Jenks out as closer? We've seen this before

Yup, Bobby Jenks turned another statement win into a heartbreaking loss during this road trip, throwing unimpressive two-seamers and flat sliders to his demise against the Mariners on Wednesday night.  Lest we spill too much virtual ink and real vomit, allow me to attempt to quell concerns with two points.
No. 1:  It was extra innings against Seattle. Last season, the Sox lost not one, but two games to the Mariners in 14 innings.  Maybe they’re a less threatening version of the Twins.
No. 2:  It’s a rerun. Earlier this season, even.  Jenks was worse for longer, and he bounced back.
A difference in opinion has also happened before.  Ozzie Guillen says the closer job is open after watching Jenks’ fastball settle in the low ’90s:

“Right now, I tell you how I feel. That’s part of the game. In the meanwhile, we fight hard. I feel for him, like everyone else here. We win together, we lose together. But in the meanwhile, I wish he’d throw the ball better because of the last couple outings. Not because we lose the game, but because I don’t see anything on the ball.”

Whereas Jenks said his dip in velocity was due to throwing sinkers.
Either way, the last time this took place, Ozzie Guillen used Matt Thornton to take a batter in the ninth, and everybody eventually recovered.  J.J. Putz wasn’t his current self at that point, either, so Guillen has another way he can go, too.
But I’m not inclined to make too much of it.  Public displays of tough love are standards of practice when it comes to an often-indignant Jenks, and as fragile as his entire existence as a closer has been over the last few years, he’s surprisingly resilient.  But if he never returns to his June self, it’s not like the Sox are screwed.  If it allows Guillen to be freely flexible with his late-inning options, this entire episode may be a blessing in disguise.
Here’s a more interesting question to me: How well does Erick Threets have to throw to keep Chris Sale off his tail?
Guillen wasn’t exactly managing this game to win, which is another reason why I’m not inclined to get all that upset about the developments.  He had long-term implications in mind for this one, and he intended to go without Thornton and Putz if at all possible, and so he turned to Erick Threets instead for the dirty left-handed work.
And man, Threets was good.
There are a couple of obvious disclaimers. Seattle has no offense, and the 9-3 double play was more luck than skill, even if he did half the job by breaking Milton Bradley’s bat.
Let’s not over-qualify his performance, though.  Striking out the side in the 10th inning was all him.  That backdoor 3-2 slider he threw to Justin Smoak leading off the inning was an immaculately executed pitch, and he completely manhandled Ryan Langerhans, too.  At this point, the biggest tragedy of Wednesday night’s events is that Jenks denied Threets a well-deserved first major-league win.
It was a great night of work, making it four successful outings in five so far.  That isn’t enough to start penciling him in for high-leverage work, but he’s given some reason to believe he’s a clear step up from RAAAAAAAAAANDY, Boone Logan, Horacio Ramirez, Mike Myers, and every other second lefty that the Sox have cast by the wayside.
If he continues on this path toward reliable competence, it’ll be interesting to see what happens if Sale pitches well at Charlotte. Obviously, it’d be great if the Sox didn’t have to start his service time two months after they drafted him, and also spared us the hand-wringing over whether this is detrimental towards his long-term development.
On the other hand, Sale signed early — and relatively cheaply — with the idea that he had inroads to the 25-man roster if he retired minor-league hitters with ease in short stints.  If he ended up blocked by what could be a run-of-the-mill journeyman having the best stretch of his career, whose interest would get higher priority?
Minor league roundup:

  • Charlotte 2, Louisville 1
    • Tyler Flowers walked once and struck out three times.
    • Brent Morel went 0-for-4 with an RBI.
    • Alejandro De Aza singled, doubled and walked over four PAs.
    • Jeff Marquez was effective: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
    • Jhonny Nunez struck out three and walked one over two scoreless innings.
  • Kinston 5, Winston-Salem 1
    • Brandon Short went 2-for-2 and was hit by a pitch.
    • Jon Gilmore was 1-for-4.
  • Greenville 4, Kannapolis 1
    • Kyle Colligan went 1-for-3 with a walk.
    • Nick Ciolli doubled, singled and struck out twice.
    • Tyler Saladino was 0-for-4 with a K, and so was Miguel Gonzalez.
  • Greeneville 5, Bristol 1
    • Daniel Black doubled twice and struck out once over four ABs.
  • Casper 8, Great Falls 1
    • Andy Wilkins (two K’s) and Ross Wilson went 1-for-4.
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Are we in this thing to win it or not, because Kenny and Ozzie are gonna have some big boy decesions to make real damn soon.
1. Jenks in or out as closer, putz and thornton are more then capable replacements, I admit the pen sets up better with jenks as closer but two horrendous outings in save situations hurts and Jenks has been garbage in tie games and with non save situations.
2. If we go get Chris Sale why the hell would Threets be the odd man out, wouldnt it be Linebrink? Its time to worry about wins not contracts. In “The Club” one of the first scenese Kenny and Ozzie are discussing how they want three lefties in the pen, there you go!
3. Mark Teahen is going to have to be told to stay home, or in the minors for as long as possible, and when his health forces him to return it better be to the bench with the occasional DH duties cause Mark Kotsay is still brutal.
4. Pulling the trigger on a trade. Any trade involving Hudson is a giant risk, but the sox do need that lefty bat pretty badly.


