Joel Pineiro on struggles: “Honestly, the next thing I can do is sacrifice a live chicken”

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Another ugly outing last night puts Joel Pineiro in danger of losing his spot in the Angels’ rotation and the veteran right-hander hasn’t been able to figure out why he’s struggling, telling Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:

This is embarrassing. I’m making the team, the staff and myself look bad. I’ve got to turn it around. If it’s going to be like this the rest of the year, it’s going to be a long year for me.

I wish I had an explanation, but I have no idea what’s going on. I’ve tried everything. I’ve seen video, worked on mechanics, thrown in the bullpen. Honestly, the next thing I can do is sacrifice a live chicken.

Pineiro had a 3.84 ERA in 23 starts last season and a 3.90 ERA through 14 starts this year, but he’s coughed up 24 runs in 13 innings during his last four starts as his ERA ballooned to 5.31. Things got so bad last night that manager Mike Scioscia yanked the right-handed Pineiro in the middle of a bases-loaded at-bat against the right-handed Michael Cuddyer, bringing in the left-handed Hisanori Takahashi … who promptly served up a grand slam on his first pitch.

That speaks to how little confidence the Angels have in Pineiro at this point, but they might have even less confidence in the potential replacements at Double-A and Triple-A being ready to step into the rotation with better results. In the meantime: Joel, leave those chickens alone.

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.