UPDATE: Sure enough, the Indians have placed Masterson on the disabled list with right knee inflammation.
Maybe the Indians knew something when they balked at Justin Masterson’s seemingly reasonable contract extension demands.
Masterson, who recently admitted to pitching through knee problems for most of the season, failed to make it out of the third inning last night against the Yankees and his ERA now stands at 5.51 after making the All-Star team last season on the way to a 3.45 ERA.
Masterson’s last three starts have been 4.0 innings, 3.0 innings, and 2.0 innings. Dating back to mid-May he’s logged fewer than 5.0 innings in six of 10 starts, posting a 7.01 ERA and 41/33 K/BB ratio in 44 innings during that span.
After last night’s ugly performance Jordan Bastian of MLB.com asked Masterson what’s up and the 29-year-old right-hander didn’t have many answers:
I think I feel good. I don’t know. Who knows? It’s one of those where it’s a tick [off]. You’re so close and yet you’re so far away. I felt like tonight was going to be such a great one. We had a great bullpen session, got some good things in. Something so, so tiny can make such a big difference when you’re going 60 feet, six inches.
Given the revelation about his knee problems putting Masterson on the disabled list seems like the easiest solution, at least in the short term. He’s not helping himself or the Indians right now and there’s an actual physical problem at play. He’ll be a free agent in three months and suddenly Masterson’s odds of landing a huge contract on the open market aren’t looking so good.
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.