Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens goes on trial this week

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The opening statements and all of the pomp and circumstance will begin Wednesday, but the Roger Clemens perjury trial started Tuesday with evidentiary motions and the like.  Clemens is supposed to be at the courthouse in Washington, D.C. as well, so we’ll get our de riguer look at him wearing some bad suit, flanked by his lawyers and walking into the building. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

We’ve talked a lot about the Clemens trial recently, and given our recent experience with Barry Bonds, we all have a good idea about how this stuff is gonna work, so I’ll spare you a detailed preview. But here’s the short version:

  • Clemens is accused of lying to Congress when he said he never took performance enhancing drugs;
  • His statements to that effect were far more stark and certain than those Barry Bonds made at his grand jury testimony;
  • Unlike Bonds, there are witnesses who will come forward to say that Clemens is flat lying (his former trainer, Brian McNamee) or at least suggest that his story is implausible, even if they don’t have direct knowledge of Clemens’ drug use itself (Andy Pettitte); and
  • Unlike the Bonds case, where no one disputed Bonds’ actual use of PEDs as opposed to his knowing use, forensic evidence that directly links Clemens to PEDs will be highly relevant here, particularly those syringes that Brian McNamee saved and handed over to the feds, and which allegedly contain some Clemens DNA (and which the defense, of course, will attack as corrupted and/or phony).

Over at the Daily News, Nathaniel Vinton has his own preview, focusing on one of the other major differences between the Bonds case and the Clemens case: the lead investigator. Vinton introduces us to FBI agent John Longmire, who led the investigation into Clemens. Unlike Bonds investigator Jeff Novitzky, Longmire does not seem like someone who has sought out media attention and does not see PED cases as his ticket to fame.

My takeaway on that is that: while we can still say that PED prosecutions are a questionable use of government resources, this case is a different beast than the Bonds case. No one made it a career priority to get Roger Clemens.  He did most of this to himself and, at some point, the government simply can’t ignore it when it is being poked as much as Roger Clemens and his legal team poked it.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.