Alex Rodriguez is not great at P.R. There’s no disputing that. He’s had a couple of flubs. He’s been involved in a few controversies. He has occasionally shot himself in the foot.
But does he really deserve the treatment he gets from Sports Illustrated today? The august S.I. goes with a slide show, outlining what are supposed to be A-Rod’s “most embarrassing moments.” A great many of the “incidents” however, don’t really qualify. Among them:
- Being demoted to eighth in the batting order in the 2006 ALDS. All players slump. But really: isn’t putting the mid-decade version of A-Rod eighth in the order more embarrassing for Joe Torre than A-Rod? It was a classic panic move by a guy who is lauded for being cool. How is that A-Rod’s problem?
- The “Ha!” or “I got it!” thing in Toronto when A-Rod yelled something to Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark to make him give up on a pop fly. Depending on whose story you believe it may not be the best sportsmanship, but A-Rod has his share of “all is fair in love and war” defenders. Many of the people mad at him for it were unwritten rules fanatics, and you know how I feel about the so-called unwritten rules. Not his finest hour, but I bet that stuff happens more often than we think.
- The opt-out: announcing A-Rod’s opt-out during the 2007 World Series was bad form. But are we sure that was A-Rod’s doing and not Scott Boras’? A-Rod famously negotiated his contract a few months later without Boras’ help. And he has since fired the guy. Just sayin!
- Dating Madonna: Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in a woman who was held up as a universal sex symbol for most of his adolescence.
- Dating Kate Hudson: Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in a woman who, for a good while there, was considered America’s sweetheart.
- Dating Cameron Diaz: Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in one of Hollywood’s leading actresses.
- Being trashed in Joe Torre’s book: Again, how does Torre’s failure to keep in the clubhouse that which should have stayed in the clubhouse A-Rod’s fault? The facts aren’t flattering, no, but they pale compared to Torre’s transgression in my mind.
- The centaur paining: Maybe I’m wrong here, but I thought that was debunked. Anyone?
- The Dallas Braden thing: Maybe I missed the meeting when this was all decided, but last I checked everyone thought Braden was being the jackwagon here.
I’ll give S.I. the steroids stuff (gotta hang your head when you’re caught cheating), the mirror-kiss photo in details (whoa) and the front-page-of-the-tabloid-with-the-stripper thing (gotta hang your head when you’re caught cheating), but it seems that most of the stuff on their list is either much ado about nothing or really someone else’s problem.
And really, there aren’t many things on that list that are as embarrassing as a respected publication like Sports Illustrated going all Bleacher Report with a theres-no-there-there photo slide show in an effort to maximize traffic by virtue of that which it claims is embarrassing.
As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.
This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.
Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.
Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.
These kind of after-the-ink-has-dried reports have to be taken with a grain of salt for a variety of reasons, but they’re fantastic conversation-starters …
Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the Cardinals “finished runner-up” to the Red Sox in the bidding for free agent left-hander David Price, who signed with Boston on Monday for a record seven years and $217 million.
There were reports early on that the Red Sox were going to have to overpay on Price because he wanted to either stay in Toronto or make the move to the more pitcher-friendly National League. And maybe they did go significantly above and beyond the next-best offer to land him.
But the report from Nightengale serves as an indication that the Cardinals are ready and willing to spend big money ahead of next week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. Does that chunk of change now get directed toward Jason Heyward? Or might the Cardinals pounce one of the falling dominos in this still-loaded starting pitching market? What about both?
St. Louis lost Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery last month and both Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha carry some injury concerns into 2016. There’s money to spend there with a new billion-dollar local television deal about ready to kick in.
Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has become the king of the reclamation project. And it sounds like he’s about to take on another big one …
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates have expressed interest in free agent Justin Masterson. The expectation is that it will be a one-year deal with the goal of rebuilding the right-hander’s value in an environment where many other struggling veteran pitchers have executed significant career turnarounds.
Masterson earned his first (and only) All-Star nod in 2013 when he registered a 3.45 ERA, 195 strikeouts, and three shutouts in 32 appearances with the Indians. But he had a 5.88 ERA in 128 2/3 innings between Cleveland and St. Louis in 2014 and he continued struggling to the tune of a 5.61 ERA with the Red Sox in 2015.
It’s not clear whether the Bucs would try him as a starter or reliever.
Jordan Zimmermann signed with the Tigers on Sunday for five years, $110 million. David Price signed with the Red Sox on Tuesday for seven years, $217 million.
Two big dominos have fallen in this loaded free agent market for starting pitchers, and another big one is about to go …
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says a deal for Zack Greinke “could come soon” and it’s currently “Dodgers vs. Giants” at the top of the bidding ladder.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick confirms that both the Dodgers and Giants are looking for an answer from Greinke, adding that the 32-year-old right-hander seeks a five- or six-year deal with a greater average annual value (AAV) than what Price just secured from Boston. That number would be $31 million, so we’re talking something close to $32 million through 2020-2021.
Greinke opted out of the remaining three years and $71 million contract with Los Angeles in October after posting a 1.66 ERA and 0.84 WHIP across 222 2/3 regular-season innings in 2015. He finished second to the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta in the National League Cy Young Award balloting.