Cory Lidle

The Cory Lidle wrongful death trial begins today


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.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.