Jose Caballero has had an up-and-down professional baseball career. Jose was drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Originally from Panama, Jose went to Chipola College in Marianna, Florida. Maybe you have never heard of Chipola College, but you definitely have heard of Jose Bautista, Russell Martin, and Patrick Corbin. All 3 of those guys attended Chipola College.
Cabby's 2023 season for the Mariners has gone about as good as a 26-year-old rookie's can go. His slash line is .240/.371/.340, with 13 extra-base hits and 25 stolen bases. His 25 steals are tied for 7th in the American League, and second on the team behind Julio Rodriguez (34). Jose is 4th on the team in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at 2.7. Cabby ranks 3rd in the A.L. in "Hit By Pitches" (16), with Mariners 1B Ty France (26) leading the AL.
With the Mariners' struggles this season in the infield, Jose has been a welcomed addition. But not every person in Major League Baseball feels that way.
For the 2023 season, Major League Baseball implemented "Pace of Play" rule changes that have dramatically altered the game. But the one rule we are going to focus on today is the pitch clock. Pitchers have 15 seconds between pitches with no baserunners on, and 20 second with baserunners on. Batters must be ready with 8 seconds to go, or an automatic strike will be given. Batters also get one timeout per at bat. The Minor Leagues have been experimenting with this since 2015.
Back on June 20th, the Mariners faced Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees in the Bronx. Jose's manipulation of the pitch clock got under Cole's skin, resulting in Cole throwing his fastest pitch of the night above Cabby's head. Caballero ends up striking out during this at-bat, but Cabby's mind tricks really show that Gerrit Cole is a crybaby. Yankees manager Aaron Boone was also chirping from the dugout. The Mariners went on to lose the game 3-1.
But wait! There is more whining from other teams even before the Cole Incident. On May 7th against the Houston Astros, Jose called a late timeout because he seemed to be getting "quick pitched". Astros catcher, and Mariner killer Martin Maldanado, did not like this, and got in Jose's face during his at-bat. Benches cleared, and that was about the end of that, or so we thought.
There is a lot to unpack here, but watch the above video, then come back to read this. Astros pitcher Framber Valdez drills Caballero, right after giving up an absolute bomb to Dylan Moore. down 6-2 in the top of the 5th, Valdez takes his frustrations out on nemesis Jose Caballero by drilling him with a fastball to the shin. The benches then cleared again with these two teams for the second time this season. It is easy to see why Framber Valdez is mad. The Astros dropped the first 2 games of the series, and he stunk it up in the 3rd game. The Mariners embarrassed the Astros on their own field, something the Mariners have not done since the Astros joined the AL West.
If you are not mad reading this yet, buckle up. Remember Joe Maddon? The guy who guided the Cubs to their first World Series win in 108 years? The guy who ever had a winning season with the Angels, despite having 2 of the best players ever on his squad? Well MLB Now, on MLB Network, has him on their show once a week, and he sure said some things that ruffled my feathers. The video is below, you will need to skip ahead to the 2:00 mark.
"You within your own group have to take charge of that. You within your own group have to say; Listen, we don't do that here. You're going to get somebody hurt, or the other team is going to eventually take charge of that, and that's what happened.- Joe Maddon, on MLB Now
The Mariners, themselves, need to talk to this young man, and make sure he does not do these kind of things, or other guys are going to get hurt."
Joe Maddon could not be more out of touch with this take. I hate it when pitchers intentionally throw at hitters. They are literally throwing an object as hard as they can at a person, and we have seen numerous injuries over the years from this. Using the baseball as a weapon should never be allowed. Joe Maddon was fired before the infamous Mariners / Angels brawl last season, but that started when the Angels intentionally threw at Julio Rodriguez. If you remember, Angels pitcher Archie Bradley suffered an elbow fracture falling off of the dugout wall to join the brawl.
The Mariners absolutely do not need to sit Jose Caballero down to change anything he does. Jose shouldn't change at all. What he is doing is well within the rules. He uses the pitch clock to his benefit. If what he was doing was against the rules, umpires would be giving him automatic strikes, and then he would have to alter how he plays the game. Gerrit Cole, the Houston Astros and Joe Maddon can whine and cry all they want, but Jose Caballero has done nothing wrong. As always, Go Mariners!