John Lackey was not impressed by Caleb Joseph’s home run on Saturday

28 Comments

John Lackey has never exactly been Mr. Endearing when he’s opined to the media. He showed why that is again after Saturday’s loss to the Orioles in which he surrendered nine runs on 13 hits over five innings. The right-hander allowed three home runs, including one to 28-year-old rookie catcher Caleb Joseph. It was Joseph’s fifth consecutive game with a home run, and his blast went a reported 383 out to left-center at Camden Yards.

After the game, Lackey called Joseph’s long ball a “Baltimore home run”, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports. Ostensibly, Lackey means that Camden Yards’ dimensions favor hitters — and it does, but that is hardly an excuse for his performance. According to Statcorner.com, Camden Yards is very slightly above-average for right-handed hitters when it comes to hitting home runs. The park plays much better for left-handed hitters to hit home runs.

The Cardinals picked up the hot-tempered Lackey along with minor league pitcher Corey Littrell at the trade deadline from the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly. In 23 starts overall this season, Lackey has a 3.98 ERA with a 123/34 K/BB ratio in 149 1/3 innings.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

Rick Yeatts/Getty Images
42 Comments

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.