Bud Selig wins a big anti-PED Award

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Commissioner Bud Selig has been named the first recipient of Taylor’s Award,
presented by the Taylor Hooton Foundation to “an individual who has made a
major impact on efforts to educate and protect American youth from the
dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs.”

Couple thoughts:

1. Great for Bud! You’ve come a long way, baby!  Ten years ago he didn’t even know what a steroid was, and now he’s the bestest steroid fighter in all the land!

2. Major League Baseball is listed first under the “corporate sponsors” page on The Taylor Hooton Foundation website. In fact, MLB is a founding sponsor of the foundation, having given it a million bucks to get off the ground back in 2005. You know, back when baseball was freaking out over the fact that everyone realized that it didnt’ care about PEDs. Baseball continues to be a major funding source, of course.  I’m sure this is totally unrelated to the bestowing of the award, however.

3.  The Chairman of the Board of the Taylor Hooton foundation is Dr. Gary Wadler. You know Dr. Gary Wadler. He’s the World Anti-Doping Ageny chief who likes to kick baseball’s butt all over the place every time a new PED test comes out or some new testing procedure is announced.

There’s something circular about all of this, isn’t there?  WADA and the Taylor Hooton Foundation need baseball as a funding source and/or a target and Baseball needs the Taylor Hooton Foundation as a means of validation of its steroids policies.  Of course they’re going to give Selig an award to cement the relationship. If they didn’t, people might start to actually wonder what each party really does for the other, and that would be awful.

Not that this is unique to the sports/steroids world. I can’t tell you the number of boards, non-profits and charities to which I’ve been privy that have similarly symbiotic relationships with the corporations or governments they purport to bird-dog. They often exchange awards like this, usually in the course of banquets in which donors are shown what their money is getting them and the recipients are given a nice experience about which they can write in their next newsletter or annual report under headings like “accomplishments” or “community involvement.”

The only bad thing about it all — aside from the banquet chicken, which is always rubbery and cold — is if someone actually takes it seriously. Which I’m not, not should you. Because tomorrow baseball is going to go back to the same PED policies it has had for a few years now, tomorrow Gary Wadler and his people are going to go back to talking about how horrible those policies are, and all anyone will have gained out of this experience is a little P.R. and a dinner that tastes almost, but not entirely, unlike chicken.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.