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Mark Shapiro says the Blue Jays’ decision to not call up Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. “has nothing to do with business”

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Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro appeared on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday. When asked by super-prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. was not called up after rosters expanded on September 1, Shapiro said the decision “has nothing to do with business.”

The full quote:

It has nothing to do with business. It has nothing to do with anything other than we think the best thing for him developmentally is to go play in Arizona [fall league] and continue to develop. We think that when he gets here (which would obviously not preclude him from making the team out of spring training next year, which would be evidence of that fact), we think he’s got a chance to be an impact player.

Guerrero, 19, spent most of his season between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo. Overall in the minors this year, he hit .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI in 408 plate apeparances. Guerrero is rated as the Jays’ best prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

Shapiro’s justification is obviously bunk and it will be proven to have been bunk when Guerrero doesn’t make the Jays’ 25-man roster out of spring training next year, just like the Braves with Ronald Acuña and the Cubs with Kris Bryant. Guerrero would accrue service time for the time he would be on the Jays’ roster this month, so Shapiro and his cabal want to ensure he doesn’t reach Super Two status and that the organization gains an extra year of contractual control over him. The decision to keep Guerrero off of the major league roster has everything to do with business. All the talk about helping him develop is hogwash.

The Twins didn’t want to add Byron Buxton back to the active roster after the minor league system ended. GM Thad Levine said, “I think part of our jobs is we’re supposed to be responsible for factoring service time into every decision we make. … We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we weren’t at least aware of service-time impacts on decisions we make.”

Levine did what Shapiro did not: he said the quiet part out loud. We always have this song-and-dance about every big-time prospect that doesn’t get called up. Normally, front office execs lie through their teeth and make up some excuse, like Shapiro did, justifying keeping a star player in the minors. That creates plausible deniability and the system continues uninterrupted.

The MLBPA seems to be taking issues like service time manipulation more seriously, having recently hired a new chief negotiator. When the current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021, hopefully the union will have successfully argued in favor of changing this system which prevents teams from putting together their best possible rosters and fans from seeing their favorite teams’ best and most exciting players.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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