No, Bonds, Sosa and Clemens aren't going to apologize

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I have head-full of other Mark McGwire thoughts driving me insane this morning, but those will come later. At the moment let’s address a sentiment I’ve heard over and over since yesterday afternoon, and that’s that now McGwire has offered up his mea culpa, it’s time for Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens to do likewise.  Interesting thought, but if you think that’s going to happen any time soon, you’re dreaming.

Let’s dispense with Bonds and Clemens quickly:  they can’t and won’t for legal reasons.  Barry Bonds is still being prosecuted — however slowly that prosecution is going — for perjury related to this denial before a grand jury of knowingly taking steroids. Due to the non-cooperation of a key witness and the fact that the feds have had a huge portion of their evidence against him tossed out, he has an excellent chance of skating on the charge. Why on Earth would he do anything at this point to screw that up?  If Bonds ever talks — and it’s not a given that he has the slightest desire to do so — it will come years from now.

Same goes for Clemens. He’s embroiled in approximately eleventy-seven variations of the same civil lawsuit against Brian McNamee, each of which depends upon him either proving that he didn’t take steroids or defending charges that he did.  Add to that the fact that the feds still purport to be investigating him for perjury in connection with his Congressional testimony and he has every reason to either stay quiet about this or to keep claiming that he’s as pure as the driven snow. If Clemens ever admits to using PEDs it will be under pain of torture or, given that he seems to be something of a delusional whack-job, from the top of a clock tower while holding a sniper’s rifle or something.

Sammy Sosa is a more interesting case. He has no legal reason preventing him from coming clean. As I’ve said before, his congressional testimony bordered on brilliant in terms of how he was able to mislead without technically lying (and the only reason he was able to do this is because Congress refused to ask even the most basic of followup questions).  Still, there’s nothing really compelling him to admit to anything now either. His one foray into the public spotlight recently resulted in something close to a p.r. disaster, turning him into more of a joke than a figure poised for some kind of redemption. He’s not a candidate for any coaching jobs or any other official position with baseball. McGwire is the canary in the coal mine for Hall of Fame juicers, so whether Sammy Sosa ever makes it to Cooperstown is more dependent upon what happens with McGwire than himself, so there’s no reason to come clean in the interests of lobbying.

Still, he’s Sosa and Sosa is kind of weird, so I could see him holding some Canseco-esque press conference that no one clamored for and offering up details of his life that no one truly wants.  It might be fun actually.

Mark McGwire came clean and apologized for one reason and one reason only: he wants back in the game of baseball, and given his particularly troubling Congressional testimony in 2005, baseball won’t accept him — and frankly, he couldn’t perform his job — unless he said something about it.

Bonds, Clemens and Sosa don’t have that sort of thing staring them in the face, so don’t hold your breath waiting for them to say anything about anything any time soon.

Diamondbacks working on a deal with Tyler Clippard

at Citi Field on July 28, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
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Last week Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart revealed that he was interested in signing free agent reliever Tyler Clippard and now Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides have “made progress toward a deal.”

Piecoro notes that by trading Aaron Hill and his remaining contract to the Brewers the Diamondbacks created a bit of payroll flexibility that they could use to sign Clippard.

Clippard has a long history of excellent work as both a setup man and closer, but his raw stuff and secondary numbers have declined even though his ERA remained very good at 2.92 last season for the A’s and Mets. His strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 8.1 per nine innings, which is drop of about 25 percent from 2009-2014.

Two elite Cuban players defect

cuba hat
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Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it. UPDATE: Here it is.

Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.

Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.

 

Indians close to signing ex-Nationals reliever Craig Stammen

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Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.