That’s one of my working theories for the odd case of Jose Mijares.
Now, Mijares was pretty bad last year, finishing with a 4.59 ERA and a 30/30 K/BB ratio in 49 innings for the Twins. Still, between 2009-10, he had a 2.67 ERA and an 83/32 K/BB ratio in 94 innings. The Twins probably could have kept him for $700,000-$1 million as a first-time arbitration eligible player, but they non-tendered him and the Royals signed him as a free agent for $925,000.
And, in his limited role as a lefty specialist, Mijares was pretty great as a Royal. He had a 2.56 ERA and a 37/13 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings for the season. He was charged with just one blown save versus 11 holds. Lefties were hitting .214 with just one homer and five walks in 84 at-bats against him.
Still, when Mijares was placed on waivers last week, no American League team bothered putting in a claim. He also made it through 10 National League teams before the Giants were awarded the claim.
And then the truly shocking event; the Royals simply let him go, getting only the waiver price return. It’s going to save them about $175,000 (Mijares had about $325,000 left on his contract; the minimum-salaried player replacing him on the roster will make about $175,000 the rest of the way). That’s nothing for a major league team.
Also, it’s not like they merely lost Mijares for the rest of this year; he was under team control through 2014. He’ll probably be due $1.25 million-$1.5 million in arbitration next year.
So, there’s one obvious answer here; Mijares was a real problem in the clubhouse. That was part of why the Royals dropped Yuniesky Betancourt on Sunday, and Mijares has long been viewed as something of a headcase. The Royals obviously didn’t think he’d be worth keeping around in 2013, so they figured they might as well let him go now.
As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!
Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”
Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.
You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.
Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.
The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”
Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.
This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.