Cliff Lee loses to Twins, falls to 2-5 with 4.50 ERA for Rangers

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Francisco Liriano held up his end of the bargain in last night’s marquee pitching matchup, taking a shutout into the seventh inning in Texas, but Cliff Lee turned in his third straight ugly start and dropped to 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 total outings since being traded to the Rangers.
Lee continues to post a ridiculously good strikeout-to-walk ratio, racking up 67 strikeouts compared to just six walks in 76 post-trade innings, but he’s served up nine homers after allowing just five in 104 innings before the move and has been knocked around for 23 runs in his last 24.2 innings.
There’s some bad luck at play here, because someone with a 67/6 K/BB ratio in 76 innings simply shouldn’t have a 4.50 ERA unless they’re giving up tons and tons of long balls, but that doesn’t change how disappointing Lee has been for the Rangers so far. Last night’s struggles were particularly interesting, because the Twins were among the teams in the mix for Lee and now probably feel pretty good about not emptying the farm system for him.
Texas is 3-7 in games started by Lee, although it looks like they’ll still cruise into the playoffs and the success of the trade will ultimately hinge on what happens in October. If he leads them deep into the postseason few people will remember that Lee had a losing record down the stretch. Lee went 2-4 with a 6.13 ERA in his final seven starts for the Phillies last season before going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the playoffs.

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.