George Mitchell

Roger Clemens wants to call George Mitchell as a witness

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There’s a lot about Roger Clemens’ legal strategy that I’ve never understood, so I shouldn’t be surprised when something new comes up that makes me want to scratch my head:

 Former Sen. George Mitchell says Roger Clemens may call him to testify at his upcoming trial on charges he lied about drug use … Mitchell’s attorney filed court documents Thursday disclosing that his client is a potential defense witness and asking permission to make objections during his testimony.

The Mitchell Report had a lot of problems, but over-inclusive is not something that anyone has accused it of being. Indeed, apart from Clemens, I can’t recall anyone who was named in it that has seriously objected to their inclusion.

The real problem with it was that it only went after the low-hanging fruit (i.e. players who used a couple of drug dealers like Radomski, BALCO and McNamee) and gave the false impression that there were only 89 players who used PEDs, and now that those bad apples had been identified, they could be properly vilified and life can go on as if nothing had ever happened.

So if I’m the prosecutor, and I have a very well-respected former United States senator on the stand, called by the defendant, I simply walk him through the following:

Prosecutor: Senator Mitchell: apart from Mr. Clemens’ objections, have you, since the release of your report, been notified that your investigative team mistakenly included a player who had not, in fact, used performance enhancing drugs?

Mitchell: No.

Prosecutor: Not a single player?

Mitchell: No.

Prosecutor: Thank you, Senator.

Nah, that doesn’t move the needle too much, but it certainly doesn’t help Clemens to have the fact that there are no other erroneously-named players in the report entered into evidence. And Mitchell’s presence there will give gravitas to the anti-Clemens side of the room.

Not too late, Roger: you can decide not to call him.  Might be a good move to let him go. If you want to go after the Mitchell Report, call an expert who can poke holes in its methodology and conclusions in a way that doesn’t allow its well-respected namesake to come in and make it sound more credible than it really was.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.