Neftali Feliz says he’s through with starting

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I’ve all but worn out the “Neftali Feliz should be a starter” argument in the past few months. The response back every time I’ve made it is “the Rangers plan on keeping him as a closer now, but moving him to the rotation in 2012.” Well, it seems that Neftali Feliz himself hasn’t gotten the memo on that:

“I spent most of spring training as a starter and I enjoyed it. But I’m a closer now, and God willing I’ll remain a closer the rest of my career. I made the decision that I won’t start anymore … The team has told me that next year I would still have the chance to start, but I don’t want to do it anymore. This year my arm didn’t feel good after they moved me from the rotation back to closing, so I don’t want to go through that again and risk the same thing happening.”

That’s quite odd. If the change to closing is what made his arm feel bad, doesn’t that imply that his arm felt good while starting? And isn’t at least possible that the more frequent work as a relief pitcher, even if it’s a lower overall work load, is what is causing his problems?

And above all else, is this decision really one for Feliz to make as opposed to Ron Washington, Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan?

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.