Barry Bonds first pitch NLCS

Wojciechowski: the Giants won the world series because Barry Bonds was gone

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ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski has made a mini-career out of moralizing about steroids in baseball.  Sure, lots of guys do that, but Wojciechowski isn’t exactly the straightest shooter in the bunch. Indeed, between Wojciechowski’s crocodile tears and his casual intellectual dishonesty, he’s basically the Glenn Beck of the steroids beat.

Once he beat up on steroids users, equating them with guys who gambled on baseball games and wondering why their punishments weren’t equal. What he didn’t do, however, was point out that there was, you know, an actual rule on the books specifying how gamblers shall be punished and there wasn’t one at the time about what to do with pre-testing steroids users. Oh, and in that same report he chastised Mark McGwire for not talking to the media when, in fact, McGwire had spent an entire week doing nothing but talking to the media, including Wojciechowski’s own ESPN colleagues.

Another time he waxed all emotional about how his trust will be betrayed and his innocence lost if he found out that Derek Jeter was found to be juicing because of the whole Yankee pride thing, without mentioning the fact that a whole bunch of Yankees were named in the Mitchell Report.  It was a dramatic tour de force. Really it was.

The latest entry on his big chalk board: the 2010 Giants would never have won the World Series if Barry Bonds was on the team:

Barry Bonds helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series last season. And he could help them win it again this season.  How? Because he’s not a Giant anymore.  When Bonds and his toxic presence was finally removed by the hazmat people after the 2007 season, the Giants began to win more games. Not a lot at first, but enough to realize that Bonds’ forced departure was like an emergency tracheotomy on the franchise’s windpipe. The Giants could finally breathe again.

And it goes on and on like that, transitioning into a meditation on the Giants’ great team chemistry.

To which I’d ask: does Woj actually believe that Barry Bonds in his prime — and for that matter, Barry Bonds during his ascendancy or his decline — wouldn’t have done more to help the Giants win the World Series last year than Pat Burrell did with his 0 for 13 and 11K performance?  More generally, is it really Wojciechowski’s position that it was the existence of Barry Bonds that kept the Giants from winning the World Series between 1993 and 2007?  That, if all else were equal but Bonds gone, the Giants would have had more success, not less?

I get it: Wojciechowski hates Barry Bonds and everything he stood for. That’s great, because a lot of people do.  But it’s one thing to hate a guy and another to assert something as ridiculous as Barry Bonds presence actually hindered, rather than helped the Giants’ baseball performance. That’s simply ludicrous.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.

Report: The Nationals are still in on Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.

In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.

The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.