Monday evening signings: Blue Jays, Marlins, A's

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*MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Blue Jays and Ramon Castro have come to terms on a one-year deal worth about $1 million.
The Blue Jays will get nice pop from their $3 million catching duo of John Buck and Castro. The two combined for 15 homers and 61 RBI in 341 at-bats last season. Of course, defense is a question mark, though both have decent enough arms. Castro should have been a starter in his prime, but he was never all that motivated to make it happen. He turns 34 in March, and he hasn’t started more than 40 games in a season since 2005. The Jays will want more from him, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he comes to play.
*The Marlins added RHP Clay Hensley, RHP Scott Strickland, RHP Matt Peterson, INF Brian Barden and INF Donnie Murphy on minor league deals.
All rather familiar names here. Getting Hensley re-signed was something of a priority. The former Padre had a nice 3.24 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque last season, and he should have a real chance of making the Marlins as a middle reliever. The other candidate to make the team is Barden. He served as a utiltyman for the Cardinals early last season, and he’d make sense as a replacement for Alfredo Amezga next year. The Marlins, though, might go with Emilio Bonifacio as a reserve and decide not to carry a true backup shortstop.
*The A’s signed five minor league free agents: LHP Cedrick Bowers, RHP Fernando Hernandez, RHP Marcus McBeth. RHP Matt Wright and 1B Matt Whitney
McBeth is the pride of this group and the only one to see major league action last season, as he pitched briefly for the Red Sox. The former outfielder was originally an A’s prospect, but he was traded to the Reds for Chris Denorfia in 2007. He had a .269 ERA and a .189 average against as a Triple-A reliever last season, and he’ll probably see some time in the Oakland bullpen next year.

Matthew Stafford audibles with “Kershaw! Kershaw!”

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Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:

Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.

With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.

The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.

You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.

Matt Harvey has a 13.19 ERA since coming back from the disabled list

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Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.

Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.

Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.

Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.

Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.