New York tabloid: “Leave A-Rod alone!”

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Only Nixon could go to China, only Kirk could make peace with the Kilingons and only the New York Post can tell people that it’s time to stop going after Alex Rodriguez:

Look, Alex Rodriguez always has been Alex Rodriguez’s worst enemy, and perhaps his litany of career sins — runaway ego and greed mixed with steroids — is never going to be absolved, even if A-Rod has offered a better version of himself the past two years.

Nevertheless, at some point legitimate critique of Rodriguez has been usurped by something close to piling on. He is the fish in the barrel and shooting at him has become a hard-to-break habit. It feels like the fun, easy game that anyone can play.

Of course, that’s Joel Sherman, who usually does way better than your typical Post or Daily News opinion-monger, so it’s possible that he’ll be drummed out of the club for making such a suggestion.

But he’s right on the mark too.  It’s fair game to call out Rodriguez for his trespasses, but (a) it has been some time since he’s had a major one; and (b) the minor ones he gets beat up for are simply silly, even if they could be called trespasses (would that I do something so “embarrassing” as to have a famous Hollywood actress feed me by hand while sitting in expensive seats at the Super Bowl).

And Sherman’s main point is the best rebuttal of them all: Rodriguez works his ass off as a baseball player. And he’s one of the best who has ever lived. You’d think more time would be spent on that end of things.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.