Diamondbacks did well trading Edwin Jackson to White Sox

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Speculation that the White Sox may have acquired Edwin Jackson to “flip” him to the Nationals for Adam Dunn makes it hard to properly evaluate the deal from Chicago’s point of view yet, but there’s no need to hold off in saying Arizona did extremely well to get pitching prospects Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg for Jackson.
I was underwhelmed by the Diamondbacks’ haul for Dan Haren, but Jackson is a much different story. Some teams remain convinced that Jackson has ace potential because at times he unleashes overpowering raw stuff, which was on full display when he no-hit the Rays last month. Of course, the no-hitter also included eight walks and Jackson has been awful overall this season, going 6-10 with a 5.16 ERA and 104/60 K/BB ratio in 134.1 innings.
Jackson hasn’t pitched quite as poorly as that ugly ERA suggests, but he’s a soon-to-be 27-year-old with a 4.74 career ERA and has posted an ERA under 4.40 exactly once. He’s also owed for $8.25 million next season, which makes him an overpaid mid-rotation starter and makes unloading his contract plenty valuable for the Diamondbacks by itself. That they were able to clear Jackson’s salary off the books and get a pair of useful prospects is a great move, particularly since Hudson is a decent bet to out-perform Jackson in 2011 while making $400,000.
Hudson was so-so in 34 innings with the White Sox, but the former fifth-round pick has an excellent minor-league track record that includes a 2.79 ERA and 195/50 K/BB ratio in 174 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s ready to step right into Jackson’s rotation spot and is under team control through 2015. At just 19 years old Holmberg is nowhere near the majors, but he was a second-round pick last June and Baseball America ranked him as the White Sox’s eighth-best prospect coming into the season.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.