Votes of confidence from team brass are superficially nice I suppose, but they often are the harbingers of a manager hitting the unemployment line. It’s probably a correlation/causation issue as you don’t get them unless your team stinks anyway. There is a reason why votes of confidence are often prefaced with “dreaded.” You really don’t want to be in the position to get one in the first place.
That’s what happened with Robin Ventura on Friday night, however, with Kenny Williams doing the voting. From Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com:
On Friday, Williams, the White Sox executive vice president, said he doesn’t believe the White Sox manager or his staff is to blame for the team’s struggles. Ventura had said earlier Friday he feels he has strong support from Williams, general manager Rick Hahn and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, all of who he’s in constant contact with. Ventura joked that Williams’ approval could be seen as a “kiss of death” before noting his appreciation.
Guess we’ll see. The White Sox loaded up on talent in the offseason, trading for Jeff Samardzija and signing David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Zach Duke, Emilio Bonifacio and Geovany Soto. Despite that they stand at 32-41 which is good for last place in the AL Central.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.