White Sox ink Jenks, Quentin to one-year deals

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Thumbnail image for bobby jenks white sox.jpgThe White Sox and reliever Bobby Jenks avoided arbitration on Saturday by agreeing to a one-year, $7.5 million contract.
Jenks, who turns 29 in March, will receive a $1.9 million raise over a
2009 season that saw him post a 3.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 27 saves in 35
chances.

Jenks fought a very public battle with the White Sox over the past few
months about his conditioning, a conflict some thought could lead to
him possibly being traded or even non-tendered in December. Amid
concerns about his weight, Jenks was sidelined during the season with
kidney stones and missed the final 12 games of the season with a
strained calf muscle.

2009 was mostly a reversal of fortunes for Jenks, as his strikeout rate
rebounded (8.27 K/9 from 5.55 K/9 in 2008) and he saw some more
giddy-up on his fastball, but he gave up a career-high nine home runs
in 53 1/3 innings, ultimately inflating his ERA. Pretty fluky, really,
since he’s primarily a groundball pitcher. Still, the conditioning angle is
something to watch this spring, as the White Sox have Matt Thornton and
J.J. Putz at the ready should Jenks continue to fall out of favor in
the organization.

The White Sox also avoided arbitration with outfielder Carlos Quentin
on Saturday by agreeing to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. Limited
to just 99 games last season due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot,
the 27-year-old Quentin batted .236/.323/.456 with 21 homers and 56 RBI.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.