MLB denies Twitter crackdown, but facts say otherwise

17 Comments

After posting my story last night about MLB.com writers being banned from using Twitter for non-baseball topics and MLB players being told their tweets will be monitored, I was contacted by a spokesperson for MLB who essentially said I was 100 percent wrong. In fact, he went so far as to say my story was so “factually inaccurate” it had the good folks at MLB “mystified by all of this.”
Prior to posting the story I spoke to multiple MLB and MLB.com employees, each of whom made it very clear that the beat reporters were told to cease using their current Twitter accounts for anything other than coverage of the team. Several MLB.com writers even made announcements to that effect on their Twitter pages, although within hours those messages had (coincidentally, I’m sure) been deleted.
Beyond that, it was the talk of press boxes across baseball last night, with dozens of non-MLB.com beat writers tweeting about the fact that their MLB.com colleagues could no longer post non-baseball notes on Twitter. White Sox third baseman Mark Teahen also spoke to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times about the players angle. In other words, the notion that my story could have possibly “mystified” anyone at MLB was absurd and struck me as an attempt to mislead.
Eventually the MLB spokesperson pulled back the reins a bit on the denial, but still insisted that no policy changes have been made. That flies in the face of everything I was told by multiple sources involved, all the notes posted on Twitter last night by both MLB.com and non-MLB.com reporters discussing the issue, and the fact that several MLB.com beat writers chose last night to create new, personal Twitter accounts.
I asked MLB for an official statement, but they refused and simply continued to insist my story was inaccurate. If and when they’d like to clarify things on the record I’m willing to clarify, update, or correct my reporting, but in the meantime what’s going on here seems rather obvious and I’m more than comfortable letting things speak for themselves.
UPDATE: In addition to deleting any tweets about the Twitter ban issue, MLB.com writers have now deleted their posts about creating new, personal Twitter accounts. Just another coincidence, I’m sure.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images
3 Comments

The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
7 Comments

The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.