Every year Bud Selig gives a big press conference on All-Star day. This year’s version just went down and, as usual, it was a rapid fire series of comments which pretty much set the official word of Major League Baseball on a ton of different topics. Highlights:
- The complaints of some notwithstanding, Selig has no problem with Derek Jeter being away from the All-Star Game. Says he would have made the same choice in Jeter’s place and that there has been no player over the past 15 years he respects more than Jeter. If baseball blogs had the same standards of partisan political blogs I’d do a headline saying “Selig questions Jeter’s absence,” but since we’re better than that I think I’ll let it lie.
- Selig said baseball would look at the rule which prohibits pitchers who threw on the Sunday before the All-Star Game to play in the game. Many have questioned this, inasmuch as Tuesday is often a bullpen session day for Sunday starters, so why not let them throw 20-25 pitches in the All-Star Game? Cole Hamels was complaining about this yesterday. Seems like some option should be involved for teams and pitchers.
- Selig was asked about radical or massive realignment as many talked about a few weeks ago. He said there was nothing imminent on that, and generally downplayed it all, so I would guess it isn’t happening.
- He said that the David Einhorn buy-in to the Mets is basically approved pending he and the Wilpons finishing the paperwork. Said it was a good deal for the Mets. Not sure what else he’d say.
- Said that he had all kinds of things he’d like to say about the Frank McCourt litigation, but that he couldn’t. God, I know how that feels.
- All but said that the 2013 All-Star Game will be in Citi Field, which is what everyone has basically known for a long time. I don’t get why baseball takes so long to formally announce this kind of thing.
- He’s surprised by the Tampa Bay Rays’ low attendance this season and understands the concerns of Rays’ ownership. I would guess that if the Rays could figure out a way to move, Selig would support it.
- At the same time, he totally dodged a question about the Oakland Athletics’ situation and the 28-month-long committee meeting that is holding up their future.
- Selig “likes” tying home field advantage in the World Series to the All-Star Game. He probably also likes Miracle Whip on corned beef sandwiches.
- When asked why they couldn’t just use the best record in the regular season to determine home field advantage for the World Series, Selig said “You can’t wait till end of the year.” Which I guess means that the current system is totally rigged, because you don’t know which park will host the first game of the World Series until the LCSs are over now as it is. Troubling, or incoherent? You be the judge!
- Selig said that he’s definitely retiring after the 2012 season like he has promised. I will believe it when I see it.
- He said that there would be some sort of instant replay expansion, albeit limited. Likely on fair/foul calls.
- He said that he likes the idea of using the DH in NL parks and letting pitchers bat in AL parks during interleague play. Really. Reverse rules. I’m not sure whose idea that is, but it’s … odd.
He said other stuff. Nothing radical of course because he’s Bud Selig, and that cuts both good and bad at varying times. But hey, at least it’s what we’re used to.
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.