When is Ron Villone going to apologize to Mark McGwire?

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Ron Villone headshot.jpgEventually people will start playing baseball again and all of this will be forgotten. Until then we’ll have old timers like Fergie Jenkins saying silly things like this:

Ferguson Jenkins says Mark McGwire owes an apology to all those pitchers who gave up his home runs. The Hall of Fame ace sent an open letter* to The Associated Press
this week, telling the former home-run king: “You have not even begun
to apologize to those you have harmed.”
“How many pitchers do you think he ended their careers by hitting numbers of home runs of them?”

“You have yet to apologize to all the pitchers you faced while juiced,”
Jenkins wrote. “You altered pitchers’ lives. You may have shortened
pitchers careers because of the advantage you forced over them while
juiced. Have you thought about what happened when they couldn’t get you
out and lost the confidence of their managers and general managers? You
even managed to alter the place some athletes have achieved in record
books by making your steroid-fueled run to the season home run record.”

Best tidbit from the story: STATS LLC researched and found out that 51 pitchers gave up  homers to McGwire in what
turned out to be their final major league seasons, including Bert Blyleven and Donnie Moore.  I can only assume that Murray Chass and that crowd will now change their Hall of Fame vote for Blyleven and start blaming Donnie Moore’s suicide on McGwire.

Of course what STATS LLC has not done is analyze how many home runs McGwire hit off pitchers who were juicing.  For example, he hit two dingers off of Roger Clemens in his career, so I assume he need not apologize there. He hit five off Ron Villone, who was named in the Mitchell Report. Other Mitchell Report alumni who served up home runs to McGwire: Kevin Brown, Jim Parque, Darren Holmes and Steve Woodard.

Given how cursory and incomplete the Mitchell Report was, and given that pitchers have, if anything, been overrepresented in positive PED tests since 2004, there are no doubt many, many more to whom McGwire need not apologize. I’d compile a list of pitchers who should apologize to McGwire — ‘roiders who struck Mac out and prevented him from hitting home runs — but that would be a pretty extensive undertaking.

How about this: instead of wasting our time telling everyone who should apologize to whom, we just drop this pathetic, sanctimonious game, accept that the era in which Mark McGwire played was rotten with steroid users and figure out how to put it all in historic context?  Or is that too immature?

*Open letter?! Arrrrgghh!

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.