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.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.