A.J. Ellis doesn’t think Yadier Molina should have had to apply a tag on close play at home

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One of the memorable plays from NLCS Game 1 came in the top of the tenth inning. With one out, A.J. Ellis hit a line drive to right-center — a single if center fielder Jon Jay played it correctly. Jay, however, mistakenly dove after the ball and missed it completely. Ellis motored to third base as the ball made its way back to the infield. Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked, bringing up Michael Young with runners on the corners and one out.

Young hit a lazy fly ball to right fielder Carlos Beltran. Beltran camped under it, then fired the ball home. Catcher Yadier Molina corralled the ball just before Ellis crashed into him. Home plate umpire Gerry Davis called Ellis out, ending the inning, keeping the Cardinals’ hopes alive. Replays shown on the TBS broadcast called into question the veracity of the call.

After the game, Ellis said that Davis made the correct call, even if Molina didn’t actually apply the tag. Via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:

“In the history of baseball, no one has ever been called safe on that play because they didn’t tag them,” A.J. Ellis said Saturday.

Ellis said he understood such a play would be subject to a replay challenge next year.

“That would be a shame for a great defensive play like that, the great throw by Carlos, and great play by Yadier at the plate to be overturned because of a technicality that he didn’t graze him with the glove,” Ellis said.

As a fellow catcher, it’s not surprising to see Ellis take Molina’s side. It is surprising to expect a defender to be given credit for an action without actually having to make it. Middle infielders are still expected to touch the second base bag and apply tags even when they have runners stampeding towards them from first base. What reason is there to treat catchers separately?

Two mystery teams are talking to Manny Machado

Manny Machado
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The Phillies and White Sox have dominated much of the conversation around free agent Manny Machado this winter, but Andy Martino of SNY says that they may have some stiff competition as the clock winds down to Opening Day. Two mystery teams have been recently linked to the slugger, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman adds that one of them currently has the high bid, though they’re not considered his “preferred landing spot.”

There’s little sense in putting any stock in these kinds of rumors, of course, but it’ll be interesting to see how Machado’s camp responds in the weeks to come. The 26-year-old’s father, Manuel, added some fuel to the fire on Friday after taking an interview with Z101 Digital, saying, “I believe that the team you will probably less think about is the one that’s going to sign Manny Machado.”

Whether that’s in reference to the Yankees, who are apparently still in the conversation, or a true unknown team remains to be seen. Machado has given little, if any indication that he’s leaning toward a particular club, but is generally expected to be more receptive to whichever suitor feels inclined to meet his 10-year, $300 million asking price. At the very least, Manuel’s comments may help light a fire under the Phillies and White Sox as they continue to mull over a potential deal with the four-time All-Star.