Fans won't turn on tainted Ortiz, writers will

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As the blog’s resident Red Sox fan, this sucks.

As someone who hates writing about steroids, this really sucks.

The latest leak accusing both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz of being
among the 104 major leaguers testing positive for PEDs in 2003 didn’t
come as a huge surprise. I sort of made a case
for Ramirez starting in early 2008 in this space when he was suspended
in May, but there was always at least as much reason to believe he was
a long-term cheater. The suspicions about Ortiz always made a lot of
sense. If Ortiz wasn’t such a personable guy, they probably would have
been louder.

The outing of Ortiz is just another step on the road to, if not
respectability, then at least tolerance for steroids. Dodger fans still
love Ramirez. Yankees fans have played forgive and forget with every
homer from Jason Giambi and now Alex Rodriguez. The Red Sox had been
remarkably unstained by steroid talk, even to the point of having fewer
minor leaguers suspended than any other franchise. But it was always a
given that cheaters played a role in the 2004 championship and likely
the one in 2007 as well. Red Sox fans have loved Ortiz too long to
start hating him now. They’ll cheer every homer just like they always
have.

At this point, it certainly seems as though the writers are the ones
with the biggest grudge against steroid users. In most cases, it’s the
same writers who were in better position than anyone to expose steroid
use in the 1990s and failed miserably. The fans are largely sick of the
topic and want to move on. MLB itself would certainly like to move on.

However, one thing that’s going to have to happen before we can
truly move on is the release of the 2003 list. It’s disgusting that
unethical lawyers are letting a name or two slip at a time. The whole
list is going to eventually come out and the sooner the better.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.