Roger Clemens is looking forward to his day in court

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I once had an argument with my colleagues at the law firm about the public relations tack to take with a criminal client. I told them that the whole “our client is looking forward to his day in court” stuff was tired and no one ever bought it.  Better to say nothing or to come up with something new at least, I argued, because that old line was pretty close to saying “man, our dude is guilty, but maybe we can sucker 12 rubes who don’t read the newspapers into going all O.J.-jury on us!”

Of course, because I was a peon, I was told to go back to reviewing documents.  They used the old reliable statement. Our client was found guilty. A better statement wouldn’t have changed that, but at least it would have been more fun.

Anyway, I had this in mind when I heard Roger Clemens’ latest statement about his upcoming trial:

“You almost hate to say you’re looking forward to it, but we’re looking forward to it … We’re going to have our say in a fair setting. I’ve been great about not talking about it, and we’re going to handle it the right way. You’ve got to deal with it, and that’s the way I look at it: We’re going to deal with it.”

It’s not too different, but at least that’s better than the straight stock answer.

I gotta tell ya, though, that whole “we’re going to have our say in a fair setting” thing is funny. Take yourself back to late 2007/early 2008, and remember that the stuff that got Roger Clemens in the most trouble — the stuff that truly set this whole insane business off — was Clemens speaking in decidedly unfair settings. Unfair in his favor.

He gave press conferences orchestrated by his lawyer. He did 60 minutes with a strangely softball-throwing Mike Wallace. He issued reports that spun his career achievements in the most ridiculous ways.  The net result of all of that was an invitation to a Congressional hearing that never would have happened had he not blustered forth so stridently, and in which his own public statements were used against him. Now he’s facing criminal charges.

Roger, dude: I love you man.* But given how bad your own P.R. spectacles have come back to bite you on the ass, a “fair” setting is likely to absolutely murder you.

*May not be true.

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.