Roger Clemens brought this on himself

14 Comments

We can argue — as many have in the past — that Congress should never have been involved in the steroids business in the first place. Personally, I think their primary interest was grandstanding and I found it all distasteful.

But the hearings that led to Clemens’ testimony and now his indictment were certainly within Congress’ broad powers.  More importantly, however, it was Clemens who made himself such a fat and inviting target for their opportunism, and it has led to his downfall.

Congress’ interest in Clemens came on the heels of weeks of denials by
Clemens of the allegations against him contained in the Mitchell Report.
Specifically:

  • Within days of the December 13, 2007 report, Clemens lawyer, Rusty
    Hardin, attacked the credibility of Brian McNamee, Clemens’ primary
    accuser, calling him “a troubled and unreliable witness”;
  • On January 6, 2008, Clemens appeared on “60 Minutes,” vehemently denying that he ever took PEDs;
  • The following day Clemens filed a defamation suit against McNamee,
    claiming that his statements to Mitchell and his investigators were
    lies. The lawsuit was subsequently dismissed, with said dismissal being
    upheld by an appellate court earlier this year;
  • On that same day, Clemens held a bizarre press conference in which he
    played a recorded telephone conversation with Brian McNamee which, it
    appeared anyway, Clemens was trying to make McNamee out as a liar or a
    shakedown artist.
  • On January 28, 2008, Clemens’ agent, Randy Hendricks, released an
    18,000-word statistical report purporting to establish that Clemens’
    baseball career was subject to a typical year-to-year variation in
    performance, with the implication being that Clemens did not take PEDs (my analysis of that report here);

You could not have made yourself bigger piece of wriggling Congress bait if you took a year to draw up a plan to do so. George Mitchell is a former colleague of those guys. By so loudly declaring him to be incompetent (which Clemens was, in effect, doing) Clemens all but ensured a subpoena. 

And yes, I’ve heard it before: “but what if he really didn’t take PEDs!”  I get that, and I don’t think someone who didn’t do something should cop to it simply for PR purposes. But even if Clemens found it intolerable to admit to taking PEDS, he could have issued a simple denial and said a few words about how, while suing to clear his name was tempting, the benefits to such a course were minor (“I don’t need a court to tell me what I already know”) and the hassle extreme (a few choice — and true — words about how hard it is for a celebrity to sue for defamation would have done the trick).

But the Rocket protested too much, either because he received bad advice or because he was too bullheaded to see the pros and cons of various courses of action.  As a result, he was hauled before Congress.  As a result, all kinds of seedy muck from his personal life came out into the open.  All of this could have been avoided.

“Not giving in” is a mantra you hear from all of the best starting pitchers. And Clemens was certainly one of the best to ever have played the game.  But what makes one successful on the baseball diamond does not necessarily make one successful off it.  And Clemens is learning this the hard way.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Leave a comment

The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
7 Comments

You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.

Tony Clark is not happy so many players remain unsigned

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
13 Comments

We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”

Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.

These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
2 Comments

It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.