Darren Daulton talks some sense

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Daulton.jpgRetired Phillies catcher Darren Daulton believes in alchemy, auras, telepathy, energy transfers, astral planes, planetary ascension, and parallel universes.  He believes that he had an had out of body experiences while playing at Wrigley Field one day. He believes that the universe is created and sustained by numerical synchronicities — the number 11 is particularly important in his life — and
that all matter is charged with extradimensional vibrational energy. He believes
that his moods have altered the weather before, that the pyramids were created by a lost
civilization — or possibly aliens — and that people with knowledge of the workings of the
universe will ascend to a higher plane of existence on Dec. 21, 2012, at 11:11 a.m.

And in the wake of the McGwire business, he’s talking more sense about steroids than anyone:

I think it gives a real good pulse of the American people . . . I mean, if I was a foreign country and wanted to take over this
country, I’d get a prescription for steroids and stand at the border
and wave them, and then watch the American people fold . . .

 . . . Finding out whether or not a guy does steroids or not, I could never
understand this. There are a lot of things that a lot of people do
behind closed doors that they probably don’t want the public to know
about. Whether you’re cheating on your wife, your husband, or you’re
doing drugs, you don’t want your boss to know about something, you’re
hiding something from somebody, or you’re watching porn and you’re
masturbating. Whatever it is, everybody’s got one of these or they
wouldn’t be here, but it seems like everybody gets to cast the first
stone when somebody else is caught doing something, or allegedly
caught. It makes them feel better, and again, this is kind of the pulse
of the American ego, as long as we can point our finger at somebody,
we’re okay, we feel better about ourselves.

The fact that one of the biggest nuts in the hemisphere is saying the
most sensible things about steroids probably means something. Though
what it is I have no idea.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.