I’ve been asked before why I often suggest that Bud Selig is disingenuous about things like, say, the fans’ appetite for instant replay, the status of the committee working feverishly on solving the Athletics/San Jose problem and the state of baseball’s finances and stuff.
At bottom, it’s a general credibility problem. Caused by stuff like this:
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig insists he will retire after the 2014 season when his contract ends … He said “nobody believes it” but he’ll be done in 2 years, despite sentiment he’ll stay until 2016 to pass Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the game’s longest-serving boss.
It’s his right to keep the job as long as his employers will have him. And, despite our dissatisfaction with the way he handles some things, I would argue that he has been an excellent commissioner overall. At least when measured by his performance at the job he was hired to do as opposed to do the job that fans like to fantasize the commissioner has.*
But really, this marks the 3,405,265th time Selig has claimed he will retire. I wish him no ill will whatsoever when I say this — indeed, I intend it as a tribute to his effectiveness in the job, popularity within the game and his still-sharp skills and tenacity — but if I had to bet my 401K on any future development, “Bud Selig dying in office” would be high on the list of candidates.
*Really. It’s not the commissioner’s job to be some sage and noble George Washington figure. It’s his job to be a steward and promoter of the game who makes money for the owners (and indirectly the players) and keeps them from fighting with one another. But even with the job being that basic, so many have failed one way or another. Fay Vincent was well-intentioned but feckless. Peter Ueberroth hatched a criminal conspiracy. Bart Giamatti, sadly, didn’t get a chance to really do anything. Bowie Kuhn was a retrograde defender of the reserve clause and helped sow nearly 30 years of labor strife. It’s a low bar to hurdle when it comes to running baseball, but Selig has really cleared it by any measure.
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.
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.