Daily Dose: End of the line for Big Unit?

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Randy Johnson seemed optimistic after having his injured shoulder
examined by team doctors Monday, explaining: “I’m feeling a lot better
than I was three weeks ago” and will “have to get with the doctor and
see what he recommends and just kind of take it from there.” Less than
24 hours later his Hall of Fame career was put in serious jeopardy
following the diagnosis of a partially torn rotator cuff.

Johnson is hoping to pitch again this season, but the soon-to-be
46-year-old has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list and won’t
throw again for at least 2-3 weeks. He’s been relatively effective
while going 8-6 with a 4.81 ERA and 80/31 K/BB in 92 innings this year,
but rotator cuff injuries are incredibly tough to come back from for
26-year-olds, let alone 46-year-olds. Cooperstown class of 2015?

While one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in baseball history
could be facing the end of the line, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* Even after trading Ryan Garko the Indians inexplicably refuse to
simply call up Matt LaPorta and stick him in the lineup every day, but
in the meantime they did bring up former top prospect turned current
bust Andy Marte. Marte has had zero success in the majors, hitting .211
with a .603 OPS in 174 games, but is still just 25 years old despite
being around forever and has been thriving at Triple-A.

While playing at Triple-A for the fourth straight year, Marte has
hit .327/.369/.593 with 18 homers and 24 doubles in 82 games to reverse
a long trend of declining production. Between his .277 career batting
average and poor 50/22 K/BB ratio this year the odds are against Marte
hitting more than .250 or so, but he blasted 25 homers per 600 PA at
Triple-A even prior to showing this season’s huge pop.

* Jason Giambi’s trip to the disabled list with a quadriceps injury
opened the door for Daric Barton to get another long look in Oakland,
but he suffered a hamstring injury of his own five games in and joined
Giambi on the shelf Tuesday. Barton’s long-term outlook has declined
dramatically during the past two seasons and he now looks likely to
become merely a solid regular rather than a potential star.

He’s expected to return in 2-3 weeks, but with Giambi also sidelined
the A’s have turned to minor-league veteran Tommy Everidge at first
base. Everidge made his MLB debut Tuesday and went hitless in his first
four at-bats before delivering an RBI double with two outs in the ninth
inning as the A’s erased a three-run deficit against Jonathan Papelbon.

Everidge is 26 years old and had a mediocre track record in the
minors prior to this season, but hit .306/.380/.489 in 55 games at
Double-A and .382/.432/.636 in 43 games at Triple-A to earn the
call-up. My guess is that he won’t stick in the majors, but Everidge
has averaged 21 homers per 600 plate appearances along with solid plate
discipline, so he could certainly have AL-only value for a little bit.

AL Quick Hits: Chien-Ming Wang has decided on shoulder surgery
after meeting with Dr. James Andrews, ending his brutal season at 1-6
with a 9.64 ERA … Jim Thome was held out of Tuesday’s lineup with back
soreness … Matt Wieters had his first four-hit game Tuesday, raising
his batting average to .273 … In a swap of backup outfielders, the
White Sox acquired Mark Kotsay from the Red Sox for Brian Anderson … As
of Tuesday night, general manager J.P. Ricciardi said that his “gut”
feeling has Roy Halladay staying in Toronto … Daisuke Matsuzaka told
Japanese reporters Monday that the Red Sox’s training methods are to
blame for his shoulder problems … Scott Kazmir threw more than seven
innings Tuesday for the first time in over a year, holding the Yankees
to one run while beating CC Sabathia … Ian Kinsler left Tuesday’s game
with a strained calf … Mark Buehrle followed his perfect game by being
flawless through five innings Tuesday, setting the MLB record with 45
straight batters retired before falling apart in a loss.

NL Quick Hits: Roy Oswalt has been diagnosed with a strained
back after exiting Tuesday’s start in the second inning … Matt
Lindstrom (elbow) is due to come off the disabled list this weekend,
but may not immediately resume closing … Pedro Martinez hinted that he
hopes to join the Phillies’ rotation after his second rehab start
Friday at Triple-A … Todd Wellemeyer has been shifted to the bullpen
after posting a 5.79 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 110 innings, with Mitchell
Boggs replacing him in the rotation for now … Troy Glaus’ rehab stint
has been indefinitely put on hold because of lingering back pain …
Oakland shipped Sean Gallagher to San Diego to complete the Scott
Hairston deal, making him a nice fantasy sleeper for next season …
Colby Rasmus (heel) was back in the lineup Tuesday after sitting out
four games … After missing four weeks with a broken toe, Ryan Dempster
came off the shelf by allowing six runs over five innings Tuesday.

It’s pretty stupid that athletes can’t endorse beer

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner celebrates after pitching the Giants to a 8-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) ORG XMIT: PAGP102
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One of the more amusing things to spin out of the Super Bowl were Peyton Manning’s little Budweiser endorsements in his postgame interviews. It was hilarious, really, to see him shoehorn in references to going and cracking a crisp cool Budweiser multiple times. It was more hilarious when a Budweiser representative tweeted that Manning was not paid to do that. Of course, Manning owns an interest in alcohol distributorships so talking about The King of Beers was in his best financial interest all the same.

After that happened people asked whether or not Manning would face discipline about this from the NFL, as players are not allowed to endorse alcoholic beverages. This seemed crazy to me. I had no idea that they were actually banned from doing so. Then I realized that, huh, I can’t for the life of me remember seeing beer commercials with active athletes, so I guess maybe it’s not so crazy. Ken Rosenthal later tweeted that Major League Baseball has a similar ban in place. No alcohol endorsements for ballplayers.

Why?

I mean, I can fully anticipate why the leagues would say athletes can’t do it. Think of the children! Role models! Messages about fitness! All that jazz. I suspect a more significant reason is that the leagues and their partners — mostly Anheuser-Busch/InBev — would prefer not to allow high-profile athletes to shill for a competitor. How bad would it look for Alex Rodriguez to do spots for Arrogant Bastard Ale when there are Budweiser signs hanging in 81% of the league’s ballparks? Actually, such ads would look WONDERFUL, but you know what I mean here.

That aside, it does strike me as crazy hypocritical that the leagues can rake in as much as they do from these companies while prohibiting players from getting in on the action. If it is kids they’re worried about, how can they deny that they endorse beer to children every bit as effectively and possibly more so than any one athlete can by virtue of putting it alongside the brands that are the NFL and MLB? Personally I don’t put much stock in a think-of-the-children argument when it comes to beer — it’s everywhere already and everyone does a good job of pushing the “drink responsibly” message — but if those are the leagues’ terms, they probably need to ask themselves how much of a distinction any one athlete and the entire league endorsing this stuff really is.

That aside, sports and beer — often sponsored by active players — have a long, long history together:

Musial

And the picture at the top of this post certainly shows us that Major League Baseball has no issues whatsoever in having its players endorse Budweiser in a practical sense.

Why can’t they get paid for doing it?

The Orioles signed Rafael Palmeiro’s son

Rafael Palmeiro
Getty Images
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Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.

Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.

As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.

This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.