The World Anti-Doping Agency can get bent

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WADA logo.jpgThe World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a statement yesterday, once again taking baseball to task for its PED policies.  They do this every year, and as it always is, this year’s statement is stupid and self-serving and deceptive.  I don’t consider myself a PED apologist, but given my thoughts and writings on the subject I understand why I get called that all the time. I thus understand that a lot of you may not grant me much credibility if I were to sit here and rip WADA the way they deserve to be ripped.

But Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan is absolutely no PED apologist (he and I have had multiple friendly disagreements on the subject in the past) so you should take his words really, really seriously when he tears WADA a new one:

WADA blitzed the public with half-truths, knowing full well that if any
sport dare argue, it would look like it was trying to hide something.
An organization full of blowhards and self-important ninnies became the
standard bearer in drug testing by using that scare tactic, and now,
sadly, its hollow principles exist not for the good of sport but
itself. No wonder WADA is so tight with the Olympic movement. They get
off on the same self-serving values.

And Jeff offers much, much more along those lines. A point he makes that almost no one else ever seems to make: WADA is in the business of selling stuff. Specifically, their own, self-proclaimed ideal anti-doping program. It makes them millions a year. Baseball won’t bend over for WADA, however, and that makes the organization very, very angry. It makes them do things like be overly-critical of baseball despite the fact that it now has a pretty damn robust testing regime. No, not as robust as WADA would like, but if WADA had its way athletes’ diets would consist of WADA-approved non-PED-certified paste and they would have their blood drawn under threat of imprisonment.

Check out Jeff’s column today and remember it the next time someone who doesn’t have anything to do with baseball — especially someone with their own financial agenda and an almost non-existent grasp of the concept of civil liberties — starts pontificating about the game’s terrible, terrible PED problem.

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).