Daily Dose: Myers headed for hip surgery?

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Brett Myers underwent an MRI exam on his hip Thursday and received bad
news as it showed fraying and a possible tear in the labrum. He hasn’t
been placed on the disabled list as of this writing, but that seems
inevitable after Myers revealed that “it sounds like surgery is almost
100 percent from the first opinion” and “they told me that my hip is
f***ed up.”

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated that the Phillies would be
open to a trade to fill Myers’ spot in the rotation if he’s indeed done
for the season, but also made it clear that they’re more likely to
replace him internally with Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco, Andrew
Carpenter, or Antonio Bastardo. Carrasco is the team’s top pitching
prospect, but he’s 0-6 with a 5.81 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A.

While the Phillies hope that a second opinion can provide better
news for Myers, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Orioles right-hander David Hernandez made his MLB debut Thursday
by giving up one run over 5.2 innings for a win against Detroit.
Hernandez has never been highly touted as a prospect because of bad
command, as he walked four batters per nine innings coming into this
season. However, his strikeout rates have been fantastic and he showed
signs of improved control prior to being called up.

Hernandez had a 2.93 ERA and 60/13 K/BB ratio in 43 innings spread
over eight starts at Triple-A, giving him 595 strikeouts in 516 career
innings. If the improved control is legit Hernandez becomes a very
intriguing prospect, but he walked four of 25 batters Thursday while
needing 108 pitches to record 17 outs. He’s clearly worth keeping an
eye on and the 24-year-old could have value in AL-only spots.

* Chris Ray missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery,
but seemed to be doing reasonably well through his first 13 appearances
this season, posting a 13/5 K/BB ratio in 11.1 innings. Things began to
unravel for him last week and Ray allowed nine runs on seven hits and
six walks over a four-inning stretch that earned him a trip back to the
minors Thursday.

While his post-surgery struggles are discouraging, Ray still missed
a fair amount of bats by whiffing 21 percent of his batters faced
compared to 22 percent prior to going under the knife. His average
fastball was clocked at 94.1 miles per hour after being 94.2, 94.8, and
94.7 from 2005-2007, so aside from command issues his stuff still seems
plenty good. In other words, don’t give up on him quite yet.

* Travis Hafner’s comeback from a right shoulder injury was delayed
for 3-4 days by rib soreness, but he resumed his minor-league rehab
assignment Thursday at Triple-A by going 1-for-3 with a double and a
walk. Assuming that he can avoid a setback while playing 2-3 more games
at Columbus over the weekend, Hafner is on track to come off the
disabled list Monday.

AL Quick Hits: After missing three weeks with a hamstring
strain, Jorge Posada is slated to come off the disabled list Friday …
Victor Martinez drove in two runs Thursday, but his OPS dipped below
1.000 for the first time since the third game of the season … Jason
Varitek hit two homers off Anthony Swarzak before being ejected from
Thursday’s game, giving him 10 long balls in 133 at-bats after going
deep 13 times in 423 at-bats last season … Clete Thomas led off
Thursday, with usual leadoff man Curtis Granderson batting fifth for
Detroit … Luke Scott had a pair of homers Thursday, making him 4-for-8
with three homers and seven RBIs in two games since coming off the
shelf … Josh Beckett whiffed eight over seven innings of one-run ball
Thursday … Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder) is scheduled to make another
minor-league rehab start Sunday at Triple-A … Jacoby Ellsbury went
0-for-3 to snap his 22-game hitting streak Thursday.

NL Quick Hits: Carlos Zambrano has been suspended six games for
his amazing implosion Wednesday, so he’ll miss one start … Houston
manager Cecil Cooper doesn’t seem long for the job after general
manager Ed Wade declined to give him a vote of confidence Thursday …
Dan Haren threw seven innings of two-run ball Thursday, slicing his ERA
to 2.54 with a sparkling 71/9 K/BB ratio … Anibal Sanchez (shoulder)
tossed three scoreless innings in a minor-league rehab start Thursday
at Single-A … Randy Wolf keeps thriving in his second go-around with
the Dodgers, holding the Cubs to one run in seven innings Thursday …
Jonathan Broxton was unavailable after throwing 38 pitches the previous
game, so Ramon Troncoso picked up his third save Thursday … Tom Glavine
(shoulder) topped out in the mid-80s Thursday, but still had five
shutout innings in a rehab start at Triple-A … Xavier Paul (staph
infection) has been released from the hospital, but is likely still
several weeks from seeing game action.

