Dice-K imploded last night. And it’s really no mystery why

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Daisuke Matsuzaka got creamed last night, giving up seven runs on eight hits, including two homers, in two innings.  This morning Rob Bradford of WEEI has a story up with the headline “One hundred starts later the Daisuke Matsuzaka mystery remains unsolved.”

Bradford tries to figure out where it all went wrong for Dice-K, but I gotta tell ya: it ain’t no mystery: if you throw 90 mile per hour fastballs to the fat part of the plate and have nothing else to show the hitters to make them do anything but wait for those meatballs, you’re gonna get creamed.  And it isn’t just me saying it. Terry Francona said as much after last night’s game:

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A lot of people wonder when Dice-K will return to form. Fact is, though, that Matsuzaka had one really sweet year: 2008, and he was pretty lucky that year, posting a sub-3.00 ERA despite leading the league in walks and in hits allowed per nine innings.  The truth, it seems, is that Dice-K is the pitching version of Jeff Francoeur. A guy whose bad performances, at some point, have to be considered the norm and his good ones the aberration. Not the other way around.

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.