Matthew Pouliot

James McDonald

Anyone want to take a flier on James McDonald?


Right-hander James McDonald had a great case for being an All-Star in the summer of 2012. Not a whole lot has gone right since, though, and the Pirates designated him for assignment Saturday, according to the Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel, removing him from the 40-man roster.

McDonald had been on the shelf since early May due to shoulder soreness, though he’s recently progressed to the point at which he can pitch in games. He’s making $3.025 million this season, so it’d cost another team about $500,000 to take a flier on him for the rest of the year. Since he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, there’s enough upside to justify the risk. If he shows something this month, a team could keep him in arbitration for about that same $3 million salary next year. If he doesn’t, then he gets non-tendered and probably signs for $1 million-$2 million at the most this winter.

The 28-year-old McDonald is 32-30 with a 4.20 ERA lifetime in 82 starts and 49 relief appearances. He was 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA before going down this season.

Yusmeiro Petit so far from and so close to perfection

Yusmeiro Petit, Eric Chavez

Yusmeiro Petit was one pitch away from what might have been the most unlikely perfect game of all-time. Inches really. The 2-2 pitch to Eric Chavez easily could have been called a strike in a typical situation, even without the help overzealous umpires sometimes give in no-hitter situations.

Then Hunter Pence came up just short on Eric Chavez’s liner. In any ballpark besides AT&T Park, it would have been more likely to be an out. Because of the depth and the angle of the wall in right, right fielders in AT&T cheat more towards center than anywhere else. Pence made his best effort to come up with the ball; if he had been shaded one or two steps to his left, he may have gotten it.

As is, Philip Humber is probably the weakest pitcher to throw a perfect game, but his feat last April came against a pretty awful Mariners lineup. And considering that he had a fine 3.75 ERA in the year before his perfect game, he was certainly held in higher regard then than Petit is.

Because of injuries, Dallas Braden hasn’t done much at all since his perfect game in 2010, but he was a fine pitcher while healthy. Len Barker, who pitched his perfect game in 1981, is known now as a free agent bust, but he led the AL in strikeouts in both 1980 and 1981. Charlie Robertson, who threw the second perfect game after 1900, finished up his career 49-80 and probably ranks next in line after Humber.

I’m still going with Petit, though. The one-time Mets prospect entered the night 12-20 with a 5.37 ERA as a major leaguer. In eight seasons in Triple-A, he was 31-32 with a 4,36 ERA. Two years ago, he pitched in the Mexican League.

And his near perfect game came against a team that’s had playoff aspirations for most of the year. The Diamondbacks entered the night fifth in the NL in runs scored.

But there was Petit setting them all down quickly with his high-80s fastball. He threw just 95 pitches in the game.  I can’t speak for the whole contest, but for those last two innings, all of those pitches ended up right where he wanted them to. With a little more luck, he would have entered the record books as just the 22nd pitcher since 1900 to achieve perfection. He didn’t get there, but he took a big step towards accomplishing another goal: achieving a spot in the Giants’ 2014 rotation.

After his father comes up a little short, Johnny Monell Jr. reaches the majors

Johnny Monell

We’re not going to tell the story here: head on over to for Andrew Baggarly’s feature on Johnny Monell Jr., who was just called up by the Giants, and Johnny Monell Sr., who played professional baseball for 17 years without ever reaching the majors.

If you need more incentive, there’s a Hector Villanueva segment. Just go read it already.