The Clemens-McNamee case gets even more pathetic

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You know you’ve done something wrong in this world when a guy who is famous for being (1) an admitted liar; (2) an admitted drug dealer; and (3) who was once implicated in an alleged date-rape drug incident (and lied to police about it) sues YOU for defamation of character . . . and HAS THE STRONGER CASE!

Lawyers for Roger Clemens filed a motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by Brian McNamee, on the grounds that Clemens and his representatives weren’t serious when they accused the former trainer of trying to shake down the seven-time Cy Young Award winner.

Clemens, lawyer Rusty Hardin and others also weren’t serious when they questioned McNamee’s mental state, wrote attorney Joe Roden in the motion filed in federal court in Brooklyn, according to a report Thursday in the New York Daily News.

“They are part of the public battle of words between the two camps, and in no way suggest to the average reader that McNamee is actually mentally unfit,” Roden wrote.

THAT’S the defense? “We didn’t really mean it! It was all P.R. stuff!”  Really?!

How about a simple filing that says “Mr. McNamee, who has been shown to be a pretty big slime ball in the past few years, cannot possibly say to this court that his reputation has been damaged as a result of all of this.  Because you have no case if you have no damages, the lawsuit should be dismissed.”  Fine, pay the lawyers extra to make it sound fancy, but that’s what Clemens should be saying.

Of course, Clemens hasn’t done a single thing he should have done since the Mitchell Report came out. If he had simply shut up about it all, he may be someone’s pitching coach right now.  But between his ham-fisted P.R. offensive and his ill-advised defamation suit — which revealed to the world that he was messing around on his wife with a severly damaged country music star, possibly while she was underage — he has done more to make himself look like a slimeball than Brian McNammee ever could.

Mark McGwire has a job. Andy Pettitte was just in a World Series parade. Roger Clemens can’t show himself in public and is getting sued by a lying drug dealer for having his good name besmirched.  And he’s losing!

Great moves, Rocket!

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.