Roger Clemens indicted on federal charges

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After a nineteen month investigation, a federal grand jury has indicted Roger Clemens for lying under oath to Congress when he denied
taking performance-enhancing drugs. The charges Clemens faces are: one count of obstruction of Congress; three counts of making false statements, and two
counts of perjury. The indictment — which can be read here — cites 15 distinct instances of
Clemens obstructing Congress.

The charges arise out of Clemens’ February 13, 2008 hearing before a
Congressional committee during which he swore under oath that he did not
take performance-enhancing drugs and did not discuss
performance-enhancing drugs with his former trainer Brian McNamee, Andy
Pettitte and others.

Following Clemens’ testimony, Congress asked the Department of Justice to investigate Clemens’ statements, saying in a letter to the Attorney General
“that significant questions have been raised about Mr. Clemens’s
truthfulness.”  Among those questions were, according to the Committee,
“seven sets of assertions made by Mr. Clemens in
his testimony that appear to be contradicted by other evidence before
the committee or implausible.”  Specifically:

  • Clemens’
    testimony that he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs;
  • His statement that McNamee
    injected him with the painkiller lidocaine;
  • His statement that team trainers gave him
    pain injections;
  • His statement that he received many vitamin B-12 injections;
  • His statement that he
    never discussed HGH with Brian McNamee;
  • His statement that he was not at then-teammate Jose Canseco’s home during a party which took place in early June 1998; and
  • His statement that he was never told about George Mitchell’s
    request to speak to him prior to the release of the Mitchell Report.

In its referral to the DOJ, Congress also made reference to “additional
evidence on these matters,” which presumably meant needles,
blood-stained gauze and other items McNamee turned over to
federal prosecutors in January 2008, and which he claims were evidence
of his injecting Clemens with PEDs.

All of these assertions, as well as the needle and gauze evidence, has
been subject to scrutiny by the grand jury which convened in early
2009.  DNA testing has been performed. Multiple witnesses including
McNamee, Andy Pettitte and Jose Canseco have testified. It is suspected
that many others have as well, including former major league pitcher
Jason Grimsley, former gym owner Kelly Blair and former New York Mets
clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. And now, after months of collecting evidence, the grand jury has issued
an indictment.

As I have written previously and will continue to note as the
case proceeds towards trial, an accusation does not necessarily make a
conviction likely, especially in a perjury case, especially in this
perjury case.  Many of Clemens’ statements are exceedingly difficult to
square with known facts and common sense. At the same time, many of the
witnesses against Clemens already face credibility issues, Brian
McNamee chief among them
.  Even if you believe, as I am inclined to,
that Clemens was not truthful during his Congressional testimony,
convicting him of perjury will be no easy feat.

But that is what trials are for and a trial in this case, if one ever
occurs, will not take place for a very, very long time. In the meantime,
Roger Clemens has a date with federal agents, a finger print ink
pad and a mug shot photographer. Because he is about to be criminally
charged

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.