Judge smacks Signature Pharmacy prosecutor

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You might recall Signature Pharmacy, the mail order drug store that was portrayed as steroid and HGH central back in 2007. In 2008, the Albany, New York prosecutor’s office brought charges against Signature and its owners. This despite the fact that Signature was in Florida. The charges were subsequently dismissed. While I have no idea what, exactly, Signature was doing, I felt at the time that Albany prosecutors going after a Florida company like this was steroids grandstanding of the worst kind.

Seems the judge handling the Signature owners’ civil rights lawsuit agrees with me, because he just smacked the Albany prosecutors down, and smacked them hard:

In denying Mr. Soares’s motion to dismiss the suit, the judge, Gregory
A. Presnell, used biting language to criticize Mr. Soares, saying he had
led a case riddled with flaws, including arrests that potentially were
illegal, as Mr. Soares sought to attract maximum media attention . . .

. . . He also described the extent to which the Albany district attorney’s
office sought to orchestrate media coverage for the raid, saying that
Mr. Soares and a top deputy on the case, Christopher Baynes, “appear to
have been focused in significant part on ensuring that plaintiffs’
arrests and the raids would be covered by the media.”

Perish the thought.

Now, if we can get this judge to weigh in on Jeff Novitzky and the prosecutors who are continuing to go after Barry Bonds despite a seeming critical lack of evidence, we’ll be getting somewhere.

Steroids are bad, mmm-kay, but the zeal with which their use and distribution has been pursued by law enforcement and the expense that has gone into such a pursuit far, far outweighs the danger they pose.  Here’s hoping this isn’t the last judge who understands this and shoves it up wazoo of overzealous, media-hungry, careerist prosecutors.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.