Home plate umpire Mike Winters criticized A.J. Ellis’ framing ability

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Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and catcher A.J. Ellis were ejected from last night’s game against the Cardinals for arguing about the strike zone with home plate umpire Mike Winters. According to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Ellis said he was set off after Winters criticized his ability to frame pitches:

“Their job is to call balls and strikes,” Ellis said. “It’s not their job to be a catching coach behind the plate. It’s not their job to be critical of what I’m doing. It shouldn’t even matter if there’s a catcher there or not. The ball comes through a zone and they need to take a look at that.

“People on blogs and websites can critique my framing but I’m not going to take it from an umpire because it’s not their job to do that. It’s their job to call balls and strikes based on what comes through a strike zone.”

As Harry Pavlidis wrote at ESPN.com earlier this week, Ellis rates very highly as a game-caller, but advanced metrics have him among the lowest as far as pitch framing. Winters may or may not have known that, but his comments clearly struck a nerve with Ellis. Who knows if this sort of exchange between a catcher and an umpire is unusual or not, but it’s interesting to hear an umpire being so open about how framing influences his strike zone. The numbers show it, but you never hear much from umpires about it. Probably for good reason. Then again, maybe Winters was just making excuses for an inconsistent strike zone and knew that criticizing Ellis for his framing would get under his skin.

Winters declined to respond to Ellis’ comments through a pool reporter, but said through a Cardinals official that the issue was balls and strikes and “the rest of it stays private.”

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.