And Now we turn to the leakers

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Jonathan Littman at Yahoo! has been all over the steroids cases for years. Yesterday he reported that I’m not some lone nut out there wondering when people are going to start taking the leaks of the 2003 list seriously:

 

“This makes the leaks so much more troubling,” said Charles La Bella, a former U. S. attorney and chief of the criminal division for the Southern District of California who now practices criminal defense in San Diego. “The information shouldn’t have been seized. People have been unfairly tainted by something the courts have ruled should never have been made public.

“My guess is that somebody somewhere has to be looking at this as a leak investigation.”

But who’s doing the leaking?  No one is willing to openly speculate, but there are two passages in Littman’s piece which make me wonder if someone is trying to send a message about it all:

Peters said that a list of players who tested positive was created only after the government’s illegal search.

“Everyone talks of this list, like there was a list [of players who tested positive],” he said. “There was a spreadsheet [at the testing lab that contained every test result]. The government created a list, which it tried to disseminate.”

and

As for the consequences of the illegal search, Peters said he doesn’t know who committed the leaks. But he does have an idea of who created and printed the two- to three-page list of players who tested positive, the list that was circulated among at least a handful of attorneys and that resulted in the leaks.

“I have a strong suspicion the list was created by Novitzky,” he said.

Given that the illegal search could very well have been motivated to snag as many players up in this as possible, it would certainly make sense that a government lawyer or agent is doing the leaking.  That said, it’s probably worth remembering that there are a lot more people than merely the government folks who had access.

The league, the union, individual players and possibly other interested parties had representation in this long, drawn out case, and any number of those lawyers could have access to the list.  What’s more, we have to remember that it’s not a given that the leaks are motivated by a desire to out players as such.  Money could be a motivator. So too could spite or some personal reasons that have very little to do with baseball or steroids in the first place.  Remember Deep Throat? The most famous leaker in history was motivated primarily by his anger at being stepped over for a job.

Whoever it is, however, should be sleeping a little less soundly now that folks are openly speculating about his or her identity and making noises about flushing them out.  And that’s a very good thing.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.