Plaschke blames Manny's slump on steroid withdrawal

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The L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke has been carving Manny Ramirez up since his PED suspension back in May, so you know he was just waiting for the right time to bring this kind of noise:

Something is wrong with Manny Ramirez. Something different than a hitch. Something more than a slump. 
Something is wrong here, something that might be lodged as deeply in
the head as in the hips, something that perhaps batting practice can’t
fix . . .

. . . Although the official explanations for his slump involve those habits,
and are technical and convoluted, those familiar with steroids quietly
submit one simple reason:

Ramirez trying to kill the ball to overcompensate for the fact that
he’s no longer juiced, attempting to show everyone that his previous
success was him and not steroids.

There are those who also wonder whether he is struggling with the loss
of that invincible feeling that steroids give hitters, a syndrome
commonly associated with those who are struggling to find themselves
after coming clean.

“Those familiar” with steroids submit one question?  “There are those” who wonder?  How on Earth do Plaschke’s editors allow him to hide behind that stuff?  He’s the only one in this article asking that question and wondering those things. He quotes no one, anonymous or otherwise.  This is quite obviously Bill Plaschke and Bill Plaschke alone making such an accusation, yet he he’s not willing to simply say it without couching it as the accusations of others.

Why? Probably because he’s a writer who knows absolutely nothing about what causes or ends slumps, be they by ex-PED users or otherwise.  He wants to make Ramirez the goat of this Dodgers’ team, and he wants to continue to slam him for his PED use despite the fact that everyone else has moved on.  But hey, if he can marry a slump to the ‘roids, it’s a current story that accomplishes both of his goals.

Put differently, it’s hack work.  But then again, it’s Bill Plaschke, so what else did you expect?

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.