Twins CEO Jim Pohlad finds team’s play “embarrassing”

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The Twins enter tonight’s game against the Rays 63-82, meekly doggy-paddling to the end of the regular season. They have lost six of their last eight games, including a humiliating 18-3 loss to the first-place Athletics. CEO Jim Pohlad told the media that, given the way the team has played, “it’s embarrassing to walk through the concourse”.

Pohlad promised to help GM Terry Ryan “however he wants me to help”, citing free agents as an example. However, he doesn’t intend to get involved with long-term contracts.

Via Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press:

“We would spend any amount of money in the current year, but in order to be able to spend that amount of money, you often have to obligate yourself so far out also.

“But there will be situations that will work. We’re not going to spend just for the heck of it, but, personally, I believe that could be a way to put some juice in there.”

There is an urgency, Pohlad said, to making the Twins a contender.

“We don’t want to wait,” he said. “I’m not saying we’re not going to do two- or three- or four-year contracts, but that seven-, eight-year stuff is a killer.”

It doesn’t seem like the Twins are a handful of free agents away from contention, but with their in-progress youth movement and with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano progressing, dealing with veteran free agents on one- or two-year deals may not be such a bad idea. It certainly makes more sense than borrowing from the promising future to supplement an uncertain present.

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.