Maybe we need to lay off the Omar Infante All-Star selection

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Jayson Stark tweets that both of the All-Star managers were told by Major League Baseball that they needed to pick a “multi-position” player in order to take advantage of the new rule allowing managers to return one player to the game after he comes out. It was for that reason, Stark says, Charlie Manuel chose Omar Infante and Joe Girardi chose Ty Wigginton, each of whom are capable of playing multiple positions.

Stark’s take: if fans had known that beforehand, and if there had been a position for, say, “designated utilityman” or something, no one would have had a problem with the Infante pick. He’s probably right about that.

Of course that still doesn’t make perfect sense because, to take advantage of the re-substitution rule, the managers would have to play Infante and Wigginton someplace else first, remove them and then return them to the game, which means more play from undeserving players than from legitimate All-Stars, and that would be silly.  Better to have no re-substitution rule at all and instead have an extra roster spot for utility guy who is not intended to play unless the game goes into extra innings, the team gets desperate or whatever.

But I get what Stark’s saying.  And it makes it pretty clear that Charlie Manuel didn’t think that Omar Infante was somehow a more deserving All-Star selection than Joey Votto or someone.  The bosses told him to take a utility guy, and as far as utility guys go, Infante is as good a choice as any in the National League.

He still needs to explain that Ryan Howard pick, though, because he’s just got no business there this year.

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.