Cory Lidle

The Cory Lidle wrongful death trial begins today

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Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died when the plane he was piloting crashed into a Manhattan building on October 11, 2006. Today opening statements in the wrongful death case brought by his widow will take place.

The FAA concluded that the crash was pilot errors and that Lidle who was flying with his instructor, misjudged a turn.  The lawsuit contends, however, that the plane had a defective control system. The defendant is the plane’s manufacturer, Cirrus Design Corp..

Of baseball note: Jason Giambi is on the witness list. He and two other players — Aaron Rowand and Mike Lieberthal — have been put up to testify about Lidle’s “style and abilities as a major-league pitcher.”  This is presumably for the damages phase of the case, assuming it gets there.

I can’t really see how their testimony would be useful, however. If the idea is to establish what kind of money Lidle could have made in his career had he not died, there are no shortage of agents, scouts, executives and economists who could talk about that more comprehensively and succinctly than Giambi, Lieberthal and Rowand could.  My guess is that the plaintiffs would like to have some personable baseball stars with some relationship with Lidle to talk about him in more human terms. If Giambi’s testimony is allowed, he will have only one less high profile trial under his belt this month than he has hits this season.

I have no idea if there is merit to Ms. Lidle’s case. Whenever a wrongful death case comes up, however, I feel compelled to link this, which is my emotional response to all wrongful death suits, whether righteous or not.  It’s a view at which I arrived after a decade’s worth of defending wrongful death suits. I don’t claim that it’s unbiased (like I said, it’s emotional). Short version: people shouldn’t hesitate to bring such suits if there is merit to them. But under no circumstances should they expect them to bring closure or peace, if such things even exist after heart-wrenching tragedy.

Padres sign Trevor Cahill

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) during the seventh inning of Game 3 in baseball's National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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The Padres have signed Trevor Cahill to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

As recently as the middle of the 2015 season it looked like Cahill’s career would meet a premature end, but after being released by the Braves and signing with the Cubs in August of that season he has been a remarkably effective reliever. He has posted a 2.61 ERA in 61 games in Chicago and has posted a strikeout rate far above his career norms.

He’s not someone you necessarily want taking the hill when the leverage is high, but in San Diego the leverage won’t be all that high all that often.

Justin Verlander: “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process”

DETROIT, MI - JULY 20: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 20, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Tigers have sent some mixed signals this winter. The offseason began with widespread reports that GM Al Avila was going to break up the team. Indeed, it was reported that he was willing to field offers for any and all players, on up to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.

As the offseason has unfolded, however, a rebuild has not materialized.

Avila traded away outfielder Cameron Maybin. He signed old friends Omar Infante and Alex Avila. He made the usual sorts of minor league signings every team makes to fill out the roster. Detroit still needs a center fielder and there continue to be rumors that outfielder J.D. Martinez and second baseman Ian Kinsler could be had for the right price, but it’s been pretty quiet at 2100 Woodward Avenue.

If that changes, however, and the Tigers do start to rebuild, there’s one key member of the team who doesn’t really want a part of it. From the Detroit Free Press:

Justin Verlander is 33 years and 330 days old.

He’s not that old.

But the Detroit Tigers ace right-hander – a 12-year major league veteran – is old enough in baseball years to know that he doesn’t really want to be part of a rebuilding process.

“Would it have been upsetting for me if we started trading away everybody?” he told MLB Network Radio on Friday morning. “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process.”

Verlander will make $28 million a year for each of the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top 5 of the 2019 Cy Young vote. He had an excellent return-to-form in 2016, but his contract is still pretty big for a pitcher with his mileage, making it seem unlikely that he would be moved absent the team eating a huge portion of his salary. The same could be said for Miguel Cabrera who, despite still being one of the best hitters in baseball, is making between $28-32 million between now and 2023. A wonderful player, but an extraordinarily difficult contract to move. Both superstars have full no-trade protection as 10-5 men as well.

At the moment the rebuild does not seem to be materializing and the Tigers — as I think they should, probably — will enter 2017 aiming for the AL Central crown, not aiming at restocking their farm system.

But what will Verlander think, however, if the Tigers find themselves out of contention come May? What will he think if Ian Kinsler — a valuable player on a tradable contract — is sold off? Or Justin Upton? Or J.D. Martinez?

It’s worth watching.