Daily Dose: McGowan's career in danger?

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Dustin McGowan emerged as one of the AL’s most promising young pitchers
by winning 14 games with a 3.62 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 32 starts
from mid-2007 to mid-2008, but began struggling following a 125-pitch
outing last June and had season-ending shoulder surgery a month later.
His recovery has gone poorly and general manager J.P. Ricciardi hinted
Wednesday that his career is in jeopardy.

“He’s not where he should be from a rehab standpoint,” Ricciardi
noted. “I don’t know if he’s never going to throw again, but right now
he’s struggling.” Toronto’s pitching staff has been wrecked by all
kinds of injuries during the past two years, but losing a young
right-hander with a mid-90s fastball who missed plenty of bats and
induced quite a few ground balls is perhaps the biggest long-term blow.

While the Blue Jays somehow become the fifth MLB team to win 40 games, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Injuring his elbow in the World Baseball Classic didn’t stop Matt
Lindstrom from averaging the usual 96 miles per hour with his fastball,
but he hasn’t looked right since. Last season Lindstrom allowed 21 runs
and 26 walks in 57.1 innings. This year he gave up 22 runs and 20 walks
in just 29 innings before the Marlins stuck him on the disabled list
Wednesday with a sprained right elbow.

Florida worked Lindstrom awfully hard despite the WBC scare, using
him in both games of a doubleheader last month and on three straight
days twice in the past four weeks. Now he’s been shut down for at least
a month and most likely will be sidelined well into August. Leo Nunez
is the obvious choice to replace him in the ninth inning, assuming that
his current ankle injury doesn’t linger for very long.

* Edinson Volquez had been making steady progress in his recovery
from elbow tendinitis, but has been shut down after an MRI exam showed
inflammation. He’ll be examined again next week, but now seems highly
unlikely to return before the All-Star break. With his recovery
timetable being delayed the Reds now have an excuse to give Homer
Bailey an extended rotation tryout beginning Saturday.

Bailey was a mess in past stints with the Reds and his prospect
stock is nowhere near where it once was, but he’s still just 23 years
old and is 5-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 40/10 K/BB ratio in six starts since
his latest demotion to Triple-A. This is his third go-around at
Triple-A and he’s made 45 starts there, so it may be time to let him
sink or swim while praying that he throws strikes for once.

* There’s no official diagnosis yet on Brandon Webb’s injured shoulder
following two MRI exams and he’s expected to seek a second opinion
later this week, but the Arizona Republic
reported Wednesday that “surgery appears to be a strong possibility”
while specifically speculating that he may have a torn labrum. If
that’s indeed the case, Webb is done for 2009 and perhaps most of 2010.

Note: As the first half comes to a close, we’re now offering a “Midseason Report” that includes all the outstanding content from our “Season Pass” product plus a ton of new articles, rankings, and projections tailored for the second half.

AL Quick Hits: Evan Longoria left Wednesday’s game with a
strained hamstring and missed time earlier this month with the same
injury … CC Sabathia (biceps) declared himself “good to go” following a
bullpen session Wednesday … Neftali Feliz has moved to the bullpen at
Triple-A in preparation for a second-half role
in Texas … Oakland placed Josh Outman (elbow) on the shelf Thursday,
calling up Gio Gonzalez to replace him in the rotation … Denard Span
(ear) is set to come off the disabled list Thursday … Jason Varitek has
been slumping this month, so manager Terry Francona explained Wednesday
that he’s been dealing with neck stiffness … Koji Uehera said Wednesday
that he’s in danger of missing his next start because of elbow soreness
… David Ortiz homered again Wednesday and is 18-for-55 (.327) with six
homers this month … Orlando Hernandez began his comeback by tossing a
scoreless inning out of the bullpen Tuesday at Triple-A.

NL Quick Hits: Oliver Perez (knee) estimated Wednesday that he
needs a couple more minor-league rehab starts before rejoining the Mets
… Manny Parra tossed seven innings of one-run ball in his second
Triple-A outing Tuesday, striking out Manny Ramirez … Brad Lidge (knee)
will return from the disabled list Thursday, according to general
manager Ruben Amaro Jr. … Gary Sheffield was out of the lineup for a
third straight game Wednesday after getting a cortisone shot for his
injured knee … Seth McClung has been tabbed to replace Dave Bush
(biceps) in the rotation and may have some short-term value in NL-only
leagues … Kenshin Kawakami exited Wednesday’s start after taking a Joba
Chamberlain liner off the side of his neck … General manager Neal
Huntington said Wednesday that Ian Snell will remain in the rotation
for at least one more start … David Wright stole his 19th base
Wednesday while going 4-for-4 with three runs.

Jose Bautista: “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since famous bat flip

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning in Game 5 of baseball's American League Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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Arguably the most memorable moment of the 2015 season came in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers. The game was tied 3-3, but the Jays were threatening with runners on the corners and two outs. Jose Bautista launched a 1-1 Sam Dyson fastball for a no-doubt tie-breaking three-run home run that would send the Jays into the ALCS to face the eventual world champion Royals.

Bautista didn’t immediately run to first base after hitting the home run. He admired it, looked at Dyson, and then flipped his bat triumphantly. As far as bat flips go, it was a 10 out of 10. Yasiel Puig was proud.

The six-time All-Star admitted “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since that moment in the ALDS, as Jonah Birenbaum notes for The Score. Bautista also served as the assistant coach for musician Drake at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. As Drew noted earlier, Bautista had a pretty nice view at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest as well.

The Jays are hopeful to sign Bautista, 35, to a multi-year extension. In six seasons since breaking out with the club in 2010, he has hit .268/.390/.555 with 227 home runs and 582 RBI in 3,604 plate appearances. No one has hit more home runs since the start of the 2010 season, as Miguel Cabrera is the closest at 199. And only Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, and Albert Pujols have driven in more runs in that span of time. It’s easy to see why, despite his age, the Jays want to keep Bautista around a little while longer.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.