Yesterday, the Royals…well, shocked is too extreme…surprised a lot of us when they just let lefty reliever Jose Mijares go. When he was claimed by the Giants on waivers, the Royals didn’t put up any kind of a fight, and didn’t try to work out a deal to acquire talent in return. Instead, they just let the Giants have him.
Mijares is by no means a bullpen ace. He’s severely limited to a LOOGY role, given that righties have hit .272/.357/.429 off him in his career, but he’s been good in that role, allowing lefties to hit just .212/.277/.328. He’s having a good season too, with a 2.56 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 38.2 innings, and the second best K/BB ratio of his career. And finally, he’s cost almost nothing for the Royals, with his $925,000 salary and being under team control for two more years.
So what could have prompted the Royals to give him away? Well, Matthew Pouliot, of the normally excellent Hardball Talk thinks he has the answer:
“There’s one obvious answer here; Mijares was a real problem in the clubhouse. That was part of why the Royals dropped Yuniesky Betancourt on Sunday, and Mijares has long been viewed as something of a headcase. The Royals obviously didn’t think he’d be worth keeping around in 2013, so they figured they might as well let him go now.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up. This is the kind of baseless and completely uncorroborated speculation that would be rightly pilloried if it came from a member of the mainstream media or by an amateur blogger. Pouliot isn’t just arguing that Mijares is out of shape, he’s arguing that he’s a bad teammate. He’s arguing that Mijares is a bad guy.
Up until this year, Mijares played in Minnesota, a team with which TCM has had a passing acquaintence over the years. To The Common Man’s recollection, no one has ever accused Mijares of being a problem in the clubhouse before. But TCM thought he should double check, so he countacted both Parker Hageman of Twins Daily and Jesse Lund of Twinkie Town, neither of whom could remember any incidents or accusations, or rumors that Mijares wasn’t a good clubhouse guy. Indeed, they confirmed TCM’s recollection that the primary problem with Mijares, from the Twins’ perspective, was his shoddy conditioning.
Now certainly, Mijares’s poor work habits are a source for concern for whoever he plays for, but that’s still a vastly different kind of accusation than saying someone is a troublemaker. Teams are willing to put up with the fat guy who can still perform (see Babe Ruth, Bobo Newsome, Greg Luzinski, Boog Powell, Rich Garces, John Kruk, Kirby Puckett, Tony Gwynn, CC Sabathia, etc). But teams are not willing to put up with a marginally talented player who’s not a good teammate. And once guys get fitted with that label, that they’re “bad guys”, they quickly see their opportunities dwindle.
Pouliot should know better than to go off half cocked without quotes, or without at least confirmation from someone with the team. Instead, he’s just as bad as Murray Chass and his ilk, who use innuendo and unsubstantiated gossip to turn Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell into steroid freaks who molest small children and once pushed an old lady into oncoming traffic.
If you have anything to substantiate this, Matthew, present it. If not, retract it. Hardball Talk is supposed to be much, much better than this. Even with a player so inconsequential (and occasionally frustrating) as Mijares that TCM is a little embarrassed to be going to bat for him. When you go after a guy on the field, it’s one thing. When you talk about legitimate performance issues (such as conditioning), that’s ok. But to throw accusations around at marginal players like you’re in the middle of an elementary school food fight is inexcuseable. It doesn’t make you a journalist who’s brave enough to find out and shout the truth from the highest mountaintop. It doesn’t make you smarter than everyone else who doesn’t have the insight to follow your non-existent trail of breadcrumbs. No, dragging somebody else’s name through the mud with nothing even resembling proof makes you an asshole.
Pitcher of the Night: Jered Weaver, 9 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 9 K, 0 R
A complete game shutout for Weaver, who’s been positively Greinke-esque this year. He leads the American League in ERA (2.13), wins (15), and WHIP (0.916) despite the fact that his strikeouts are down. That .230 BABIP helps. You’d think it’s luck or a mirage, but Weaver’s BABIP has actually fallen for five straight seasons now, leaving TCM to wonder if he’s figured out a way to beat BABIP. To defeat DIPS. To rule out randomness. To make a loser out of luck. (TCM could go on with the alliteration for a while. Let’s move on.)
Hitter of the Night: Justin Morneau, 3-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI
Boy, when Morneau gets locked in, it’s so easy to remember how good he was two years ago before the concussion and dream that he can do it again over a full season. Both of his homers last night were authoritative. In the last month, he’s hit .365/.410/.604 and has boosted his OPS to .816 on the year.
