ESPN’s Howard Bryant, taking a page out of Joe McCarthy’s playbook, on baseball’s response to recent steroid stories (i.e. David Ortiz) and the hiring of Mark McGwire:
Baseball responded curiously, if not brazenly. The league and the union both enthusiastically defended Ortiz without providing any evidence that could lead to his exoneration; and now, as the World Series is beginning, McGwire has resurfaced, with Selig’s exuberant blessing.
McGwire is not prohibited from working in baseball, and the Cardinals have broken no rules in hiring him. But he is today what he was in 2005 — a coward, accepting a job he knows he does not deserve.
Guilty until proven innocent; free to work but blackballed. That’s exactly how it went during the Red Scare. Is this really the level of discourse that will lead baseball out of the old era and into a new one? Thank goodness Bryant doesn’t have the kind of power McCarthy had.
Communism was a legitimate threat in the 1940s and 50s, but McCarthy and his ilk decided to (a) overstate the threat so as to induce an irrational panic; and (b) fight the threat on the most irrelevant and ineffective of playing fields. Steroids may or may not be a serious threat to the integrity of professional sports today, but Howard Bryant and his ilk are doing exactly the same thing.
As was the case with McCarthy, we’ll one day look back disapprovingly on this kind of rhetoric as well.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.