Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Confirmed: MLB Hires 7 New Umpires to Full-Time Staff

MLB hired umpires Jordan Baker, Lance Barrett, Cory Blaser, Mike Estabrook, Mike Muchlinski, David Rackley and DJ Reyburn to the full-time Major League staff as the professional baseball's highest league continued its umpire hiring spree Tuesday afternoon. The new hires include five Pacific Coast League and four International League alumni (Barrett and Reyburn worked both leagues).

The aforementioned former vacation fill-in umpires are the seven umpires rumored by the UEFL to be MLB's latest hired officials related to crew expansion and baseball's adoption of video instant replay.

Jordan Baker: With just 197 games of Major League experience over two seasons (72 in 2012, 125 in 2013), Baker is the freshest of the hires, debuting June 22, 2012 during the evening's Indians-Astros game. The 6-foot, 7-inch Baker ejected three in 2013 for an MLB career total of six ejections. Baker worked as a AAA call-up while in the Pacific Coast League, after a mid-year promotion from the Double-A Southern League in 2011. He graduated from the Wendelstedt School.
> First ejection: July 23, 2012 (SF Giants SS Brandon Crawford)
> Most recent ejection: June 12, 2013 (KC Royals DH Billy Butler).

Lance Barrett: Barrett enters the full-time roster of officials with 212 big league games over four years (three games in 2010, 39 in 2011, 104 in 2012 and 66 in 2013) and five ejections during that span, all occurring during Barrett's busy 2012 season. The 29-year-old Fort Worth, Texas native spent 2011 and 2012 in the PCL after a 2008-2011 stint in the International League. Prior to AAA, Barrett worked the Gulf Coast, Appalachian, Florida Instructional, South Atlantic, California, Eastern, and Arizona Instructional Leagues. He also worked the 2008 and 2009 Arizona Fall and 2010 Dominican Winter League.
> First ejection: April 16, 2012 (CHI White Sox Pitching Coach Don Cooper)
> Most recent ejection: August 25, 2012 (CHI W-Sox C AJ Pierzynski & M Ventura).

Cory Blaser: Blaser has 346 games of MLB service since his first season of 12 MLB games in 2010. The 32-year-old Denver, Colorado native has four career MLB ejections, though none since 2011. Like Baker, Blaser hails from the Pacific Coast League and like Estabrook, he graduated from the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School. Blaser worked the PCL from 2008-2013, accumulating numerous All-Star Game and Post-Season assignments in the minors, including the 2007 Eastern League All-Star Game. He also worked the California and Arizona Leagues, pickup up off-season Arizona Fall, Dominican Winter and Venezuela League assignments.
> First ejection: May 12, 2010 (COL Rockies Manager Jim Tracy).
> Most recent ejection: July 16, 2011 (COL Rockies C Chris Iannetta & Mgr Tracy).

Mike Estabrook: Estabrook's 696 games of MLB experience ranks first amongst this hiring class, as does the Daytona Beach, Florida's age (37 years at time of hire [7/28/1976]). He holds a share of the top ejection title with fellow umpire DJ Reyburn, though Estabrook began his Major League umpiring career two years earlier, in 2006. The 37-year-old Estabrook began his professional baseball career out of the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in 1999 (as the "top student" nonetheless) when he was placed into the Gulf Coast League. Since then the Boynton Beach, Florida resident worked the Appalachian, South Atlantic, Florida State and Venezuelan Leagues before promotion to AAA's International League in 2005, where he remained through 2013 and his 2014 promotion to the MLB staff. Estabrook worked the Arizona Fall League in 2006.
> First ejection: April 25, 2009 (CIN Reds PH Jerry Hairston & Manager Dusty Baker).
> Most recent ejection: September 13, 2012 (KC Royals DH Billy Butler).

Mike Muchlinski: With 570 MLB games in the bigs since a 34-game 2006 debut, Muchlinski is second to Estabrook in this hiring class when it comes to MLBU seniority. Over the course of his fill-in service, Muchlinski racked up 10 ejections, which leads this group of hires. The Tacoma, Washington native is the third oldest umpire hired at this time, born on February 26, 1977 (36 years old at time of permanent appointment). Muchlinski worked as "Michael Muchlinski" in the PCL since 2003 after stints in the Eastern and Midwest Leagues during years prior. Muchlinski worked the first round of the 2006 World Baseball Classic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona.
> First ejection: August 18, 2007 (OAK Athletics Manager Bob Geren).
> Most recent ejection: August 17, 2013 (DET Tigers C Brayan Pena).

