Millwood's option will be allowed to vest. Maybe.

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While Kevin Millwood pitched well earlier in the season, he is 2-4 with a 5.92 ERA and has been walking a lot of guys in his past 11 starts. What’s more, as Baseball Time in Arlington’s Joey Matschulat notes this morning, Millwood has greatly reduced the number of fastballs he has thrown in the second half, which could suggest an injury.

Is he hurt or is he just ineffective?  These aren’t merely baseball questions for the Rangers, they’re business questions too, because Millwood needs eight more innings to reach 180 for the year, and that would trigger his $12 million option for 2010.  In light of (a) his performance, (b) Texas’ plethora of young pitching talent; and (c) Owner Tom Hicks’ severe financial problems and the impending sale of the team, there is at least a reasonable argument to be made that Texas should shut Millwood down.

Anyone willing to go on the record is saying that won’t happen, however.  Millwood is slated to start tonight, and both GM Jon Daniels and team President Nolan Ryan are saying that they won’t consider sitting him in order to prevent his option from vesting. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, however, adds an ominous sounding note when he says “It may be
others besides the Rangers baseball people who decide that Millwood
won’t pitch beyond Friday.”

That seems like a very odd thing for him to just throw into an article like this. Sullivan is a good reporter and knows the Rangers better than anyone, so I can’t help but think that he’s heard something from someone suggesting that Millwood’s season could be over soon.

I suppose a lot of this depends on how he pitches tonight.  If he’s effective, I can’t see how the Rangers could keep him off the mound without losing both the clubhouse and the fans.  If he’s shelled, however, all bets are off.

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.