Bobby Jenks made headlines last month for suggesting that the White Sox weren’t treating him fairly regarding his injuries and conditioning, at which point general manager Ken Williams publicly stated that Jenks should focus on losing some weight.
Despite that back and forth in the media, Williams made it clear today that he has no plans to trade the portly closer who blew four of his final 11 save attempts before finishing the season on the disabled list with a calf injury. Sort of:
He’s my closer, and I haven’t had one trade discussion about him. That’s not to say I wouldn’t entertain anything, but I’m not going out there actively having talks. He’s one of the game’s better closers and people need closers, but so do we.
Listen, we speak our minds and we don’t stop the players from speaking their minds. We are all grown men here. Nothing that has been said to [the media], whether through Ozzie or me or Bobby, nothing that has been said hasn’t already been said behind closed doors.
Setting aside any public spats and hurt feelings, Jenks is about to get very expensive via arbitration and his performance has slipped in recent years. He earned $5.6 million this season, will get a raise for 2010, and his Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) has gone from 2.94 during his first three seasons with the White Sox to 3.84 over the past two years.
Jenks remains a good closer, but his performance has declined to the point that he’s no longer elite, he doesn’t seem like a good bet to age particularly well, he figures to earn around $18 million over the next two seasons before becoming a free agent, and the White Sox are reportedly already up against their payroll limit. Williams may not be looking to deal Jenks, but he’d be smart to listen to offers with an open mind.
The Nationals were expected to activate outfielder Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list in advance of Monday’s series opener in Philadelphia, but they did not because Harper woke up with flulike symptoms, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. It doesn’t have anything to do with the knee injury which sent him to the DL last month or the ensuing rehab, he adds.
Rain had fallen in Washington, D.C. on August 12 ahead of the Nationals’ game against the Giants. Harper attempted to beat out a ground out to first base but slipped on the wet first base bag and was later diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Harper was in the midst of a great season prior to the injury, perhaps one that would have led to an NL MVP Award. When he comes back, he’ll do what he can to pad his .326/.419/.614 slash line along with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances. The Nationals are just concerned with getting him back in the flow of things in time for the playoffs. They have seven games remaining in the regular season.
Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”
Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”
Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”
Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).