Major League Baseball denies the Rays protest from Saturday’s game

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In case you missed it, the Rays protested Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays. The reason: umpire Bob Davidson allowed the Blue Jays to challenge a pickoff play at first base despite the fact that the pitcher, Mark Buehrle, was already on the mound and the Rays hitter was in the box. Once that happens, Section II.D of the replay rules says the previous play can no longer be challenged. The Jays won the challenge and the Rays’ baserunner was ruled out.

Moments ago Major League Baseball announced that the protest would be denied. No reason was given.

No reason was given, in all likelihood, because there is no reason for the ruling other than a lack of desire on Major League Baseball’s part to not overturn an umpire’s decision. But it’s clear that Davidson messed up and allowed a challenge when the rules did not call for one. This is where the players were when Gibbons came out to challenge the call, after all:

source:

And for what it’s worth, the baserunner was eliminated in a one-run game that was eventually decided by one run, so there can be no reasonable argument that the improper challenge was harmless. It could very well have made a difference in the game.

Of course this is one of the many dumb parts of having a replay rule tied to manager’s challenges.

UPDATE:  Worth noting — which I did not earlier, that Section K(4) of the Replay Regulations addresses game protests. It reads as follows:

“Official Baseball Rule 4.19 shall have no applicability to these Replay Regulations. No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the Replay Official. Moreover, a violation of any rule or procedure set forth herein shall not constitute a basis for protesting a game.”

Likewise, the judgment of an Umpire is not grounds for a protest.

Which doesn’t mean that Davidson got things right here. And which basically makes no sense, at least insofar as the mechanics of replay are concerned. A replay official makes a call you don’t like? Fine, live with it, and don’t protest. The actual rules of replay itself are misapplied? I don’t understand why that should be exempted.

 

Free agent market slow, but players who have signed have exceeded expectations

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The winter meetings are near the end — many execs are leaving Vegas tonight — and once again, the free agent market has moved rather slowly. Last year’s free agent market was perhaps the slowest in recent memory. This offseason, only 11 multi-year contracts have been signed by free agents to date. Six have been for two years, three have been for three years, one for four years, and one for six years.

Despite another slowly-moving free agent market, the players are optimistic because those that have signed contracts have exceeded expectations in terms of total value, per Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal. Patrick Corbin got $140 million, Nathan Eovaldi got $68 million, Andrew McCutchen got $50 million. Heck, even Lance Lynn coming off of a bad year got $30 million from the Rangers.

For comparison, as the offseason began, Fancred’s insider Jon Heyman (and an unnamed “expert”) made predictions about what the various free agent markets would get. Heyman and the expert predicted $100 million and $85 million, respectively, for Corbin, who got $140 million. They predicted $45 million and $64 million, respectively, for Eovaldi, who got $68 million. And they foresaw $39 million and $60 million for McCutchen, who got $50 million. Heyman predicted Charlie Morton would take the $17.9 million qualifying offer and the expert predicted he’d sign a one-year, $17 million deal. Morton got two years and $30 million. Heyman predicted 2/$16M for Lance Lynn and the expert only went a million higher at 2/$17M. He got 3/$30M.

Heyman isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so let’s also glance at the predictions from MLB Trade Rumors. 6/$129M for Corbin, 4/$60M for Eovaldi, 3/$45M for McCutchen, 2/$32M for Morton, and 2/$16M for Lynn. MLBTR hit a lot closer to the center of the dartboard, so to speak, but generally the players still got a bit more than anticipated, which is good, and justifies the optimism. Hopefully the trend continues over the coming two or three months.

Going forward, though, we probably should adjust our expectations of the winter meetings. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times brought up a great point, tweeting, “One problem with the Winter Meetings is they are still marketed as a news-making event at a time when executives no longer feel urgency to make news at said event.” All of the execs and journalists have access to one another via cell phones, so it’s become more of a hobnobbing event than a place to wheel and deal. These days, a deal could just as easily happen in the days leading up to or following the winter meetings. Maybe it’s just the new normal that we’ll be going into February with handfuls of free agents still looking for a new home.