Bobby Jenks is essentially back as Ozzie Guillen’s closer, but he didn’t get there without a body count. J.J. Putz re-injured his right knee last night against the Orioles and Matt Thornton hasn’t appeared in a game since last Tuesday’s due to soreness in his forearm. After last night’s 7-5 win, Guillen told the Chicago Sun-Times that both pitchers were going to be placed on the disabled list.
”Well, Thornton is down, Putz is down, we’ve got to add two guys,”
Guillen said. ”I need some guys that can go out there. I’m not saying
we’re in trouble, but everyone in the bullpen has to pick it up a notch
for at least the next seven days because we won’t have Thornton. We have
to step it up a notch. We’ll figure it out.”
Putz underwent an MRI on Monday which revealed no structural damage in the knee, however last night was the second time in his last three appearances that he was forced to leave a game due to injury. The 33-year-old right-hander has allowed seven runs — six earned — over his last 5 2/3 innings (9.53 ERA) after giving up just eight runs over his first 41 1/3 innings this season, so it’s clear something just isn’t right with him.
As for Thornton, he also underwent an MRI on Monday which showed no structural damage in his forearm and elbow area, however he did have some receive an injection to dry up fluid in the affected area. According to Scott Merkin of MLB.com, Thornton said before last night’s game that he likely wouldn’t be available to pitch until next week’s series against the Indians, so there’s no use in wasting a roster spot any longer.
It comes at a tough time for the White Sox, who enter play Wednesday 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Twins in the American League Central. Their depleted bullpen will surely be tested during a three-game series against the Yankees this weekend.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.