How insurance plays a part in the Stephen Strasburg shutdown decision

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The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore is one of the best baseball writers around because, in addition to simply being a good writer and reporter, he’s smart and curious about the game and all that surrounds it. One of the reasons you don’t read a lot of cut-and-paste stories from him is that he thinks a lot about what’s interesting, not just about what’s there to be reported.

A good example today comes in his piece — not driven by some event or press release, but by his own curiosity — regarding the potential insurance ramifications of Stephen Strasburg pitching for the Nationals beyond the date the club his chosen to shut him down.

The short version: there is a good chance that, if Strasburg were to pitch against medical advice and get hurt, the Nationals would not be able to draw on any insurance they have for him and thus would have to cover his contract themselves. That’s not a small consideration, it seems.

At the same time, as Kilgore notes, it’s not like Strasburg is hurt now, so the “medical advice” against which he’d be pitching, is pretty damn speculative (i.e. there is no consensus on how to best handle a post Tommy John pitcher).

Taking it a step further, one wonders whether a fight between the Nats and an insurance company over this sort of thing would lead to a decision in which even the most overly-cautious approaches to a player’s health became the official reasonable standard for such things.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.