J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton headed to the disabled list

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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. 

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

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Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.