cliff Floyd hit from a double to a home run, which was the correct call.  At the time the National League issued a statement saying that Pulli using replay was unacceptable and that “The integrity of the game requires that judgments be left to on-field personnel.” Lost in that statement was that Pulli was “on-field personnel” and was merely doing his best with all of the tools available to him to make the right call.

Now baseball is embarking on replay in which on-field personnel are only supposed to do such things if managers force them to with a challenge flag, effectively cutting off proactive moves like Pulli’s. What a shame.

 

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.