Play of the Night: Josh Reddick
Watch Reddick make a tremendous play on a Mike Trout single to cut down the rookie, who’s trying to stretch it to a double. Bonus, you get to see Mike Trout get angry and mouth some fairly naughty words in the direction of umpire Bill Miller because he thinks Eric Sogard missed the tag. This kid. Getting to be more like Mickey Mantle every day.
Anti-Play of the Ever: Houston Astros
Thanks to Hardball Talk for posting this and to MLB.com for making it embedable. This play, which allowed the go-ahead run to score from first base in the 11th inning, can’t really be accurately described using human speech, except to say that it looks like the Indians at the beginning of Major League. Behold, the glory!
Injury of Note:
Matt Garza, Stress Reaction
No, not a migraine or snapping at his family for no good reason. This stress reaction is in his elbow, and it puts him out indefinitely. Who knows what’s in his future, but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have got to be kicking themselves they didn’t unload him in June.
Pirates: Erik Bedard, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 0 R
Bedard had a 2.57 ERA on May 9 when he was removed in the 2nd inning with back spasms. Since then, he’s had a 5.97 ERA, in 69.1 innings, including a 6.49 mark in July. Hopefully for the Pirates, this is a sign that August will be different.
Braves: Ben Sheets, 7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 R
Five starts and 32 innings into his comeback, Sheets is now 4-1 with a 1.41 ERA. This is the first time Sheets has appeared and not struck out a single batter since September 1, 2008.
Orioles: Chris Tillman, 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 R
Important information that TCM wants to know: What’s the record for biggest drop in ERA from one season to another among pitchers with more than 50 innings in each? Because Tillman went from 5.52 to 2.38 so far. Tillman has given up 9 unearned runs, however, which masks that he actually hasn’t been that sharp.
Red Sox: Aaron Cook, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 R
Two strikeouts for Cook matches his season high. The Rangers know what they must do now to restore their team honor. Ritual suicide is the only way out.
Twins: Ben Revere, 4-5, 3 R, RBI
Revere has a 20 game hitting streak, the longest Twins streak since Torii Hunter had 23 straight games with a hit in 2007. The Twins record is Ken Landreaux’s 31 game streak in 1980. During his run, Revere has hit .388/.411/.471 with 9 stolen bases in 9 attempts, and on the year he’s hitting .331/.361/.390. This probably represents the upper limits of his abilities, but boy is he fun to watch.
Brewers: Yovani Gallardo, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 R
After getting crushed by Washington on July 26, Gallardo has put up two straight strong starts of 7 innings and one run allowed. Doesn’t it seem like he’s been pitching forever? Dude’s only 26 though.
White Sox: Chris Sale, 8 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 7 K, 2 R
Asking the Royals to hit against Chris Sale is like asking my dog to do algebra. They’re just going to sit there and stare at you, wagging their bats, and thinking they’re being good boys, but have absolutely no idea how they’re supposed to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat, for which they have no earthly reference and are ill-equipped developmentally.
Cardinals: Daniel Descalso, 0-5, 1 K
Sure, the Cardinals won, but did anyone stop to think how much more they could have won by if their leadoff hitter didn’t have a .326 OBP. The Common Man cannot wait for the lionization of Descalso as a hustling gritty gamer (or, white guy) to begin. Joe McEwing also is on pins and needles.
Nationals: Drew Storen, 0.1 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 0 R
Modern bullpen usage at its finest, people. Storen saved 43 games in 48 chances last year, so he’s a proven closer. But he’s not THE closer this year. So even though he’s perfectly capable of closing, Storen gets lifted after three batters for the current closer, Tyler Clippard, who promptly blows the save, and the Nats have to use Craig Stammen for two innings in his third game in four days. Bad process, good result.
Tigers: Justin Verlander, 8 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 14 K, 2 R (0 ER)
Verlander ties his career high for strikeouts and pitches thrown. In fact, he hasn’t thrown fewer than 100 pitches since June of 2010 and has averaged 113.7 per game this season. The Common Man has serious admiration, but how long can he really hold up?
Padres: All pitchers everywhere, 9 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 K, 0 R
Eric Stults, Brad Brach, Dale Thayer, Luke Gregerson, Huston Street. The Common Man has heard of 1.5 of those guys, and they combined to shut out the Cubs. Good for them.
Rockies: Drewdam Pomervino, 7 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 9 K
Ok, you caught TCM. He’s combined the lines of Drew Pomeranz and Adam Ottavino. But with the 4 man rotation in Colorado and the overall crappiness, we don’t get to talk about the pitching much. By the way, Rockies starters have gotten the win in five of the team’s 13 wins since going to the 4-man rotation on June 19. This’ll undoubtedly play well at arbitration time.