MLB chose not to institute a replay system whose sole goal was getting calls right, instead opting for a system that involved managerial challenges and strategy, at least until the seventh inning of games. In Tuesday’s Giants-Diamondbacks game, won by Arizona 5-4, we saw exactly what’s going to come of such a system.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy chose to challenge this call in the fourth inning. A.J. Pollock appeared to be picked off first base, but he was called safe on the slide.
The replay was deemed inconclusive, so the umpires will get to add this one to the “we were right all along” tally. Bochy lost his right to challenge, which proved big when, just a couple of pitches afterwards, Pollock scored from third on a passed ball. Cain appeared to get the tag on him on the play at the plate (sorry, no video for that one yet), but the Giants couldn’t challenge and the umpires have no ability to go to the replay themselves until the seventh.
Best to remember things like this when the inevitable stats about how often the umpires were correct on replay challenges come out. In truth, they were probably 0-for-2 here, but it will go into the books as a 1-for-1.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”