White Sox’ closer Bobby Jenks has taken all kinds of heat from the front office over his weight since the end of the season. A season, mind you, which was interrupted but bouts with kidney stones, a
strained calf muscle and some other ailments which, if you believe Kenny Williams, were basically fat guy injuries. The Sox — while bringing in J.J. Putz to put some pressure on him — decided to give him one last chance, however, and signed him to a $7.5 million deal for 2010. It looks like he’s making the most of his chance:
Bobby Jenks spent the last three months losing weight. The White Sox closer then spent 10 minutes in a closed-door meeting
with general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen on Friday
clearing his conscience.
”He looks the best I’ve ever seen him, and I’m really proud of this
guy,” Williams said. ”As a husband and father, he’s great around his
kids — but just sitting here and looking me and Ozzie right in the
eye, addressing the issues head-on like men, I’m proud of him. Good for
him. Sometimes you’ve got to push some buttons to ultimately get to
Those buttons caused him to lose, in Sun-Times’ writer Joe Cowley’s opinion anyway, something on the order of 30 pounds.
I still don’t think it was right for Williams to have turned Jenks’ weight into a public thing — it’s rude and unprofessional to call your own players out, and focusing on Jenks’ problems probably hurt his trade value at a time the team was listening to offers — but I suppose you can’t argue with the results.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: