Jose Altuve has probably heard more boos during the MLB postseason than any other player in the league. The fan treatment stems from his role in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, but one former AL MVP thinks the critics need to pipe down.
Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson, who was named AL MVP in 2015, took to Twitter before Game 5 of the ALCS on Wednesday night to defend Altuve. He reminded fans of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees that their teams have also faced cheating allegations.
Fairly or unfairly, Altuve seems to be the face of Houston’s cheating scandal. That may have something to do with the allegations that he wore a buzzer so signs could be relayed to him, though there has never been any actual evidence of that. Red Sox fans have taunted Altuve with vulgar chants during the ALCS.
As Donaldson noted, the Red Sox were caught using technology to steal signs several years ago. They also reportedly illegally used their video room to steal signs during a season in which they won the World Series.
Altuve and the Astros deserve much of the criticism that comes their way, but there’s no denying they have a lot of great players who don’t need to cheat to be great. Altuve is certainly one of them.
Photo: May 22, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) takes batting practice before the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson sparked some controversy this week by calling out Lucas Giolito over his alleged use of foreign substances. Giolito wasn’t happy, but the numbers seem to back Donaldson up.
Donaldson was heard saying “it’s not sticky anymore” after homering off Giolito on Tuesday. The Chicago White Sox pitcher was highly critical of Donaldson after learning of the comment, but the Twins third baseman only doubled down on his criticism the next day.
On Sunday, Giolito made his first start since his spat with Donaldson. The numbers certainly backed Donaldson: Giolito gave up a season-high 10 hits to the Detroit Tigers in only five innings, as his team lost 6-5. Giolito gave up all six of the team’s runs as well.
It’s not just the poor result that will raise eyebrows. According to MLB Statcast data, Giolito’s spin rate was down across the board from his season averages. Notably, he essentially shelved his curveball, and the only one he threw was down RPMs from his season average.
The change in spin rate was particularly notable when compared to Giolito’s last start prior to MLB’s June 3 announcement of its planned enforcement measures.
No, this doesn’t necessarily prove that Giolito had been using foreign substances. However, the data is pretty clear that something changed to cause less spin on Giolito’s pitches in the last month, and it’s probably not coincidence that it happened after MLB decided to aggressively enforce its rules against foreign substances. Donaldson seems to have the facts in his favor on this one.
It’s worth noting that Giolito is far from the only top pitcher facing questions about spin rate and foreign substances.
The New York Mets want to add some more punch to their lineup, and are reportedly eyeing some big-name third basemen in order to do so.
According to Andy Martino of SNY, the Mets have engaged in preliminary talks with the Minnesota Twins about a possible trade for third baseman Josh Donaldson. The Mets have also maintained interest in Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant since the offseason, though it’s not clear if the Cubs would still be open to trading him.
The Mets are also faced with the issue of potentially exceeding the $210 million luxury tax threshold, which they are reluctant to do. The team currently sits less than $10 million shy of that number. Plus, the organization is reluctant to trade top prospects in any deal.
Donaldson is a big name that could theoretically be available. The Twins have been a huge disappointment in 2021 at 33-46, and they could become sellers ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. The 35-year-old would not be a rental, either, as he is under contract through 2023 with a $16 million team option for 2024. He’s owed just shy of $22 million annually, though, so he won’t come cheap financially.
Donaldson is hitting .250 with 13 home runs for the Twins this season. He may be able to bring some attitude to the Mets too judging by a recent spat he had with one pitcher.
Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson is not backing down after White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito called him out for a remark Donaldson made during Tuesday’s game.
Donaldson appeared to say “it’s not sticky anymore” after homering off Giolito in the first inning of Tuesday’s game, suggesting the Twins third baseman believed Giolito was using illegal foreign substances prior to MLB’s crackdown. When Giolito learned of the comment after the game, he called Donaldson “classless” and challenged him to say it to the pitcher’s face instead.
On Wednesday, Donaldson responded by saying he felt Giolito’s response was evidence that the pitcher had been breaking the rules up until now, adding that it was hypocritical for Giolito to talk about class if he “probably cheated.”
Donaldson added that he and Giolito spoke in the parking lot after Tuesday’s game, and that Giolito “didn’t have much to say.”
Donaldson has not been shy about calling out pitchers he believes have been cheating. He not only feels he’s justified in doing so, but is definitely convinced that the falling spin rates across the league are vindication for him in some ways. Don’t expect him to stop now.
The back-and-forth between Donaldson and Giolito may not be over. The two division rivals are scheduled to meet 12 more times this season, including in Minnesota next week. The odds are good that these two will face each other again, at least on the field.
Lucas Giolito ripped Josh Donaldson after his Chicago White Sox beat Donaldson’s Minnesota Twins 7-6 on Tuesday night.
Donaldson slugged a 2-run home run off Giolito in the top of the first inning to put Minnesota up 2-0. As he got towards home plate, Donaldson started rubbing his hands together. Then as he crossed the plate, he appeared to say “it’s not sticky anymore.”
Donaldson seemed to be suggesting Giolito was using illegal foreign substances before but not anymore since the crackdown. Donaldson has previously accused another AL ace of using foreign substances.
Giolito allowed just one more run over the next five innings and ended up getting the win. After the game, he had some words for Donaldson.
“He’s a f–king pest,” Giolito said of Donaldson. “That’s kind of a classless move. If you’re going to talk s—, talk s— to my face. Don’t go across home plate and do all that, just come to me.”