David Rackley: Rackley's 170 games at the Major League level come over four years of work (six games in the inaugural 2010 season) and produced three ejections, including two in 2013. The 31-year-old North Carolinan (by way of his native Houston) spent six full years in Triple-A's International League after stops through the lower level Arizona, Florida Instructional, Northwest, South Atlantic, California, Arizona Instructional and Texas Leagues. Rackley worked the off-season Arizona Fall League twice (2008-'09) and Venezuelan Winter League in 2010.
> First ejection: August 26, 2012 (HOU Astros PH Marwin Gonzalez).
> Most recent ejection: August 9, 2013 (STL Cardinals 2B Daniel Descalso & M Mike Matheny).

DJ Reyburn: Reyburn is the only of these seven umpires to have begun his MLB career in 2008, accruing 437 games and shares the most cumulative ejections of the group with 14 heave-ho's beginning in 2009. Born on October 13, 1976 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reyburn is also the second eldest of the present hiring class (37 years old at time of permanent appointment) and, like Barrett, worked both the PCL (2006-2009, 2012-13) and International (2010) Leagues. Prior to Triple-A, Reyburn began his professional career with the 2000 Arizona League, subsequently officiating in the Appalachian, Florida Instructional, Midwest, Florida State, Arizona Instructional and Eastern Leagues. He additionally worked the off-season Arizona Fall (2006-2009) and Dominican (2009-10) Leagues and was the umpire assaulted by Jose Offerman during a LiDom game, resulting in both his (and his crewmates') resignation from LiDom and Offerman's lifetime ban, which was overturned by the league in 2013. Reyburn worked the 2013 WBC Qualifier in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
> First ejection: August 9, 2009 (CIN Reds PH Alex Gonzalez).
> Most recent ejection: June 17, 2013 (CHI Cubs Manager Dale Sveum).

Bill Miller is said to be MLB's choice to serve as crew chief for the new crew created by the staff expansion.

The hires were confirmed by MLBU crew chief Jerry Layne at the Wendelstedt School.


Lindsay said...

Pretty clear that they are adding 1 crew and have 1 retirement. Because there was already 1 vacancy thanks to the sad passing of Wally Bell. The alternative is that they are adding no new crews and have 5 retirements, which seems like a lot.

Lindsay said...

So I guess we'll be looking at 1 new CC?

Lindsay said...

Went to school with Mike M in 99, well deserved long road. Enjoy it and celebrate!

Lindsay said...

Bit surprised with the hire of D.J. Reyburn since he did not strike me as a good balls/strikes umpire and he only had 50 games in 2013, which was decline from 93 in 2010, 109 in 2011, and 130 in 2012. He also has a bit of a short fuse when I saw him. I guess Clint Fagan, Will Little, and Adam Hamari will get the bulk of the replacements this year with a smattering of Toby Basner and John Tumpane

Lindsay said...

I'll amend my statement from yesterday because it was based on 6 hires: it seems likely that they are adding a crew to rotate through a replay center and have 2 retirements + the late Wally Bell's spot on the roster to fill. Otherwise the number 7 wouldn't make much sense.

Personally, I have not been impressed by either Muchlinski or Estabrook and I would have rather seen Clint Fagan, who impressively handled a brawl and an 18 inning plate game last year get a spot.

Lindsay said...

I agree and disagree (because of the # of games he has worked compared to most of these hires). Fagan is a great umpire and I think he should get one of the next 2-3 spots. He did manage that brawl really well and has a really good strike zone IMO. But I think he only has about 90 games. I think Fagan is on track to get 130+ since the main rovers got promoted as well as Gibson. I think they will be the next nodes for traditional hiring in-lieu of retirements.

My limited $0.02

Lindsay said...

I'm weird in that I like experience at the top of my umpiring crew, but I'd rather see quality from the young guys. I didn't get the Rob Drake hire for the same reason— in my limited experience I've seen these guys blow calls and have mediocre strike zones. Obviously, none of our opinions are particularly valid because of sample size issues.

Lindsay said...

Wait did Miller and Nelson get CC assignments? What I would guess with the new hires:

1 for Bell
4 for new crew
2 for retiring CCs (Hirschbeck, Cederstrom)
3 new CCs (Nelson, Everitt, Miller)

Lindsay said...

How does that look, I'm not sure?

Lindsay said...

According to Jayson Stark, they are hiring 2 new crews. Which means that without any retirements, they need 9 new umpires. If two guys have retired, that means we still have 4 more hires to come?

Lindsay said...

Miller is a great hire to crew chief. In the last six years he's worked 2 WBC's including last year's finals, 2 Workd Series, 3 LCS's, 3 DS's, a Wild Card game and an all star game......very impressive.

Lindsay said...

Great news......!!!!!

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