What we're watching: Carpenter vs. Haeger

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– Francisco Liriano will attempt to build on a strong effort against the Royals when he faces the AL wild card-leading Rangers in Texas.  It will be his second start in Arlington in a month, as he allowed three runs — two earned — in six innings in a no-decision on July 19.  The Rangers will counter with Tommy Hunter, who just shut out the Indians for 7 2/3 innings last time out.  The 2007 supplemental first-round pick is 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA.

 

– Ted Lilly will rejoin the Cubs’ rotation tonight after missing four starts due to left shoulder inflammation and a knee injury that required minor surgery.  It looks like he’ll be able to ease back into action against a Padres team that has been especially weak against left-handers (.229/.300/.368).  Lilly is 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA against San Diego in his career.

 

Game of the Night

 

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles – The NL’s two winningest teams will begin a three-game series with a rather lopsided pitching matchup.  Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is 12-3 with a 2.27 ERA that ranks second in the majors.  Dodgers knuckleballer Charlie Haeger is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in a career that includes one start and 18 relief appearances.  It will be his debut for the team after he went 11-6 with a very impressive 3.55 ERA for Triple-A Albuquerque.  Away from the offensive paradise the Isotopes play in half of the time, he had a 2.44 ERA.

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.