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Let’s make sure our attacks on Sammy Sosa make sense

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Rick Morrissey of the Sun-Times is getting the jump on the 2013 Hall of Fame insanity, and is coming out strongly opposed to Sammy Sosa’s candidacy:

What’s that? You’d like to see solid evidence of past drug use on Sosa’s part? Well, there is the New York Times report that he tested positive for PEDs in 2003. And you might recall the way he conveniently forgot how to speak English during a 2005 congressional hearing about steroids in Major League Baseball. Through an interpreter, he said he never had used “illegal performance-enhancing drugs.’’

I’m kind of exhausted over all of the Hall of Fame stuff from the past few weeks so I’ll let most of this pass, but I really do get annoyed at the criticism of Sosa for using an interpreter and speaking his native language at the 2005 hearings.

I would never, ever, ever let a client of mine testify under oath, speak to law enforcement or to speak in any other context where legal jeopardy might attach in anything other than his native language.  It’s just way too dangerous. As we’ve seen with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the real point of the various steroids hearings over the years was to create perjury traps. Perjury charges often turn on nuance, tense and the smallest interpretation of what the speaker is saying.  One tiny misstatement and you could be facing jail time. Why risk it?

Go after Sosa as a PED user if you believe that to be critical.  Heck, go after his merits as a ballplayer, which aren’t nearly as strong as a lot of people think even if you ignore the PEDs.  But really, don’t go after the guy for speaking his native language when he was subpoenaed to Congress. You’d do the same damn thing in his shoes. And if you say otherwise, you’re either lying or you’re unduly comfortable with taking risks with your freedom.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.

Kyle Schwarber is the frontrunner to bat leadoff for the Cubs

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 07:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 7, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon says C/OF Kyle Schwarber is the frontrunner to bat leadoff for the team this season, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Schwarber, 23, has hit out of the leadoff spot only eight times in his young career, but the move up the batting order mostly just means more opportunities for him to swing his potent bat. He hit .246/.355/.487 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI in 273 plate appearances in his rookie season in 2015.

Schwarber suffered serious injuries early in the 2016 season when he collided with teammate Dexter Fowler in the Arizona outfield. He tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, which everyone thought ended his 2016 season entirely. However, Schwarber returned for the start of the World Series against the Indians. In 20 plate appearances over five games, Schwarber contributed six singles, a double, and three walks.