A's Sheets roughed up by minor leaguers

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spt-story-ben-sheets-100325.standard[1].jpgThe Associated Press reported that Ben Sheets got his world rocked again on Thursday, this time by some minor leaguers in a game in Phoenix.

Oakland’s prized free-agent signee, who has struggled mightily this spring, allowed three runs and nine hits in six-plus innings. His changeup was poor, and he allowed several hard-hit balls, including a two-run home run.

It was also, however, Sheets’ best outing of the spring, and Susan Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle had a slightly more positive spin:

Nevertheless, Sheets accomplished what he wanted to, getting in a lot of innings and 85 pitches. His fastball hit 92 mph, according to A’s minor-league pitcher Matt Wright, manning the radar gun and charting pitches today.

Sheets will make his final start before the regular season on Tuesday, and he’s not concerned about his mediocre to occasionally disastrous (10 batters faced, none retired) spring results. Since he hasn’t pitched in more than a year, the main thing is that he’s healthy and that he gets in his work. He always has awful springs, he said, and Sheets seems like a fellow who knows himself pretty well. He’s known for his bulldog mentality, and those guys tend to be able to turn it on when the games mean something.

That take certainly holds a fair amount of logic and sounds very good. And I realize you can’t always put much stock in spring training results, when you’ll often see pitchers just working on improving a particular pitch or on hitting a particular location. But with the season nearly here the time for tinkering is over, and Sheets has been really bad this spring. The A’s can’t feel too confident on handing $10 million to a struggling pitcher who hasn’t pitched when “the games mean something” since 2008.

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Giants sign catcher Nick Hundley

DENVER, CO - JUNE 07:  Nick Hundley #4 of the Colorado Rockies takes an at bat against the Miami Marlins at Coors Field on June 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports that the Giants have signed catcher Nick Hundley. It’s a major league deal worth $2 million.

Hundley, who is 33, but who seems like he’s been in the bigs for about 27 years, hit .260/.320/.439 with 10 homers in 83 games for the Rockies last season. Obviously he will be the backup given the presence of Buster Posey.

MLB reorganizes its diversity and social responsibility leadership structure

Billy Bean
Associated Press
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Major League Baseball has experienced inconsistent progress in its efforts at promoting diversity and social responsibility in recent years despite making it a league priority.  Today it has announced several changes in its leadership structure in these areas, with Commissioner Manfred saying, “As the sport of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, we have a responsibility to uphold and honor their legacies, especially in ensuring that our sport and business practices are as inclusive, diverse and socially-conscious as possible.”

To that end:

  • Billy Bean has been promoted to Vice President and Special Assistant to the Commissioner. This is a newly-created and elevated position in which Bean will continue his efforts at promoting human rights issues important to Major League Baseball, with a particular focus on LGBT and anti-bullying efforts. He has done such work since 2014 as its Ambassador for Inclusion, but putting him at the vice presidential level and having him answer directly to Commissioner Manfred increases his profile and that of his mission;
  • Renée Tirado, has been promoted to Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Diversity & Inclusion. Tirado had previously served as Senior Director of Recruitment. She will direct the implementation of recruitment plans and procedures to support MLB’s staffing objectives and will oversee MLB’s Diversity Pipeline Program. As you may recall, Major League Baseball has struggled mightily in these effort in recent years, and has admitted as much; and
  • Melanie LeGrande has been promoted to Vice President of Social Responsibility. She previously served as MLB’s Director of Community Affairs. Her job will be to develop and enhance the initiatives that support MLB’s position in the community and oversee MLB’s community investments, nonprofit/non-governmental organization partnerships, large-scale disaster relief efforts and employee volunteer engagement.

Manfred said, “the promotions of Billy, Renée and Melanie reflect our commitment to have strong, innovative leadership in place that aligns our industry objectives with a desire to be effective corporate citizens.”

While all of these are current employees who have served in roughly similar roles. A business’ organizational chart says much about how much that business values various functions and initiatives. In keeping with Manfred’s comments, that all three of these people have been promoted to the vice presidential level is a strong signal from MLB about what it wants.

Now all it has to do is follow through and get what it wants.