Report: Astros, Jack Cust agree to one-year deal with club option

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UPDATE: Put the pitchforks and torches down, Astros fans.

Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Cust will get a one-year deal with a club option for 2013. While this is a little better than what we heard a few moments ago, most expected he wouldn’t get anything more than a spring training invite.

10:56 PM: Here’s a surprising one.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Astros and Jack Cust have agreed to terms a two-year contract. You heard me right. The very same Jack Cust who batted just .213 with three home runs, 87 strikeouts and a .673 OPS over 270 plate appearances before being released by the Mariners last August.

Rosenthal speculates that Cust could be an option at designated hitter when the Astros move to the American League in 2013, but that doesn’t make this deal any less of a head-scratcher. The dude turned 33 years old yesterday, can’t play defense and his flyball and contact rates have dipped in each of the last two seasons. Two years for that? Even assuming it’s at a minimal cost, I’m stumped.

The only explanation I can come up with is that Sig Mejdal, the Astros’ new director of decision sciences, must be on vacation this week.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.