Indians even more left-handed in wake of Kotchman addition

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With Casey Kotchman penciled in over Matt LaPorta at first base, the Indians are now looking at the following lineup against right-handed pitching:

CF Grady Sizemore – L
SS Asdrubal Cabrera – S
RF Shin-Soo Choo – L
C Carlos Santana – S
DH Travis Hafner – L
2B Jason Kipnis – L
1B Casey Kotchman – L
3B Lonnie Chisenhall – L
LF Michael Brantley – L

That’s going to look pretty good 70 percent of the time. What about the other 30?

If the Indians opt to carry Chisenhall out of spring training, then they’ll probably have a bench of backup catcher Lou Marson, infielder Jack Hannahan (another left-handed hitter), first baseman-outfielder Shelley Duncan and outfielder Aaron Cunningham. Unfortunately, none of those guys figure to be all that productive against lefties. Lefty-killing is Duncan’s sole reason for being, but he actually had a .679 OPS in 102 at-bats against lefties last year, compared to .918 in 121 at-bats against righties. In his career, he has a .769 OPS against lefties and a .743 mark versus righties.

I think the Kotchman signing makes it a bit more likely that Chisenhall will get some extra Triple-A seasoning. Sending down Chisenhall would allow the Indians to go with a Hannahan/Jason Donald platoon at third base, giving them a little more pop against lefties. They’ll also badly need Cunningham to contribute against left-handers. He has a .741 OPS in 129 at-bats against them lifetime. A lot of those were at Petco, so maybe he’ll be better for the Indians.

Angel Hernandez — and all of labor — takes a loss in his lawsuit against MLB

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A couple of years ago umpire Angel Hernandez sued Major League Baseball alleging racial discrimination. The suit has chugged along quietly since then and we’ve not paid it much notice, but Sheryl Ring of Fangraphs has and she has a fascinating update from it that will be of interest to both law and labor geeks.

The short version: Major League Baseball wants to obtain records of communications between Hernandez and the umpire’s union, most likely to see if Hernandez ever brought up discrimination claims to his union before filing the suit. The league also wants the union’s own internal evaluations of the job Hernandez does on the field. MLB hopes to be able to undercut Hernandez’s arguments that he was discriminated against via these records.

That all makes sense, but it led to a side battle involving where the lawsuit should take place and whether MLB can get those records based on the law of said forum of the lawsuit. Hernandez sued in Ohio, which recognizes a privilege protecting worker-union communications. MLB got the suit moved to New York, however, and such a privilege is not recognized there. Earlier this week MLB got the New York court to agree that the union records should be handed over.

This is a big deal for Hernandez’s suit, obviously, but it has some pretty big implications for later lawsuits involving unionized employees in general. Oh, and as Ring explains, a screwup by Hernandez’s lawyers may have contributed to this outcome. Which, well, bad calls happen sometimes, right?

Go read Ring’s entire update here for a full, clear explanation that clear and easily understood even by the non-lawyers among us.