Torre talks umpires during meeting with Cards
Chief baseball officer discusses several topics with Matheny, St. Louis players
MILWAUKEE -- Major League Baseball's chief baseball officer, Joe Torre, visited the Cardinals' clubhouse before the team's game with the Brewers on Saturday. Torre, who is in charge of umpires, discussed how they are being evaluated, among other topics, and allowed Cardinals players to voice their opinions.
It was a positive experience for the Cardinals, according to manager Mike Matheny.
"I think it's good leadership that he's willing to initiate conversation," Matheny said of Torre. "I've never been a part of that before. He's probably done it before on a smaller scale, but the fact that he's giving guys a chance [to express any issues they might have], it's impressive.
"He wasn't in there making excuses for anybody. He said, 'Help me understand how we can help improve.' He's a great ambassador for the game."
Torre, who conducted the same type of meeting with the Brewers pregame, was named to the position in 2014. He currently oversees areas that include Major League operations, on-field operations, on-field discipline and umpiring. His priority is to serve as a contact for the Office of the Commissioner with the general managers and field managers of the 30 clubs regarding on-field matters.
One topic of discussion between Torre and the Cardinals on Friday was the strike zone and how the umpires are being graded. Matheny said there's a difference between the technology provided to his players and what the league is judging umpires on.
"That's legitimate. Our guys go up and see that they missed [the strike zone available to them] and [the umpires] go back and on their box that they're being graded on, it clips the zone. ... Those sorts of things, I think, are good for us to know."
Matheny said he entered the meeting without an agenda and wanted to hear what Torre had to say and then relay some of the things the players were saying. Matheny keeps in touch with Torre off and on and says he's always been very receptive.
The transparency between the league's office and the teams that Torre provided Saturday impressed both Matheny and his players.
"We talked about how [the umpires] are evaluated, what the system looks like, what the ramifications are and what the rewards are. For them to hear from him, it makes them realize that there is someone that [the umpires] are answering to."