That steroid list is a phony

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So there’s a website out there which purports to have the list of the
2003 drug test failures — the same list that gave us Alex Rodriguez
and Sammy Sosa. We’re not linking it or reproducing the names listed
there because it’s a fake. That fact was confirmed this morning by a
source who is definitely in a position to know. Anyone who gives it any
credence going forward is trafficking in baloney.

But you know what? We kind of suspected that it was fake beforehand.
Why? Because for starters, the site running it — something called
“Roto Info” — has zero reputation as a reliable news source. Really
zero — before now it has never to our knowledge reported anything, be
it good, bad or indifferent. Now it is shown to be untrustworthy, lazy
and irresponsible. For the moment let’s give them the benefit of the
doubt and say that they were merely passing this along as opposed to
having created it themselves. Even then, posting it with a weak
“unconfirmed” disclaimer as they did here does not
get the job done. Most bloggers have day jobs yet still manage to get
off their butts and get this stuff right. “Roto Info” should be no
different. The lesson: get your roto info from Rotoworld.

Second, the list consists of an overwhelming number of bigger names and
very few scrubs. This flies in the face of the information we have
learned from the Mitchell Report,
the Radomski and McNamee business and the testing results that have
been made public since 2003. Where are the Marvin Bernards, Tim Lakers,
Josias Manzanillos, Matt Francos, and Adam Piatts of the world?
Steroids are equal-opportunity, and the fact that this list is almost
entirely devoid of 23rd-25th roster slots puts lie to any notion of
legitimacy.

Third, the names are listed in team order, by division, going from east to west, AL to NL. On the eve of the Mitchell Report there was another fake list like this one.
It was in alphabetical order, and looked fishy for the same reasons.
While this isn’t necessarily suspicious in and of itself — we can
conceive of some reasons why the list could take on such an order — it
suggests someone being a little more methodical about it than might
appear in nature.

Finally, and perhaps most damningly, Jason Grimsley’s name is not on the list, and by all accounts it should be.
Indeed, our source’s debunking of this list specifically mentioned
Grimsley’s absence, and the absence of other known-positives, as the
clincher of its fraudulent nature.

If and when the real list ever surfaces, you can bet that we’ll be
on top of it. You can also bet that we’ll confirm it first. In the
meantime, we’ll be busy throttling the blogger who ran this nonsense
for doing even more to discredit the medium than has already been done.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.

Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?