The 2016 season is upon us. With the return of the baseball that counts, returns the 3 Astros things...
1. Played under protest
Tuesday's Opening Day between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees wasn't without controversy. With the game tied at 2-2 and a runner at second, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa hit a dribbler to reliever Dellin Betances. Correa raced up the line while Betances fielded the ball. When Betances turned to throw the ball to first, he found Correa running inside the baseline on the grass.
Betances' throw to first sailed long, resulting in an error and run for the Astros.
Home plate umpire and crew chief Dana DeMuth ruled that the play was not runner interference but instead simply a bad throw. He went as far to say to the Wall Street Journal Betances should have thrown at Correa to get the ruling in the Yankees favor:
"Do it. Throw it into the runner's back. Because then what's happening? He is impeding."
This seems to be in complete contradiction of the player safety movement in Major League Baseball. The league has cut down on catcher collisions and double play breakups. But now, an umpire is saying to throw at someone or the team won't get the call.
Here is what the rule states:
Rule 6.01(a) Penalty for Interference Comment (Rule 7.08(b) Comment): A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not. If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless, in the umpire's judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional
I understand runner interference is a judgement call but I would rather take an out for the Astros then a ball thrown at Carlos Correa's back.
At least, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has the right idea:
"I don't want to go in and tell my pitchers, ‘Just throw it and hit him in the back,'," he said. "Now you're asking one of our players to assault theirs."
2. Getting to know Tyler White
TCB has already talked at length about the awesomeness of Tyler White. White was a 33rd round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. He beat close 30 first-round picks from that class to the major leagues. He was MLB.com's Chatting Cage today.
We learned a few things about Mr. White today:
One, he is very much North Carolina country with a heavy accent -- which is great. Though my guess we would not get into a fight over barbeque since he is from North Carolina.
We also learned that White's hand was feeling alright after being hit in his first major league game.
You can watch the rest of the video here:
3. James Loney, Astro?
The easiest path to something is normally a straight line. After the Tampa Bay Rays got rid of the first baseman James Loney, the rumor spread the Astros may be interested in the veteran. The storyline is simple, the Astros don't have a veteran answer at first base and Loney was born in Houston. What more do you need? Loney is coming home, right?
Loney, 31, batted .280 (101x361) with four home runs, 32 RBIs, .322 OBP, .357 SLG and .679 OPS. Lone would step in front of three prospects that all have some claim to the job in Tyler White, Jon Singleton, and A.J. Reed. How could you justify picking Loney over any of those three?
On top of that Marwin Gonzalez still holds the Astros utility spot and backup first base position. If Loney, joins the Astros and is promptly demoted to the bench. How will Loney add value by being a first base only player? He won't. Gonzalez can play all over the infield and outfield.
Let us lay to rest the James Loney to Houston rumor before it gets any bigger.