In which Roger Clemens is compared to Casey Anthony

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I don’t think that I have to provide regular readers my steroid-prosecution-skeptic bonafides. You know where I stand: questionable use of government resources and a highly questionable way for us to assess what happened in baseball over the past 20-25 years too.  A fun spectacle on some level, but ultimately signifying nothing positive or particularly useful.

All that said, I just can’t get on board with Mike Vaccaro’s column in today’s New York Post. The column in which he argues — in a way you might think I’d argue — that the Roger Clemens prosecution is a waste of everyone’s time and money and that the legal system has better things to be doing. The problem I have is the example he uses as a means of jumping into the matter:

Caylee Anthony is dead. And nobody has yet been forced to answer for it. This was the kind of case that merited all the time, all the attention and all the energy of our judicial system. A 2-year-old girl drowns, her body is tossed in the woods, a suspect is arrested, arraigned, indicted, tried. This is why lawyers are paid handsomely, why judges and juries are empanelled, why taxpayer dollars are spent.

In this moment, frankly, it is difficult to build an angry lather about Roger Clemens …

Look, I get that some people got emotional over the Anthony trial — Vaccaro himself was clearly annoyed by the verdict in real time on Twitter yesterday afternoon — but if a dead toddler is your threshold for what is a worthy prosecution, nothing that goes down in our legal system is going to seem all that legit to you.*

There are clear priorities in our legal system. There has to be. But it’s not as if every transgression against Man and State is placed on a big board, all of them judged against one another and only the most dire cases pursued. There are different tracks in the justice system, all leading from different stations.  Some begin with the police on the street. Some begin with people monitoring paperwork. Some begin with citizens filing their own lawsuits. An investigator and a prosecutor tasked with looking at drug crimes or the veracity of testimony before Congress can’t have Caylee Anthony as their bogey, or else they’re never going to make a case.

Back to Clemens. No, it’s not the highest and best use of the legal system. But I’d argue that, in the way it all came down, it’s a higher use than the Barry Bonds case in that, unlike the Bonds case, it truly did involve a person trying to bully his way through legal proceedings based on his fame, offering up implausibilities that demanded they be put to the test one way or the other lest the proceedings look like a farce. Clemens was given multiple outs and opportunities to avoid the public spectacle and willingly passed them up. And yes, I wish that others who have come before Congress and told lies were put in the dock too, but our shameful overlooking of the lies of tobacco or oil executives, for example, does not mean Roger Clemens is worthy of no scrutiny himself.

But no matter where you fall on that issue, I would hope we can agree that, when talking about Roger Clemens, using the Casey Anthony case as a framing device is not exactly the most artful or apt thing in the world, and that it really does nothing to help us think about what to feel about Clemens, steroids in baseball or the legal system.

*It’s also possible that Vacarro doesn’t truly believe that child murder is the threshold for our legal system to act and that he’s merely being sensationalistic and emotionally manipulative here. Perish the thought.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.