Alex Rodriguez Reuters

A-Rod will try to appeal to federal court, but he’s not likely to have success


In the wake of Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension being reduced to 162 games, he said that he plans to appeal the decision to federal court. This is not unexpected, but I also believe that it will be a waste of his time and his money.

Arbitration is chosen by parties for the express purpose of avoiding litigation.  Courts are well aware of this. And in order to not undermine the integrity of arbitration awards, they very, very rarely overturn them.  Indeed, The Federal Arbitration Act provides the grounds for review of an arbitration decision. Such review is limited to overturning awards obtained by corruption or fraud. Or where the arbitrator himself is shown to be corrupted or to have engaged in misconduct of some kind or has shown a “manifest disregard for the law.”  Federal courts do not look at the facts and evidence anew and substitute their judgment for that of the arbitrator.

If there was any doubt about this at all, one merely peruse the trilogy of seminal decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court on the matter — Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co,  Steelworkers v. Enterprise Car and United Paperworkers v. Misco — and they can see how tall and steep a hill A-Rod has to climb:

Federal courts should decline to review the merits of arbitration awards under collective bargaining agreements . . . The question of interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement is a question for the arbitrator, and the courts have no business overruling his construction of the contract merely because their interpretation of it is different from his.

Collective bargaining agreements are governed by the Labor Management Relations Act. Under the LMRA, review of an arbitrator’s decision is even more limited. Courts cannot look at the case anew to decide if the collective bargaining agreement was followed or if the evidence was misinterpreted. They may only overturn the decision if the arbitrator clearly abused his authority and went way, way out on a limb. It’s hard to see A-Rod making that case here, even if a 162-game suspension seems a bit . . . random. Or, more to the point: calculated to have A-Rod gone for a certain length of time as opposed to reflecting the actual severity of the offense.

So go ahead, A-Rod: sue in federal court if you want. But you will waste your money. You will likely not get any help from the union — which, when MLB made noises about appealing the favorable arbitration ruling Ryan Braun received following his 2011-12 suspension, strongly stated such a move was ill-advised — and, most importantly, you will almost certainly lose.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.

White Sox sign catcher Alex Avila to a one-year deal

Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila, right, is congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after his solo home run in the third inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There have been a lot of articles published in the past few days about how to navigate awkward Thanksgiving conversations with your relatives. Heck, we even wrote one.

But there’s always room for more! Such as “How to talk to your father at Thanksgiving dinner about the fact that he let you walk away from the only team you’ve ever known to sign with a division rival.” Which is what Alex Avila will likely be talking about with his father, Tigers GM Al Avila:

The older Avila can’t even say he did it because he’s opposed to nepotism. After all, he just hired his other son — who has had his law degree for just over a year — as the Tigers assistant legal counsel for baseball operations. Though I’m sure that wasn’t nepotism. He probably just aced the interview and impressed everyone more than the other candidates did.

OK, those are jokes. In all seriousness, this is a good move for Alex and Al and, probably, the White Sox. With the emergence of James McCann, there really is not space for Alex Avila in Detroit in anything other than a backup capacity. In Chicago, he’ll get more playing time. At least if he can (a) stay healthy; and (b) not hit .191/.339/.287 again like he did in 2015.

Pirates sign outfielder/first baseman Jake Goebbert

Jake Goebbert

The best thing about minor Thanksgiving week transactions is that they are almost certainly done by GMs frantically looking for some work to do rather than go pick up their in-laws at the airport. I mean, sure, the player in question could very easily be an important player who fills a key role in the organization, but it’s not like it couldn’t have waited until Monday, right? This is the GM equivalent of you pretending you have to run into the office on Wednesday afternoon and, in reality, driving around in your car, listening to Neil Young and promising that NEXT YEAR you’re just doing a small Thanksgiving dinner with no family and, maybe, might even go on a little trip, just you and the wife.

Or is that just me? OK, maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, that’s how I’m choosing to view the Pirates activity today. First they traded for Allen Webster and now they’re signing minor league free agent first baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert, according to Adam Berry of

Goebbert, 28, hit .294 with an .844 OPS and 10 homers for Triple-A El Paso last season. He has 115 plate appearances in the bigs, all for San Diego in 2014. Overall he has a line of .282/.386/.465 with 30 homers in 997 Triple-A plate appearances in the Astros, Athletics and Padres organizations.

Not a bad depth move, especially given that the Pirates are looking to trade Pedro Alvarez and otherwise re-jigger their first base situation.