You’ll recall last March that the New York Commission on Public Integrity charged New York’s governor, David Paterson, with violating state ethics laws when he got free tickets to the opening game of the 2009 World Series from the Yankees. The case has run its course now, and yep, the governor has been found guilty. He was fined $62,125 for soliciting, accepting and receiving five complimentary tickets to Game One of the 2009 World Series for himself, two aides, his son and his son’s friend. Shocking that there is corruption in Albany. Truly, truly shocking.
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my areas of expertise back in my shyster days was public ethics law. I represented a whole bunch of public officials who got into hot water over free tickets, golf outings, hotel stays, meals and all manner of other perks, bribes and assorted nastiness. I represented even more private businesses and individuals who wanted to do business with public officials and offered said tickets, golf outings, hotel stays, meals and all manner of other perks. It was easily the most fun I had as a lawyer (and this was my favorite case). When one of these guys tells you “really, I planned to pay for it the whole time!” they truly believe they’re the first ones to have come up with it. It’s adorable really.
Here’s my question with this case: were the Yankees charged? Because in all my old cases both the public official who took the gifts and the business or lobbyist or whoever offered the gift were charged. We called it the “one steak, two charges” rule. As in, both the provider and the consumer of said porterhouse was on the hook for the free meal. It was only when the public official was truly exerting pressure on someone for bribes or gifts that the provider was not in hot water too.
That could have been the case for the Yankees, but if Patterson was truly twisting the Yankees’ arm over some other bit of government business, you’d think he would be charged with something greater than merely accepting gifts. It’s also possible that the Yankees were let off the hook in exchange for their help in investigating Patterson (and it’s stated in the article that someone from the Yankees testified, though that could have been compelled testimony). I am surprised, however, that even at the time of the charges last spring we didn’t hear any more about the Yankees being in trouble.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.
The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.
CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Rich Dubroff reports that the Orioles are “searching everywhere” for outfield help. The club recently acquired L.J. Hoes from the Astros in exchange for cash considerations, throwing him into a stable of six outfielders that could potentially crack the Opening Day Roster.
Adam Jones, of course, will open the season in center field. But in the corner outfield and on the bench, Dubroff lists Hoes along with Dariel Alvarez, Junior Lake, David Lough, Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia. Both Lough and Reimold are eligible for arbitration — Lough for the first time, and Reimold for his third and final year — so it remains to be seen if the Orioles will retain both of them.
The Orioles could target outfield help in the Rule-5 draft, and they could also target outfielders in free agency. Gerardo Parra, acquired by the O’s in a trade with the Brewers at the trade deadline, remains a possibility but the team is reluctant to offer him more than two years.
MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Indians have signed catcher Anthony Recker to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Recker, 32, has spent the past three seasons with the Mets, compiling an aggregate .190/.256/.350 batting line with 15 home runs and 51 RBI in 432 plate appearances. He’ll serve as catching depth for the Indians.
Recker was selected by the Athletics in the 18th round of the 2005 draft. They then sent him to the Cubs in exchange for Blake Lalli in an August 2012 trade, and the Mets selected him off waivers from the Cubs in October 2012.
When last we posted about Yasiel Puig it was to pass along a rumor that the best player on his team wants him off of it. If that was true — and if this report is true — then expect that sentiment to remain unchanged:
Obviously this report is vague and there has not been, say, a police report or other details to fill it in. Perhaps we’ll learn more, perhaps Puig was misbehaving perhaps he wasn’t.
As we wait for details, however, it’s probably worth reminding ourselves that Puig is coming off of a lost season in which he couldn’t stay healthy, so trading him for any sort of decent return at the moment isn’t super likely. Which leads us to some often overlooked but undeniable baseball wisdom: you can be a distraction if you’re effective and you can be ineffective if you’re a good guy. You really can’t be an ineffective distraction, however, and expect to hang around very long.