Albert Pujols has to be very, very tired

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Mark Buehrle, when asked how he would pitch to Albert Pujols if he faces him tonight:

“High and inside. Hit ’em. Knock him off the plate. Hopefully he charges the mound.”

Of course he immediately backtracked, admitted he was joking and gave
all kinds of respect to Pujols. A shame, really, as I think a real war
of words and a genuine villain would make tonight a hell of a lot more
fun for everyone. Can you imagine the crowd’s reaction if someone threw
some chin music Pujols’ way at the All-Star Game? And then stood on the
mound and stared him down as he dusted himself off? Oh well, a boy can
dream, can’t he?

Of course, it may be a better move to simply challenge Albert with straight fastballs, because the guy is probably gassed at this point:

Albert and Deidre Pujols awoke early Monday morning, particularly
early given the Cardinals’ 1 a.m. return from a marathon day-night
doubleheader against the Cubs in Chicago . . . He arrived home at 2
a.m. Barely nine hours later, El Hombre walked into the downtown Hyatt
as baseball’s resident rock star, commanding a legion of media, a crush
of questions in English and Spanish and acknowledgment as unofficial
centerpiece for the Derby and tonight’s All-Star Game.

I’m pretty sure Pujols has been on every single broadcast, podcast,
cut-in, setup and photo-op originating from St. Louis since yesterday
morning. Understandable, but one wonders when, if at all, he gets a
break. More than any single player on any single team, the Cardinals
live or die with Albert Pujols’ performance. One hopes for their sake
that he can get a breather before the second half of the season starts.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.