Saturday, February 22, 2014

Roster: 2014 MLB Spring Training Umpires

MLB released its Spring Training Umpires roster for 2014, which includes all 74 umpires on the freshly expanded Major League staff, plus those minor league umpires invited and assigned to baseball's Spring Training in Arizona and Florida. The Major League staff remains unchanged from January 2014, when MLB hired seven MiLB umpires to the full-time MLB squad. This is a "contract year" as the present collective-bargaining agreement between the World Umpires Association (WUA) and MLB expires December 31, 2014.

The Spring Training roster below also includes sleeve numbers for all applicable umpires, including the new Minor League call-up umpires authorized to fill in at the Major League level during the regular season. "--" indicates umpire is a Minor League (AAA) official and has not been placed on the MLB regular season fill-in list.

MLB Spring Training Umpires' Roster - 2014 Pre-Season
MLB Staff MLB Staff MiLB Call-Ups
Baker, Jordan 71
Barksdale, Lance 23
Barrett, Lance 94
Barrett, Ted 65
Barry, Scott 87
Bellino, Dan 2
Blaser, Cory 89
Bucknor, CB 54
Carapazza, Vic 85
Carlson, Mark 6
Cederstrom, Gary 38
Conroy, Chris 98
Cooper, Eric 56
Culbreth, Fieldin 25
Cuzzi, Phil 10
Danley, Kerwin 44
Darling, Gary 37
Davidson, Bob 61
Davis, Gerry 12
DeMuth, Dana 32
Diaz, Laz 63
DiMuro, Mike 16
Drake, Rob 30
Dreckman, Bruce 1
Eddings, Doug 88
Emmel, Paul 50
Estabrook, Mike 83
Everitt, Mike 57
Fairchild, Chad 4
Fletcher, Andy 49
Foster, Marty 60
Gibson, Greg 53
Gonzalez, Manny 79
Gorman, Brian 9
Guccione, Chris 68
Hallion, Tom 20
Hernandez, Angel 55
Hickox, Ed 15
Hirschbeck, John 17
Holbrook, Sam 34
Hoye, James 92
Hudson, Marvin 51
Iassogna, Dan 58
Johnson, Adrian 80
Joyce, Jim 66
Kellogg, Jeff 8
Knight, Brian 91
Kulpa, Ron 46
Layne, Jerry 24
Marquez, Alfonso 72
McClelland, Tim 36
Meals, Jerry 41
Miller, Bill 26
Muchlinski, Mike 76
Nauert, Paul 39
Nelson, Jeff 45
O'Nora, Brian 7
Porter, Alan 64
Rackley, David 86
Randazzo, Tony 11
Reyburn, D.J. 70
Reynolds Jim 77
Schrieber, Paul 43
Scott, Dale 5
Tichenor, Todd 13
Timmons, Tim 95
Vanover, Larry 27
Wegner, Mark 14
Welke, Bill 52
Welke, Tim 3
Wendelstedt, Hunter 21
West, Joe 22
Winters, Mike 33
Bailey, Allen --
Barber, Sean 29
Basner, Toby 99
Buckminster, Seth 67
Byrne, Jon 59
Campos, Angel 84
Fagan, Clint 82
Gibson, Hal "Tripp" 73
Gosney, Jeff 40
Hamari, Adam 78
Hoberg, Pat 31
Johnson, Anthony 48
Lampe, Shaun --
Little, Will 93
May, Ben 97
Morales, Gabe 47
Morrow, Jeff --
Myers, Brad --
Ortiz, Alex --
Pattillo, Marcus 18
Ripperger, Mark 90
Scheurwater, Stuart 85
Segal, Chris 96
Soucy, David --
Tumpane, John 74
Whitson, Chad 62
Wolcott, Quinn 81
Woodring, Tom 75

(28 MiLB Umpires)
(74 MLB Umpires)
(102 Total Umpires)

Information obtained by
UEFL on 2/22/2014.
Some observations:
  • Vic Carapazza and Stu Scheurwater presently are assigned to share sleeve number 85.
  • Angel Campos remains on the MiLB call-up and MLB Spring Training lists.
  • Todd Tichenor has vacated #97 (Ben May) and assumed #13, Derryl Cousins' old number.
  • Chad Fairchild has vacated #75 (Tom Woodring) and assumed #4, Tim Tschida's old number.
  • [*] Jim Wolf does not appear on the Spring Training Umpires list as captured 2/22/14.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Canadian Connection (Video): Scheurwater on Call-Up List

Umpire Stu Scheurwater was named to the MLB call-up list in advance of the 2014 season, setting the wheels in motion for a possible regular season debut following a full Spring Training slate.  A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and then a resident of Regina, Scheurwater becomes the only active umpire on the fill-in slate from Canada; in 2012, for instance, he was one of just three Canadian umpires in Minor League Baseball.

MiLB & MLB Fill-In Umpire Stu Scheurwater
He began umpiring at 14 years of age and joined the Baseball Canada National Program at the end of his teenage years, ultimately landing at the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in 2006, graduating to an Arizona League placement by PBUC, though he sat out the 2006 season due to a delay with Homeland Security processing his visa paperwork.

