Matt Kemp calls out umpire Dale Scott’s strike zone. Did he have a point?

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source: AP

Home plate umpire Dale Scott did not make any friends on the Dodgers last night, calling what they thought to be an extremely generous strike zone when L.A. batters were at the plate. After the game lots of Dodgers players and manager Don Mattingly noted the difficult strike zone in more or less diplomatic terms. Matt Kemp, however, was less than diplomatic. When he struck out in the ninth inning he got face-to-face with Scott. His comments after the game:

“Terrible. Terrible strike zone. I’ve never seen anything like it. That’s disappointing because you’ve got guys out there battling. You know, this is two good teams going at it, and it’s supposed to be the teams, not the umpire, and I just feel like the umpire took the bat out of our hands today. He had a very generous strike zone. It’s hard to face good pitching when you’ve got a guy throwing a ball in the other batter’s box, and it’s called strikes.”

He may get a fine for that. But does he have a point? Let’s go to Dan Brooks’ Strike Zone Map.

First, the called strikes against left handed hitters. This is from the umpire’s perspective. Red dots were called strikes, green dots were called balls. Squares are for Cardinals hitters, triangles are for when Dodgers hitters were up. The solid black square is the regulation strike zone. The dashed square are what umpires typically call in reality:

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Lefties didn’t have a terrible go of it. Yes, some outsides pitches called for strikes, but within typical umpire variation. And if anything Cardinals lefties had more calls go against them to the outside, possibly because A.J. Ellis was framing better than Yadier Molina, possibly because Dodgers pitchers were more consistently throwing out there.

Now for righties. Same deal:

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It’s pretty clear that when righties were up — and Kemp is a righty — that pitchers were getting a LOT of calls on the outside. And unless my eyes are deceiving me, it looks like Cards righty batters had more bad calls go against them on the outside than Dodgers hitters.

But did Matt Kemp have a particularly bad time with Scott? Seems so. He struck out looking in the ninth prior to his argument. Check out strike two and strike three, ball two and strike three which are pitches 4 and 5, basically on top of each other:

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He certainly had a right to be mad about those particular pitches being called differently. Ultimately, however, no team has ever gotten anywhere complaining about the strike zone. The Dodgers need to suck it up and avoid elimination tonight. Getting better bullpen work would help them with that more than going after the men in blue.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”