Shannon Stone’s wife issues statement of thanks

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Jenny Stone, the wife of firefighter Shannon Stone, issued a statement of thanks Tuesday in the Brownwood Bulletin, showing appreciation for all of those, including the Rangers, who have helped in a time of need.

It reads:

Monday we said goodbye to a wonderful man. Shannon was truly a great husband, father, son, brother, uncle, firefighter, and friend. While we have been overwhelmed with sadness by his death, we have also been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and sympathy that we have received, from complete strangers as far away as New Zealand, to the former president of the United States of America, to our closest friends and family. While we will never forget that horrible night, we also will never forget the gentleman from Hawley, Texas, who protected Cooper that evening and came to pay his respects on Sunday. We will never forget the new friend Shannon, Cooper and I had just made on our recent camping trip to Destin, Florida, who traveled from Louisiana to pay his respects. We will never forget all the firefighters and policemen and women and hospital staff who were there that night. We are incredibly thankful for the outpouring of love from Shannon’s brother firefighters, the City of Brownwood, First United Methodist Church, Texas Motor Speedway, firefighters from all over Texas, and from everyone in our community who brought food, stopped by, stood on the roadside and blessed us with prayers. And, of course, we have been supported and held up by our family and friends, who have stayed by our side for the last four days. Thank you is not enough, but we are truly thankful.

We are also thankful for Nolan Ryan, Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers, the Rangers fans, and all baseball fans, which have showed such concern and compassion. While I was certainly surprised to hear Nolan Ryan on my phone on Friday morning, I was not surprised that he would act just like we all see him, as a true Texas gentleman. Josh Hamilton remains Cooper’s favorite baseball player, the Texas Rangers will always be our team, and baseball will always be our favorite game.

Again, we are so very thankful, appreciative, and overwhelmed by all of the support we have received. Shannon loved going to watch the Rangers and he loved Cooper. And, at the very end, he lived life to its fullest, doing something he loved.

Agent: Nick Senzel’s reassigment ‘egregious case of service time manipulation’

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Reds prospect Nick Senzel is ready for the majors. Although he battled injuries, the 23-year-old performed well with Triple-A Louisville last season, batting .310/.378/.509 with 20 extra-base hits, 25 RBI, 23 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 193 plate appearances. Senzel has also performed well this spring, batting .308 across 39 at-bats.

The Reds, however, announced on Friday that Senzel was among a handful of players reassigned to minor league camp. Senzel was drafted as a third baseman, began playing second base last year, and had been playing in center field during spring training. The common thought is that the Reds, who have built a competitive roster, will keep Senzel at Triple-A to begin the season and call him up right after the club secures an extra year of contractual control.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Senzel’s agent Joel Wolfe calls Senzel’s reassignment an “egregious case of service time manipulation.” The full quote:

I don’t believe I’ve ever made public statements on this issue in my career, but I feel compelled to do so in this case where it feels like a simply egregious case of service time manipulation.

We are well aware of the mandate from ownership for the Reds to win this year — and this seems to fly in the face of it. The NL Central was decided by one game last year. Every game matters. This is a shortsighted move that may be frugal now but could cost them dearly later.

Nick Senzel is not a young prospect. He’s a major league-ready impact-type player. He has done everything they’ve asked this spring, including working hard to become a major league center fielder.

Nick takes pride in wearing the Reds uniform. He appreciates how much support he’s received from Reds fans. He’s going to go to Triple-A and prove every day he belongs in MLB.

We have covered the service time manipulation issue pretty extensively here, so Wolfe’s statement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Prior to an injury, the Blue Jays were going to undeservingly stuff Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. — baseball’s No. 1 prospect — at Triple-A for the first two weeks or so of the season. The White Sox were going to do the same with Eloy Jiménez before using their leverage to nudge him into inking an extension. The Braves toyed with Ronald Acuña Jr.’s playing time last year. Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco filed respective grievances against the Cubs and Phillies for service time manipulation several years ago.

Team executives don’t outright admit to gaming a prospect’s service time to gain that extra year of control because that’s how one loses a grievance. They dance around the topic by making a nebulous claim, typically about the player’s defense needing to be worked on at Triple-A. That’s what the Cubs said about Bryant, and it’s what the Jays said about Guerrero. It’s a subjective enough evaluation that it can’t be falsified. It’s why the grievances that have been filed over this have fizzled out and it’s why more and more teams have brazenly joined the service time manipulation bandwagon.

Senzel’s case is, admittedly, a bit more murky. Though he performed well this spring, Scott Schebler has outperformed him, batting .379 with five extra-base hits and 11 walks in roughly 40 trips to the plate. The starting spot in right field is taken by Yasiel Puig and left field is taken by Jesse Winker. Schebler has ostensibly earned the starting job in center. I can’t imagine Wolfe having a compelling case if he were to file a grievance on Senzel’s behalf.

That being said, it is important that agents (and the MLBPA) speak out about this when they can. Senzel’s case may not be open-and-shut, but bringing service time manipulation into the public consciousness will have a lasting impact ahead of the December 2021 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. Holding team executives publicly accountable may make them less willing to manipulate their players’ service time going forward, as it may sour what could otherwise be a terrific relationship between team and player. Service time manipulation is an important piece of the labor puzzle and those on the players’ side have to seize whatever they can to potentially gain leverage. Awareness leads to solidarity.