Scheurwater has also officiated in Northwest, South Atlantic and Carolina Single-A, Texas Double-A and presently serves as a Pacific Coast League (AAA) rover; he worked the 2012 Arizona Fall League, which was followed by a 2013 Spring Training invite for the Arizona region. He is also an electrician and was married this offseason, December 28, 2013.

Global's Morning News Regina produced a brief interview with Scheurwater, who discusses his baseball beginnings, journey and future. The video is accessible via the Global News: Regina website.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

MLB Instant Replay Game Theory and the Delayed Debut

MLB's expanded video instant replay system will not debut in Australia with the Dodgers-Diamondbacks opening series March 22 and 23 because the Sydney Cricket Ground presently does not and will not have the requisite cameras or technology in place.

Instead, MLB's replay challenge system will make its first appearance a week later, March 30, in San Diego as Los Angeles travels to Petco Park for its 2014 United States Regular Season opener against the Padres.

The delay was confirmed by Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly, whose Dodgers have not yet had a comprehensive team or coaches' meeting regarding expanded instant replay and the associated challenge system.

Likewise, Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall succinctly stated, "The two games in Australia, we will not have replay." Well, at least in part. The 2008 local instant replay system established for use with home run boundary calls will travel to Australia with the NL West foes. Hall discussed replay as part of an interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM and looked forward to being able to show replay of close plays on the Chase Field video board without worrying about fines from the Commissioner's Office: "There were times where we got fined by Major League Baseball because we showed something we weren't supposed to show...Now we're able to show those replays."

Meanwhile, baseball statisticians and sabr scouts have been considering strategy for the new system—with just one challenge apiece (two if the first is successful), how should replay and challenges be used in advance of the 7th-inning manager's challenge deadline?

The statistics indicate that a significant majority of foreseeable challenged plays will result in an upheld call—replay will only overturn around 20% of them. Data suggests a missed call every five games played, or about three per day of full activity (15 games between the 30 MLB teams).

The conventional wisdom—which is mostly speculation at this point—tends towards throwing the metaphorical challenge flag earlier rather than later. For instance,

>> "You don't want to waste a challenge." - Cubs Manager Rick Renteria;
>> "Managers should just throw that flag for any close play, the first time they see one." - BP's Dan Brooks

Brooks and fellow Baseball Prospectus author Russell Carleton continued, "Since there's essentially no cost for missing, any time managers see a challenge opportunity, they should take it."

It all comes down to game theory. On average, we anticipate 0.20 missed calls per game; the likelihood of a successful challenge across any given game therefore, in the grand scheme of things, is low. Therefore, if any single play stands any chance of being overturned via instant replay review, it should be challenged. Confounding variables such as losing a timeout (NFL, NCAA Football) are wholly irrelevant as the only consequence is losing the ability to challenge another close call prior to the seventh inning when umpires take over the challenge initiation responsibility.

Given the great minuscule nature of replay calls, could we potentially see an interaction with team status as home or away? Because the visiting team tends to receive, all else equal, approximately 2-5% fewer advantageous calls than the home team, could visiting teams initiate most challenges or, alternatively, could a team's status as the visitor indicate, all else equal, a greater propensity to challenge a call?

To another end and in regards to zero sum game theory, could teams have a propensity to challenge more plays officiated by an umpire perceived as unreliable than an umpire perceived as accurate (e.g., would a CB Bucknor v Jim Joyce replay statistical analysis show a significant disparity of plays challenged—and upheld or overturned?)?

Furthermore, replay is presumably "better" than the umpire when, for instance, the replay angle is better than that of the onfield umpire. Because it is rather improbable to prove a negative in a sport that follows the "clear and convincing evidence" standard (e.g., not de novo or on its own merits), certain challenges will be more successful—presumably—than others.

The general principle is that instant replay can prove that, for instance, a fair ball actually was foul but not that a foul ball was actually fair—this isn't to say such a call cannot be overturned, it is to say that if the umpire calls a ball fair (and thus alive), the play continues until review; not so the negative.

Because of the unlikelihood in proving the negative, the ball will likely be upheld as fair with 100% probability (even with only 50% probability of QOC); if not, then not. The no-call (e.g., fair instead of foul ball—all that keeps a play alive) is a preferred call because it is easier to call the whole thing off (e.g., call a foul ball retroactively) than to (1) overturn the call (foul to fair) and then (2) incorporate its consequences (e.g., place runners). A similar theory explains an official's tendency or incentive to call a close play, all else equal, in such a way that it is not reviewable.

The umpire's threshold for making a definitive call with replay available is therefore higher than it would be in the absence of replay. This is all work generally captured at the subconscious level.

All in all, umpires simply tend to be too good for this sort of analysis to go anywhere farther than the Books-Carleton approach of "any time managers see a challenge opportunity, they should take it." Opportunity cost is minimal, marginal benefit is conceivably significant and if the challenge is lost, the seventh inning beckons anyway.