PS, can Hawk Harrelson please for the love of christ have some objectivity when mark kotsay hits the ball. The stats dont fucking lie the guy is awful not unlucky. He hits a ground ball that should be a double play, and its a rocket that should be a hit, he hits a ball hard at someone it should be a hit, he hits a slow roller at someone or he just missed it. FUCK, get over it hawk he isnt that good


My favorite Kotsay stat? .140 with runners in scoring position. One freakin forty for a guy that’s constantly batting behind out two best on base guys. I realize when quentins out it hurts our flexability but watching that kotsay/andruw/aj display is somewhat sickening.


hahahaha come on man, thats the hardest 140 i have ever seen in all my years of baseball, just ask hawk


For a trade, how about Lyle Overbay? Vs. righties he is hitting .271/.363/.449 this year, so he would be a good semi-platoon candidate. His price would be next to nothing as he has not been impressive overall and the Jays could use the salary relief.


Trade Jenks now for a lefty hitter. It’s been fun for 5 years but he is now on the downside and not worth what we are paying him.
Can we send Teahen on some kind of sabbatical till Sept??
Bring up Sale in Sept (if he’s ready) and cut bait with Linebrink. If we find a taker for Jenks the money is about a wash.


Knoxfire-Point 4
Some of the discussion that involves moving both Hudson and Beckham for Fielder is downright silly. you are weakening two spots on you roster to fill a DH spot, plus your mortgaging your future. In addition, if the goal is to win the world series, assuming the team gets that far, keep in mind that in four of the seven ganes the DH will not be used. That said, as move further and further into the season, the reluctance of addressing the lefty DH spot in the off season is really pissing me off. Could it be that so much money was committed to Peavy and Rios that Kenny found himself tapped out and unable to make further moves?
The Sox do need a lefty bat,but perhaps they can shoot a bit lower and possibly move Jenks, to get one, though given Bobby’s recent woes, his stock is probably nor very high right now. Again, it’s a DH we’re talking about here. DON’T OVERPAY TO GET ONE!


Agree 100%
That’s why we need to move Jenks now to free up a few bucks for a legit DH.


The only way we’re getting Jenks’ salary back right now is to put him on waivers. It’s unlikely that anyone is going to trade something of value for him and pick up a significant part of his salary.


noone is trading hudson and beckham, noone


Just some thoughts:
– 2 for 39, 2 RBI, 1BB and 9 SO. Those are some of the combined stats of our number 5-7 hitters (namely Kotsay, Jones, and Pyerzynski). Jones can still get some outs with that glove of his and he was the only true replacement that we could use to replace Quentin. Pyerzynski still has a death grip on the catcher role so he is a guaranteed a spot in the lineup. Now, Kotsay, I don’t know what type of voodoo magic he is working on Ozzie but he is still getting a large share of at bats even after being almost entirely futile. Batting this three in 5-7 spots is even more of a slap in the face to our winning probability. If Ramirez and Beckham have been pretty decent lately, why not put them in there instead? It was only natural that our offense was bound to stumble if Rios and Konerko faltered at the plate, since they have bailed out Ozzie’s crappy lineups time and time again, and that slim margin of error is what we say yesterday.
– By the way, most contenders are looking for bullpen arms down the stretch and I believe Bobby has some gas left in the tank. Good relief is very hard to find this year, unless you are into guys like Kyle Farnsworth or David Aardsma. It is possible that Kenny can build a package based around Bobby, because as it is, he is probably a non-tender candidate for next year, so might as well try to get something out of it.
P.S. At what time is it appropriate to hit the panic button regarding Tyler Flowers?


Pump and dump Threets. It’s the KW mo with a pitcher – I’m sure plenty of teams are looking for left handed bullpen help, and we have Sale waiting the wings.


Him alone sure, but maybe as part of a package instead of a more long-term valueable part?
It’s not like KW hasn’t done this sort of thing before.


C’mon folks, Jenks’ ERA is now a lofty 5.09. 5.09?? For your closer??? Even when Jenks survives the ninth, he’s always putting guys on base for a little unnecessary drama.
Jenks has been on the decline for years. Just look at his numbers. His role should be minimized and god help us if that fat tub of shit is on the team next year.
As far as Kotsay, how shitty does a man have to play to get DFA’d? At least Jones makes that catch in the 9th. I can’t think of a damned thing Kotsay has done for us this year. Knox — I’d rather listen to the opposing announcers than Homer Hawk.


