TCS Morning Whatever

1. Almost exactly two years ago, the White Sox announced they were hiring Oakland A's roving minor league hitting instructor Todd Steverson to be their major league hitting coach. Per Susan Slusser, they have picked Oakland A's minor league hitting coordinator Greg Sparks to be the assistant hitting coach.

Like most White Sox moves, I am haphazardly alternating between praise and snark until I can properly calibrate myself:

--Seems like a good hire!

--Leave it to the White Sox to have a certain rigidity even to their rare out-of-organization hires.

--What did the A's do to deserve such pilfering?

--This seems like an aggressive double-down on Steverson, who has great pedigree and seems competent but has had mixed results at best in his big development projects.

-Actually, if they're going to go with the two hitting coach approach, might as well have two guys on the same page with a history of working together.

Sparks really, really, really has the credentials to be an MLB hitting coach by his lonesome. Before his most recent role, he was the A's Triple-A affiliate hitting coach for three years, and the minor league hitting coordinator again before that from 2004-11. 

Well respected around the organization, ‘Sparky’ has helped build the A’s organizational hitting philosophy and has had a close hand in the development of several big leaguers, including Josh Donaldson, Michael Choice, Grant Green and Chris Carter. Sparks has been with the A’s as a coach since 1997.
— Melissa Lockard

So, yeah, sure, he can help.

2. There's a second Cleveland Indians in the American League! Alex Anthopoulos stepped down as the Toronto Blue Jays General Manager on the same day he won MLB Executive of the Year honors. Speculation that friction with new team president Mark Shapiro could be to blame were, nearly immediately confirmed.

Reaction to this from a city that just saw a dream season that returned the playoffs to Toronto for the first time in 20 years, well, Shapiro might have gotten more approval if he had shot Anthopoulos on live television.

Shapiro is a sharp baseball mind and earned a lot respect for making what he could out of the Indians' limited resources, but it would be a substantial step back if these Blue Jays started operating that way.

3. The Marlins also pushed out their GM Thursday, but probably feel better about it. They fired Dan Jennings after a truly bizarre season that he spent most of serving as manager for whatever damn reason. Fittingly bizarre was the sticking point between him and owner Jeffrey Loria.

Ozuna wasn't actually a rookie, but is young enough that it's more likely that Jennings wasn't compliant in Professional Cheapskate Jeffrey Loria's plan to play service time games with the talented young outfielder than he personally offended him somehow. Instead, Jennings gave Ozuna plenty of plate appearances in a lost season.

He didn't hit very well in 2015, but turns 25 in December with a career 101 wRC+, experience in center and good power potential still. If he's getting run out of town on the cheap, an Ozuna-Eaton-Thompson outfield would catch a lot of flyballs with relatively ease.

4. Future Sox has a wrap-up of Arizona Fall League action. Adam Engel and Jake Peter have started hot, and oft-injured, former fourth-round pick right-hander Brandon Brennan has allowed two runs and struck out seven over nine innings. The best prospect there is Trey Michalczewski, and he's barely playing.

5. In today's edition of Making Peace with the Friggin' Royals Winning the World Series, consider Alex Rios, who waited 12 seasons and 6929 MLB plate appearances for his first taste of playoff action, and has been making the most of it, hitting .308/.357/.436 punctuated by big RBI hits in the ALDS and ALCS. As Jon Heyman put it, Rios has been saddled with the reputation of being a "soft pretty boy," but in the midst of one his worst offensive seasons, and at a stage of his career where he's getting pulled for a defensive replacement in the later innings, he seems comfortable serving as a role player, and still has his silky smooth right-handed stroke, even if it can't find the left field bleachers much anymore.