Revisiting Pete Rose

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Since it was so much fun the other day, let’s run out one more ground ball on the whole Pete Rose/reinstatement/Hall of Fame discussion.

A clear majority of the 134 and counting comments to that article were in favor of Pete Rose being reinstated and voted into the Hall of Fame.  A majority of those comments — echoing Mike Schmidt’s own defense of Rose — trotted out some variation of “how can you not let Pete in when all of the evil, evil steroids users are allowed to live and play baseball and eat pie and kick puppies and do all of the awful things they do?!!” [note: people didn’t actually say that; most comments were far more impassioned].

Lost in all of this — and brought to my attention by reader Jason Fisher — is the fact that Pete Rose is not some being separate and apart from the business of steroids.  Or do you not remember Tommy Gioiosa?

Gioiosa says Rose listened with glee whenever his bodybuilder buddy talked about the fights he started in ‘roid rages. Rose also would watch him shoot up and ask questions about what he was using. Good stuff, Gioiosa would reply. Parabolin. Human growth hormone. A German extract from the pituitary gland of monkeys. Pete had been tempted to take a shot himself, especially in 1985 and 1986 when he was losing bat speed. But he told Gioiosa it was too late to try something new. (Rose, through a spokesman, declined comment.)    

How about Paul Janzen, the steroids dealer who, according to the Dowd Report, became Rose’s primary bet-placer?

In the middle of February 1987, Rose invited Janszen and Marcum to come to his home in Florida while he was at Spring training. Janszen and Marcum accepted the invitation . . . They stayed for six weeks at Rose’s rented house in Tampa, Florida.  Janszen had quit his job at the Queen City Barrel Company and was essentially living off the proceeds of his steroid business.

I have no idea if Rose ever used steroids as a player.  In fact, I actually kinda doubt that he did for the same reason Gioiosa says Rose declined to shoot up: he was too old and even Rose knew it would be too little too late.

We do know, however, based on ESPN’s reporting and the Dowd Report, that he worked out at a gym that he knew to be a hub of steroids users and dealers, many of whom he was very close friends with. One of the dealers was such a close friend of Rose’s that he actually lived in Rose’s house and was entrusted with running Rose’s illegal gambling and tax evasion activities (Janszen placed bets for Rose and brought him his unreported cash in brown paper bags from card and autograph shows).  We also know, again, based on the same sources, that Rose turned a blind eye to steroid use on the Reds teams he managed, going so far as to openly joke with unnamed steroid user on his team, telling him in front of reporters that he should talk about “what steroids can do for you.”

Maybe this doesn’t change anyone’s ultimate opinion regarding whether or not Pete Rose should be reinstated or allowed entry into the Hall of Fame.  It should, however, make you think twice about casting Rose as some greater moral and ethical actor than ballplayers who have been associated with steroids.  He was around it. He tolerated it. He joked about it. His close friend said he was even tempted to use.

To Pete Rose, steroids appeared to be just another one of those illegal things with which he had a certain comfort level.  How, then, they can be employed as the definitive moral differentiator between Rose and, say, Barry Bonds is beyond me.

UPDATE:  Some further discussion of all of this from Mr. Fisher can be found on this blog post, under the Barry Bonds heading.

Bryce Harper on potential $400 million contract: “Don’t sell me short.”

Bryce Harper
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.

When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.

During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.

Frankie Montas out 2-4 months after rib resection surgery

Chicago White Sox pitcher Frankie Montas throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Per Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA, the Dodgers announced that pitching prospect Frankie Montas will be out two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery to remove his right first rib.

The Dodgers acquired Montas from the White Sox in a three-team trade in December 2015 that also involved the Reds. The 22-year-old made his big league debut with the Pale Hose last season, allowing eight runs on 14 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 15 innings across two starts. Montas had spent the majority of his season at Double-A Birmingham, where he posted a 2.97 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 48 walks in 112 innings.

MLB.com rated Montas as the 95th-best prospect in baseball, slipping a few spots from last year’s pre-season ranking of 91.

Athletics acquire Khris Davis in trade with Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers' Khris Davis swings on a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash
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The Brewers’ rebuild continues, as the club announced on Twitter the trade of outfielder Khris Davis to the Athletics in exchange for catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that the A’s have designated pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Davis.

Davis, 28, was the Brewers’ most valuable remaining trade chip. He blasted 27 home runs while hitting .247/.323/.505 in 440 plate appearances this past season in Milwaukee. Adding to his value, Davis won’t become eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2019 season. In Oakland, Davis will give the Athletics more reliability as Coco Crisp was injured for most of last season and is now 36 years old. Though he doesn’t have much of a career platoon split, Davis split time in left field with the left-handed-hitting Gerardo Parra last season. It’s unclear if the A’s will utilize him in a platoon as well.

With Davis out of the picture, Domingo Santana is a leading candidate to start in left field for the Brewers, GM David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Nottingham, 20, started the 2015 season in the Astros’ system but went to the Athletics in the Scott Kazmir deal. He hit an aggregate .316/.372/.505 at Single-A, showing plenty of promise early in his professional career. With catcher Jonathan Lucroy on his way out of Milwaukee, the Brewers are hoping Nottingham can be their next permanent backstop.

Derby, 21, made his professional debut last season after the Athletics drafted him in the sixth round. Across 37 1/3 innings, he yielded seven runs (five earned) on 24 hits and 10 walks with 47 strikeouts. He’s obviously a few years away from the majors, but the Brewers are looking for high upside.

Yankees, Aroldis Chapman avoid arbitration at $11.325 million

Aroldis Chapman
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees and closer Aroldis Chapman have avoided arbitration, settling on an $11.325 million salary for the 2016 season. It is the lefty’s third and final year of arbitration eligibility.

Chapman had filed for $13 million while the Yankees countered at $9 million, so he gets slightly more than the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

With the Reds this past season, Chapman posted a 1.63 ERA with 33 saves and a 116/33 K/BB ratio over 66 1/3 innings. The Reds have opted to rebuild, so they traded him to the Yankees this offseason in exchange for four minor leaguers. Chapman, who turns 28 at the end of February, will make for a fearsome 1-2-3 punch in the back of the Yankees’ bullpen along with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.