Is Mark McGwire being treated differently than other PED confessors?

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As Mark McGwire continues to be called a liar and a fraud for his claim that he took steroids because he was injured and not because he thought they’d enhance performance, it’s probably worth remembering another player’s comments about his PED use:

“I was injured . . . I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as
possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I
tried human growth hormone . . . This is it — two days out of my life; two days out of my
entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list. I wasn’t looking for an edge. I was looking to heal. If I
have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope
that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days
of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and
dedication.”

I just wanted to heal? I only took it for two days?  If anything, this player was even more cavalier about it than McGwire. And that wasn’t a personal statement by the way. It was a written statement released through his agent. Anyone know who it was?

Why, it was Andy Pettitte, and that was his statement after being outed in the Mitchell Report two years ago.

And I’m just as fine with Andy Pettitte’s statement as I am with McGwire’s. Credible? No. But I don’t believe that they owe me apologies or explanations. I do believe, however, that anyone who is currently taking Mark McGwire to the woodshed for claiming that PEDs didn’t help him is obligated to conform those opinions to something close to what they said about Andy Pettitte two years ago.

I’ve searched a bit, and so far the only one I can find who slammed both of them is Mike Lupica, who in 2007 accused Pettitte of “crocodile tears” and yesterday compared McGwire to Bill Clinton and Marion Jones.  I disagree with him in both instances, but good for him for consistency at least.  Most other writers praised Pettitte — often quite effusively — for his candor, despite the fact that just over a year before he was on the record lying about it. The issue certainly doesn’t continue to dog him.

It’ll be interesting to see how quickly people jump off the “McGwire is still lying” train and start to treat him like a normal everyday hitting coach the way they treat Pettitte like a normal, everyday starting pitcher.

2017 Winter Meetings Preview

Craig Calcaterra
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — The baseball world has descended on the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World for the 2017 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

The two biggest names on the market — Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton — have found new homes, but so far only 33 of baseball’s 249 free agents have signed, almost all of them minor. Still looking for a home: Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, CC Sabathia, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Greg Holland and many, many more. In early November we ran down the top free agents, position-by-position, to help you get a jump on who is available and what your team is looking at as it seeks to fill its needs.

It’s not just players looking for homes this week, however. It’s teams looking to make up for their failures in the Ohtani and Stanton derbies. The Cardinals and Giants both went big to get Stanton and came up empty. The Giants were likewise in Ohtani, but no dice. Baseball’s worst team in 2017 is obviously willing to spend some money to improve, and now they will look elsewhere to spend it. The Red Sox weren’t in on those two, but since it’s biggest rival landed Giancarlo Stanton, GM Dave Dombrowski will no doubt be kicking the tires hard on J.D. Martinez or Eric Hosmer to try to keep pace. The Mariners acquired a lot of international pool money in their quest for Ohtani, but they could still use a starting pitcher or two, so perhaps they may look at, say, Jake Arrieta? Lance Lynn? Yu Darvish? Well, they should, but who knows if they will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is a thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. The Marlins already traded Stanton, but their fire sale does not seem to be over. Could they deal the newly-acquired Starlin Castro? Christian Yelich? Marcel Ozuna? Bet on yes, and bet on any team wishing to spend prospects instead of free agent cash to take what Miami is unloading. Other potential trade candidates: Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, Rays starter Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria and Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Trade deals and free agent negotiations take place behind closed doors at the Swan and Dolphin. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year there are six new men at the helm: Dave Martinez in Washington, Mickey Callaway with the Mets, Gabe Kapler — Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager — in Philly, Alex Cora in Boston, Aaron Boone with the Yankees and Rob Gardenhire with the Tigers. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun. Or if any of them slug me for saying that they’re ugly.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings. The big one everyone is talking about this offseason is the possibility of a pitch clock.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene down here at Disney World, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event.