Well, Matt Thornton might be slightly happier after the Chicago White Sox reliever was named the closer by manager Ozzie Guillen on Saturday.
I talked to Thornton. I said he would get the chance to be the closer. A good percent of the time, he will be the guy. Matt Thornton earned it. We have a lot of confidence [in him]. He is the guy [who] can do the job better. [Chris] Sale, we [would] have to put a lot of things on his shoulders. This kid pitched well last season, but we would put a lot of pressure on him to be the closer.
It seemed to be a joke that Thornton, who filled in beyond admirably as closer for the last month of the year after Bobby Jenks hit the Disabled List, would be in competition with Chris Sale for the job. For the last three years, Thornton has been arguably the best non-closing reliever in baseball, striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings, putting up a K/BB ratio above four and maintaining a FIP and ERA below 2.75. Thornton is also a rare example of a pitcher whose fastball actually increases in velocity as he gets older, averaging 92.8 mph in his rookie season, and now coming in regularly at over 96 mph.
While the future is promising for Sale, the young left hander and his mid nineties fastball couldn’t exhibit the same type of command as Thornton in his 20 games in the Majors last season. While I’d hate to think that it played a part in the decision, Sale has also underperformed during Spring Training games.
Thornton signed a two year extension with the White Sox earlier this Spring and is almost certain to provide great value over the course of the $12 million deal, with a $6 million option for a third year.
And The Rest
Baseball blogger Murray Chass’ ongoing mission to ruin any shred of credibility remaining in his career takes yet another turn.
Joe Posnanski writes about his mother’s basement after another columnist writes yet another ignorant article.
There’s no certainty that Tim Wakefield will make the Boston Red Sox roster.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon gives a racist fan the boot.
The New York Times gives a preview of the Barry Bonds case, featuring the lawyers on both sides. Meanwhile, a West Coast writer continues to push his own agenda when it comes to Bonds, this time writing an open letter (how creative) to Gregg Anderson pleading with him to testify against the former San Francisco Giant.
There’s apparently a simple fix for the Pirates and their defensive woes. Finally, a team is interested in using cybernetic organisms.
I know it’s not really anyone in this article’s style to do so, but wouldn’t it be cool to stop for one second and consider that maybe Albert Pujols comes across as such a good clutch hitter because, well, he’s a good hitter, clutch or not?
If only there were two of Neftali Feliz.
Brian Wilson has strained his oblique. #PlanBetter
A local Boston writer thinks that a Boston player is even better than the rest of Boston thinks he is.
Jesse Levis, a scout who was accused of committing lewd acts in front of minors, is being given a second chance by the Philadelphia Phillies.
If tweets are to be believed, Pat Neshek has joined the San Diego Padres.
Charlie Manuel believes that the Phillies’ aging lineup might be a cause for concern. In other news, Google is a very useful online search engine.
Hey look, is it another thinly veiled reference to the distractions of Rhianna in a Matt Kemp article?