Giolito also went “scoreboard” on Donaldson.
“We won. The W’s next to my name. They’re in last place.”
You can’t argue with that. But you do know that Donaldson is happy about the crackdown, that’s for sure.
Major League Baseball’s planned crackdown on pitchers using illegal substances has some hitters questioning which pitchers have been getting away with things for a while.
Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson raised suspicion about New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, questioning whether a recent drop in Cole’s spin rate was linked to a report about minor leaguers being suspended for using illegal substances. According to Baseball Savant, Cole’s spin rate was down on Thursday on all his pitches, but most notably a 125-RPM decrease on his fastball.
“Is it coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rate numbers went down after four minor leaguers got suspended for 10 games?” Donaldson said, via Dan Hayes of The Athletic. “Is that possible? I don’t know. Maybe. At the same time, with this situation, they’ve let guys do it.”
Cole has been linked to using illegal substances before, but there’s never been any proof. Still, if nothing else, this outlines the level of suspicion around the game among hitters. MLB is planning a serious crackdown on this, and it sounds like that will be welcomed by position players. That’s especially true if this level of suspicion is normal around the game.
Kevin Mather went viral on Sunday for comments he gave during a meeting with a Rotary Club in Washington, and his careless honesty ended up costing him his job. Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson is actually appreciative of Mather for sharing all the information.
Donaldson, who won AL MVP with Toronto in 2015 and is entering his second season with the Minnesota Twins, tweeted a statement Monday about Mather. He said he was sincerely grateful for Mather’s honesty.
What are the statements Mather shared publicly that everyone knew but never had full proof of? Likely the service time manipulation used by clubs.
Top players have filed grievances over being kept in the minor leagues too long. Players lose those grievances. Kris Bryant was a recent example of this happening and blasted MLB over it. Over and over we see teams keep top young prospects in the minors for what seems to be unnecessary lengths of time. The clubs all use excuses like “the player needs to work on his defense” or something else, before being promoted. Then, magically, the same player who was not good enough to be on the roster for Opening Day, gets called up in late April, when it will allow the team to keep the player for an extra year before they hit free agency.
It’s a stupid game that we all know happens, but it is nearly impossible to prove. Now with Mather’s comments, there is direct proof of this. Mather literally said that the fans would see one Mariners pitcher in April, but in the middle of the month, not at the start of the season. He said clearly that his plan for outfielder Julio Rodriguez was to keep him in the minors for 2021. And he admitted that none of the team’s top prospects were going to get called up last year, no matter what!
One of the biggest issues with MLB is that free agency is structured so that teams are NOT incentivized to open the season with their best prospects on the active MLB roster. Instead, they are incentivized to wait a few weeks before calling up the player, so that they retain an extra year of team control for that player before said player can enter free agency. It’s a bad system that all teams take advantage of, although the Padres recently bucked the trend and were rewarded.
The system needs to be changed. The problem is twofold though: MLB teams will always work to find loopholes in rules that will help them. Two, if an MLB team says they want a prospect to work on some skill before bringing them up, it’s very hard to argue with their development strategy. It’s not as if players don’t need development; they do. But it’s so obvious what a club is doing when a player who was tearing up spring training like Bryant gets sent down to the minors for only three weeks before getting called up.
Josh Donaldson is clearly no fan of umpire John Tumpane.
The Minnesota Twins slugger took to Twitter on Monday to throw shade at Tumpane, who was behind home plate for Game 2 of the ALCS between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays. Tumpane called Astros outfielder Michael Brantley out on strikes on a third-inning pitch from Rays righty Charlie Morton that seemed to be slightly off the plate and away.
Donaldson responded to the call by saying that Tumpane was one of the worst umpires in the game.
Tumpane is one of the younger umpires in baseball at just 37. He is also known for having a fairly generous strike zone. Ironically, Tumpane has actually elicited accusations before of having a bias in favor of the Astros, not their opposition.
Now in the twilight of his MLB career, Miguel Cabrera is definitely trying to enjoy the time he has left.
During a first-inning at-bat in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tigers slugger could be seen chirping at the Twins dugout. Dan Hayes of The Athletic revealed that Cabrera was talking to Josh Donaldson, asking him jokingly why he was not playing. Cabrera also hilariously turned to Twins manager Rocco Baldelli to ask why Donaldson sitting.
Cabrera and Donaldson are both a pair of former AL MVPs. The former is still an everyday player for the Tigers. But the latter has missed time with a calf strain this season and has come off the bench ever since returning.
In any case, Cabrera is really letting his personality show this year, and we absolutely love to see it.
Josh Donaldson’s arrival will bring some other changes to the Minnesota Twins’ infield.
Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic reported on Monday that Minnesota’s signing of the ex-All-Star third baseman means that slugger Miguel Sano will move from the hot corner to first base. Gleeman adds that Sano has been working out this offseason at both first and third, which was the case last year too.
Sano, 26, hit .247 last season with career-highs in home runs (34) and RBIs (79) despite playing in just 105 games. He started 91 of those games at third but also saw some time at first and has gotten a total of 26 starts there to this point of his career. Gleeman does note that many have been predicting a shift to first base for Sano since he was a teenager.
With Nelson Cruz entrenched as the designated hitter on a team that won 101 games last season, keeping Sano’s bat in the lineup full-time like this will ensure plenty of offensive firepower for the Twins in 2020 as well. They should be a handful on the other side of the ball too.