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Friday, June 11, 2010
Personnel shuffle elevates Robinson

By Jayson Stark
ESPN.com

Major League Baseball shuffled its Baseball Operations Department on Friday. And when the shuffling was finished, it appeared to leave Hall of Famer Frank Robinson overseeing baseball's embattled umpires.

Robinson was named baseball's senior vice president of major-league operations, working under John McHale Jr., who was appointed as interim executive vice president of major-league operations. Their duties also will include supervising international baseball and security.

However, indications are that the most significant impact of the change will be to install Robinson as the strongest voice that baseball has had overseeing umpires since the departure of Sandy Alderson in 2005.

Jimmie Lee Solomon, who had previously been in charge of MLB operations, was given a new job, as executive vice president of a newly created department of baseball development. That department will primarily be involved with the running and development of baseball academies, as well as minor-league operations.

That move will free and McHale and Robinson to take a hard look at umpiring, which has become a hot topic of conversation this year both inside and outside the MLB offices. But McHale will continue to serve as MLB's executive vice president of administration, meaning he will have a lot on his plate. So while Robinson will report to him and work with him, it appears commissioner Bud Selig is empowering Robinson to be tough and vocal with umpires about issues that he feels strongly about.

Robinson, who has been serving as a special assistant to Selig, has a reputation as a baseball man with strong opinions and no reservations about expressing them. So this appointment is a clear sign that the commissioner is concerned that umpires have gotten too free a reign in recent years.

Mike Port, who has served as baseball's vice president of umpiring, will also work with Robinson and McHale, in the wake of Friday's shuffle.

Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.