Witness against Roger Clemens: "Who's Roger Clemens?"

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Yesterday we heard that the feds have subpoenaed a guy named Jeff Blair, who allegedly had the steroids goods on Roger Clemens. Last night, the guy said otherwise:

A former gym owner in the Houston area says he never supplied Roger
Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs and is looking forward to
meeting with a grand jury investigating whether Clemens lied to
Congress . . .

. . . Blair said Thursday night that he’s never met Clemens, any
members of the Clemens’ family or anyone representing Clemens,
including personal trainers or attorneys.

“I did not supply Roger Clemens (with) growth hormone,” Blair said.


(a) The feds forgot that the purpose of subpoenaing witnesses to a grand jury is to obtain evidence that helps their case, rather than hurts their case;

(b) The feds knew that, but realized all along that they really
don’t have a case at all and simply don’t want the grand jury to feel
like it was convened for nothing; or

(c) This Blair guy was going to spill the beans on Clemens, but then
Clemens and his lawyer showed up in the back of the hearing room with
Blair’s long lost brother from Sicily — Godfather II-style — after
which Blair decided to trot out this “I never knew no godfather. I got
my own family, senator” business.

Though the Godfather fan in me hopes that the Pentangeli option is
really what happened, I’m leaning (b) here. Sure, as is the case with
Barry Bonds I personally I think that Clemens did steroids and lied
about it, but I also think that for several reasons a perjury
prosecution of these two guys is both difficult and ill-advised.

In neither case — Bonds before the grand jury or Clemens before
Congress — did you have prosecutors actually asking concise questions
with an aim at truly figuring out what these guys knew. To the
contrary, they were exercises in P.R., and because of that the
questions that were actually asked to these men and the facts the
questioners had at their disposal were lazy and weak.

Go read the transcripts: Bonds played dumber than a bag of hammers,
despite the fact that he’s actually a fairly bright guy. Clemens went
on and on about his life story whenever he was asked anything
difficult. Neither was given particularly difficult questions which
they were required to answer in an unambigious fashion. To the
contrary, each was allowed to talk openly and loosely for long
stretches at a time.

Which may very well establish that they were being evasive. In order
to make a case of perjury, however, showing evasiveness is not enough.
A witness needs to be nailed down. To be given hard and unambiguous
followup questions. Neither of these guys faced any of those things
during their day in the spotlight, and their answers can be spun and
qualified in many ways by their lawyers.

That’s a black mark against the prosecution, and in light of it I’d
be shocked if either Bonds or Clemens ever go to trial, let alone gets
convicted of perjury.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.