Free agents who sign with new teams are not disloyal

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Most mornings my local newspaper is pretty predictable.

I know, when I navigate to its home page, that I’ll find about eleventeen stories about Ohio State football, even if it is not football season (especially if it’s not football season, actually), part 6 of an amazingly detailed 8-part investigation into a thing that is super important but which no one reads because it has nothing to do with Ohio State football and, perhaps, a handful of write-ups of stories that went viral online six days previously and have nothing to do with anything that matters.

Local print news is doing great, everyone.

I did, however, get a surprise this morning. A story about baseball! A baseball story that was not buried seven clicks into the sports section, but one that was surfaced onto the front page of the website!  The story was about Michael Brantley signing with the Astros.

Normally I’d be dead chuffed! But then I saw something which kinda irked me. Check out the headline:

Is Michael Brantley “leaving” the Indians? I don’t think so. He’s a free agent signing with a baseball team. He’s no more “leaving” the Indians than you are “leaving” an employer who laid you off to take a job at one of its competitors. This is especially true given that the Indians made no effort whatsoever to sign him. Indeed, they didn’t even give him a qualifying offer, making it very clear as of November 2 that they had no intention of bringing him back. Yet, there’s the headline: “Michael Brantley leaves Indians.”

To be clear, apart from the headline, the article is unobjectionable in any way. It merely recounts Ken Rosenthal’s report about Brantley signing with the Astros and does not make any claim or implication that Brantley was somehow disloyal or that Indians fans should be upset at him.

I do wish, though, that editors would not use this kind of construction, even in headlines, because even in today’s far more savvy and enlightened age, it encourages some bad and outmoded views of how players are expected to interact with teams.

Since the advent of free agency players have often been criticized as greedy or self-centered for signing contracts with new teams. Indeed, they are often cast as disloyal in some way for leaving the team which drafted or developed them. It’s less the case now than it used to be, but there are still a lot of fans who view a player leaving via free agency as some kind of a slap in the face, especially if he joins a rival. Meanwhile, when a team decides to move on from a player, either releasing him or, as was the case with the Indians and Brantley, making no effort to bring him back, it’s viewed as a perfectly defensible business decision. There was no comparable headline, back in early November, that said “Indians dump Brantley.”

Make no mistake: it may very well turn out to be a quite reasonable business decision for Cleveland to move on from Brantley. Maybe they know things about him we don’t. Maybe they simply know better about how he’ll do over the next year than the Astros do. I in no way intend for this little rant to imply that the Indians owed Brantley any more than he owed the Indians once their business arrangement came to an end. They don’t.

But I do suspect that there are still a decent number fans out there who view a free agent leaving his former team as some sort of betrayal. Maybe not Brantley, but what if Bryce Harper signs with the Phillies? What if Kris Bryant walks and joins the Cardinals when he reaches free agency? Fans may, in general, be more enlightened now than they used to be, but even a little time on talk radio or in comments sections reveals that a number of them view ballplayers exercising their bargained-for rights as “traitors.” Or, as it’s often written, “traders.” I don’t care for that whole dynamic.

Maybe this little Michael Brantley headline in a local paper that doesn’t cover all that much baseball is unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s an example of how pervasive that unfortunate dynamic is. It gives fans, however tacitly, license to continue to think of players as bad people for exercising their rights. I don’t think that belief will ever completely disappear — sports and irrationality go hand-in-hand — but I’d prefer it if, like teams, athletes are likewise given an understanding nod when they make a business decision. The best way to ensure that is to make sure that such decisions are not misrepresented.