But he was fantastic in June. Even won the AL Reliever of the Month award.
I tried looking through his historical numbers and it is hard for me to see much in the way of trends (though I didn’t look at pitch selection). For instance, his strikeout rate is about as high as it has ever been (11 / 9 in) and twice what it was a couple years ago. He still keeps the ball in the park and during June only walked 1 in 12 innings.
It is difficult to find relievers that are consistent year after year. Look at Hoffman with the Brewers, for instance.


thanks. Paradoxical…that’s the word.


Jenks calls them sinkers, I call them fat pitches right over the heart of the plate. They don’t really move, so they’re just 93 mph meatballs right over the heart of the plate. Even the lousy Mariners hitters can hit that.
Which, of course, is why I don’t think they’re sinkers — his velo is just down again, and he’s making excuses. He had it up to 97 earlier this year, and Jenks can be an effective pitcher when his velo is up there — it’s not a coincidence that he was pitching better in that stretch. Those few mph have always made a difference — when he’s 97 or higher, he’s good. When he’s in this 93, 94 area, he gets hammered unless he has perfect command of his breaking pitches, which is rare.
And if he’s actually purposely throwing slower, it’s not working. His sinker doesn’t sink enough to be effective. Bring the cheese, Bobby, it’s what got you here in the first place.


Jenks outlying numbers are actually pretty good. He’s right in that he’s suffered from some bad luck. That said I like the closer by committee for a bit and would like to see Putz move into the role. Lets not get carried away, Jenks definitely still has value to the team and helps make a very good back end bullpen.
Stop with the trade Jenks stuff. No team is likely to trade for him without the Sox eating dollars. I’d rather have him here.


One argument about Jenks that I really have not seen too often is that I feel that he’s simply flat out stupid. I can’t expect his to make perfect pitches and covert every save opportunity but you would think after 5 years of closing he could figure out how to pitch to certain batters by now. My main gripes:
1) Early on almost like clockwork he would retire the first two batters he faced and almost afraid of issuing a free pass he lays a pitch right down the middle to start the 9th inning madness to were he was always one bloop hit away from implosion.
2) An argument I’ve seen for a long time an absolutely agree with, is their a reason why Bobby feels he needs a Roy Halladay like arsenal of pitches to record 3 outs??? Its often hard enough to gain complete control of all your pitches by only working one inning and having no time to settle in. Bobbys fastball and curve and good enough to lock down games. Do you see dancin valverde trying to throw a curve/fastball/slider/sinker/changeup/curveball combo in the 9th? No he uses the fastball to set up his splitter rather than try to get a feel for six pitches.
3) Which goes to pitch selection. I realize pitchers shouldn’t be held to some perfect standard but you would think after playing with jim thome and griffey he wouldn’t be throwing breaking balls away and hanging splitters when a good mid 90s fastball basically obliterates either player. Bobby was likely one moronic move by a 3rd base coach away from blowing another one to the twins early on in the season.


2) I just don’t think he has the same feel for that curve anymore. He’s used it less and less every year since 2006. Linear weights supports that, calling it his worst 2010 pitch.
I think he lost Uncle Charlie a while ago and still hasn’t found a suitable replacement out pitch, which is why you see him messing around with the Ryan Franklin grab bag.


This trade proposal was on Insider (password required) but from Baseball Prospectus: “The Chicago White Sox acquire DH Luke Scott and 3B Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles for SS Eduardo Escobar and RHPs Lucas Harrell and Jhonny Nunez”
Here is the commentary on the proposal:
“Tied with Oakland for ninth place in the AL in team True Average, the Sox need to punch up their offense. Obvious spots that need help are third base and DH, with Mark Teahen shelved and healing slow, and the platoon of Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay struggling to produce. Always open to a trade, Kenny Williams likes adding the occasional ex-famous person to the mix for his stretch runs — Roberto Alomar, Carl Everett, Ken Griffey Jr. — and Tejada would fit neatly within that pattern, providing the White Sox with a former MVP who might get a last lease on life at the plate while manning third base. Scott would be the more subtle addition, but his .304 TAv would provide a big dose of sock and balance. To swing the deal, the Sox would have to give the Orioles the shortstop prospect they need, and the sure-handed Escobar has elicited comparisons to Omar Vizquel for his fielding. Since Harrell and Nunez are both live arms who could help in a big league bullpen, this may seem like a lot, but Scott’s under club control through 2012, providing the Sox with a lasting answer to fill their need for a lefty power bat.”


It’s not unreasonable. It fills a need while staying away from the White Sox top ten prospects. I think it favors the Orioles though. It’s entirely possible that Tejeda is complete junk at this point and will just take up an extra roster spot without offering anything over the three guys we’ve had there this year.
The other problem is that the Sox are already so terrible in depth and this just makes it that much worse. I would rather see them aim for a different one-for-one trade if the Orioles won’t give up Scott without including Tejeda.


I listened to the game on XM so I have a couple questions for those that watched:
1. Did Jenks shake off Pierzynski at all?
2. Did Jenks hit his spots?
Just curious if Pierzynski should bear some of the blame.
MLB needs to put a sensor on a catchers glove to see how much they have to move it to catch a pitch, thus measuring the pitchers pitch accuracy.