Every year people wonder if Barry Zito is ever going to be a good pitcher again. Not a lot of people. No, those crowds disappeared several years ago. The number of people still hoping for a Zito turnaround is roughly the same as the number of those Iraq War protesters who still show up on that one corner every Saturday for some reason like it never stopped being 2003.
But for those optimistic and hearty souls, there is news. Barry Zito has a new delivery:
Barry Zito made a slight change to his delivery this winter he hopes will help him rebound from an injury-plagued season.
During the offseason, he worked on bending his front leg to get lower to the ground and speed up the momentum the ball gains traveling to the plate.
That’s great. It’d be even greater if he hadn’t done this before. Like, say, in 2007, when he also said that the tweak in his delivery was to create more “momentum” in his fastball. Then in 2008 when he changed his arm slot. Then in 2010 when he changed his arm slot again. Then in 2011 when he did it again.
Hey, maybe this time he has figured it out. I just think it’s way more likely that “he changed his delivery” or “he altered his arm slot” is empty Barry Zito-ese designed to either give fans or himself some sort of hope that something different will happen this year. Finally.
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.
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.