UPDATE: Tony La Russa doesn't give a s— what you think

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La Russa McGwire.jpgUPDATE:  Readers who heard the un-bleeped version of the broadcast mentioned below are telling me that the expletive in question was “s—” and not “f—.”  I went with the latter earlier because that’s what the linked transcript said, but in hindsight and based on what the readers are telling me, I’m switching.  Whether that changes any of the below analysis in your mind is up to you.

Missed this yesterday somehow, but Tony La Russa has a response for people — like me — who think that his Sgt. Shultz routine with respect to steroids in Oakland and St. Louis is pretty dubious:

“Well they can believe it or not. I don’t really give a fuck shit to be honest. If they think that I’m lying, then they think I’m lying. I’ve tried to build my career on credibility and trust, that’s what we do with our players. I’m telling you – we ran a clean program. That’s the way it is. That’s what I say, that’s what I believe. If they believe differently, that’s America, they can believe anything they want to.”

That came in a radio interview on 101 ESPN in St. Louis with Bernie Miklasz yesterday.  A transcript of his comments — and there were many others — is here. The audio of the whole radio show is here.  It’s worth listening to all of it, but the blockquoted bit comes at the 13:10 mark.

You know that I have something approaching a “who cares” attitude about much of this, but I’m struggling to see why the same people who are so disgusted when Mark McGwire says something incredible (i.e. that he doesn’t think steroids helped his performance); seem to have no condemnation whatsoever for Tony La Russa’s completely baffling denial of reality.

Where is Jon Heyman on this? Where is Ken Rosenthal? Mike Lupica? Dan Shaugnessy?  Why doesn’t Tony La Russa get a scintilla of the heat that his former players get over this? In any other context, be it sports, government or business, the man in charge would be held to answer for the transgressions that occurred on his watch. But not La Russa.

I actually agree with 90% of what La Russa says regarding McGwire in this interview. And I completely understand both the intellectual and emotional reasons for why he defends Mark McGwire. But for him to continue to claim that he had no idea what was happening in his clubhouse without anyone accusing him of incompetence, willful ignorance or tacit complicity is utterly baffling to me.

The only conclusion I can draw is that those who claim L’affaire McGwire is such a big deal are not nearly as serious about the subject of steroids in baseball as they are in scoring easy points and trafficking in phony moral outrage.  Because if the outrage was real, it would be directed at Tony La Russa. And Bud Selig. And the owners, agents, managers, sponsors, reporters and everyone else who either knew about steroids or were willfully blind to the issue back in the day.

UPDATEFOX’s Kevin Hench is on the case at least.  

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.

J.R. Graham is in The Best Shape of his Life

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher J.R. Graham celebrates after the final out as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 12-2 in  a baseball game, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Twins won 12-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Twins reliever J.R. Graham has lost “roughly 30-40 pounds this offseason.” It’s not a result of workouts, though. Just a change in diet. Bollinger says that Graham cut out sugar, alcohol and foods heavy in carbs and focused on a high-protein diet with lots of salads, meats and vegetables.

That’s an awful lot of weight to lose in four months, but the dude is only 26 and guys in their 20s lose weight just by thinking about it. Which is so very annoying to those of us who aren’t guys in their 20s.

The real test, of course, will come when he is working out far more strenuously once spring training starts and gets into the season. Normal schmos like me can keep up that kind of diet without much of a hitch as long as we have the willpower. An athlete’s energy requirements are far greater and far more specialized, so he’ll need more fuel than he’s probably been getting this offseason. Word is, however, that professional sports teams have people on staff that, you know, have made monitoring that kind of thing their life’s work.

In the meantime:

“I can just feel the change,” Graham said. “The energy. Everything. I feel great. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate into spring. I know I shouldn’t have any problems because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. All that. So it’s really exciting.”

It’s very exciting indeed. Because, with that, Graham becomes the latest baseball player to be . . . In The Best Shape of His Life.