Tracy Ringolsby accuses Rangers of a "cover-up"

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A less-than-intellectually-inspired Tracy Ringlosby column today about Ron Washington
and the Rangers [I’ve deleted Ringolsby’s unnecessary paragraph breaks
because I think readability is more important than faux drama]:

Washington is an engaging personality. He has developed a strong bond
with the Rangers players in his three years on the job. He’s even won
over most of the critics he once faced in the Dallas-Fort Worth media
because of his straightforward approach. But some things can’t be
ignored. Washington crossed that line last July when he dabbled with
cocaine. Washington and the Rangers tried to cover it up. They could
not, however, hide it forever. And it finally came out on Wednesday . .
. Face it, there was enough concern over what Washington did that the
manager and the team tried to hide it. They were exposed this week and
tried to put on a happy face. It’s called whistling in the dark.

Was this really a “cover-up”?  Because from where I’m sitting, it was a
situation in which an employee’s drug test results were kept in-house.
Which is exactly what should be done with employee drug tests. Indeed, model
federal drug-free workplace guidelines
set forth pretty strict
confidentiality rules for this sort of thing absent express written
consent by the employee to the contrary (which is why PED results are released for players).  For their part, the Rangers
can do whatever they want with this stuff, but I’m guessing that they
don’t have an “issue press release when drug test results come back”
policy. Nor should they.

But hey, maybe Ringolsby has a point here. To prove it, I’m going to go
ask FOX and whatever bankruptcy receiver has possession of the Rocky
Mountain News’ old files for copies of Ringolsby’s employee drug tests
dating back to, oh, 1978 or so.  I’ll let you know if I get them. Or if,
as was the case with Ron Washington, a cover-up is afoot.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).