How did the BSOHL guys do in 2012?

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Each winter we keep tabs on which players — and sometimes which managers or even bloggers — report to spring training in The Best Shape of Their Lives.  Let’s see how the winter 2011-12 roster did compared to their 2011 seasons when, presumably, they were in terrible shape.

Note: there may have been a few stragglers after this list was compiled back in February.  If I’m missing someone, let’s talk about them in the comments:

  • Chris Tillman:  WAY better in 2012. IMPROVED
  • Franklin Gutierrez: Played better when available, but only played 40 games. DECLINED
  • Miguel Olivo: OPS decreased, games played decreased. DECLINED
  • Miguel Cabrera: Was awesome, became awesomer on the surface, but actually saw his batting average and on base percentage go down and had his worst OPS+ in three years. Still, the dude did move to third base, and that’s a way better indication of his shape than the offensive stat line: IMPROVED
  • Justin Smoak: Took a nose dive. DECLINED
  • Dexter Fowler: Improved in most offsensive categories and played more games. IMPROVED
  • Jaime Garcia:  Declined in most categories and spent much of the year injured. DECLINED
  • Miguel Tejada: 36 games in Triple-A and called it quits. Gonna go out on a limb and say that his BSOHL was an agent’s talking point. DECLINED, perhaps DIED
  • Aubrey Huff: Fell into a pit and is presumably still plummetting. His season highlight was getting injured trying to jump the dugout railing to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game. DECLINED
  • Vicente Padilla: Hadn’t pitched much the past couple of years but took the ball 56 times from the bullpen. Results were pretty “meh” and he remained the same irritable SOB he always has been, but just in terms of durability one has to say he improved, yes? IMPROVED
  • Carlos Zambrano: He pitched in 35 games and didn’t cause any riots or anything, even when demoted to the bullpen. Still, a stiff back limited his innings and effectiveness. I’m going to go with NO CHANGE.
  • Yonder Alonso: Weird for a guy as young as he is to even make the BSOHL claim. He was adequate at times in his first full season of action, but his ballpark and the playing time certainly exposed him. He did lose some weight over the offseason I guess, so it was a legit claim of BSOHL, but we need more data to see if he improved. For now: NO CHANGE.
  • Carlos Gutierrez: Spent the whole season in the minors again, but his “whole season” was 10 relief starts before a shoulder injury ended his season in July. Then he was waived. Gonna say that he was not in the BSOHL at any time in 2012. DECLINED
  • Mark Teixeira: Was injured and hit worse for most of the season when he did play. DECLINED
  • Dmitri Young: He actually had no real chance to make a major league roster, but given his dramatic weight loss, he certainly was in the BSOHL. And based on this picture from last night, he has kept it off.  Life is more important than baseball, and Young is taking charge of his life. IMPROVED
  • Yoenis Cespedes: I can’t remember the basis for this claim, but given that he exceeded most reasonable expectations, I’d say he IMPROVED
  • Phil Hughes: He frustrated Yankees fans at times in 2012, but he was healthy most of the year, pitched nearly 200 innings and bounced back from a disastrous 2011. IMPROVED
  • Brett Cecil: Didn’t make the Jays out of camp and the was demoted again to Las Vegas after some time in Toronto. DECLINED
  • Bill Hall: Multiple signings — Yankees, Orioles — and a DFA by the Orioles to Triple-A where he really didn’t hit like he needed to.  He’s done, it seems. He, Miguel Tejada and Aubrey Huff should go open a bar somewhere and make the BSOHL Cocktail their feature drinks. DECLINED

So there you have it.  It’s almost enough to suggest that, when someone says they’re in the Best Shape of His Life, they may not actually be.  Troubling, I’ll admit, but let’s not stop keeping track of it.

If you see a BSOHL claim this offseason, be sure to raise the alarm with the HardballTalk BSOHL Strike Team.

Miguel Cabrera has two herniated discs in his back

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Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera underwent an MRI which revealed two herniated discs in his back, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. With six games remaining in the season, if Cabrera plays again, it will be as a designated hitter.

The back issues shed a lot of light on Cabrera’s uncharacteristically subpar season. He’s batting .249/.329/.399 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI in 529 plate appearances this season. He carries an adjusted OPS of 92, which is eight points below the league average and 14 points below his previous career low set in 2003 with the Marlins.

Cabrera, 34, is signed through 2023 and is owed a minimum of $192 million through the end of his contract.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

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No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.