The neutral third arbitrator who handles PED appeals, as well as grievances brought by players, serves at the pleasure of both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. They can fire him for any reason. They can fire him for no reason. All that need happen is written notice from one side or the other.
We most recently saw this in 2012 when Shayam Das, the arbitrator who had been in place for 13 years, was fired by Major League Baseball. The reason? Their dissatisfaction with his ruling in the original Ryan Braun suspension and appeal, which baseball sharply criticized. Das’ firing led to the firing of Frederic Horowitz, who issued the ruling in the A-Rod case Saturday.
So: will the MLBPA fire Horowitz now? My guess is yes.
It’s not a slam dunk, of course. The MLBPA is in a slightly different position than was Major League Baseball at the time of the Das position. Yes, they opposed Horowitz’s ruling, but they also — according to the ruling itself — agreed with the manner in which Horowitz approached parts of his decision. Specifically, Horowitz claims the MLBPA agreed that his discipline should come at the Commissioner’s discretion under the “just cause” provisions of he JDA and not under the 50/100/lifetime ban provisions. And, of course, they are now being sued by Alex Rodriguez, placing them in an odd tactical position between MLB and the player.
But, the MLBPA’s concessions aside, the arbitrator did just hammer a player with more or less unprecedented discipline. For political purposes alone, one has to think that the union may want to retaliate for that and/or for MLB’s firing of Braun.
If I’m a betting man, I say that the union fires Horowitz within a week or so.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.