Jim Crane

Lawyer says that Jim Crane is no war profiteer. Not that it really helps.

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Look, I have no idea why Major League Baseball is dragging its feet on approving Jim Crane as the next owner of the Astros. Maybe it’s that “I don’t want to move to the American League” thing. Maybe it’s because of the long and rich history between Crane’s company and the EEOC. Maybe it’s because of problems with the deal’s financing.

And then, of course, there are those charges out there that Crane’s company engaged in war profiteering.  That one sounds pretty ugly. The optics, as they say, of that sort of thing are just horrible, what with baseball being the number one consumer of military aircraft flybys, patriotic songs and red, white and blue bunting and all of that.

But at least one person says that baseball should put its mind to rest on the matter:

A Beaumont attorney, who was involved in the war profiteering civil lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice against Houston businessman Jim Crane’s former company, Eagle Global Logistics, said Crane was not the target of the lawsuit … The lead attorney for the two whistleblowers involved in the case, Greg M. Dykeman, sent a letter to Crane Wednsday stating that Crane was not the target of the lawsuit.

“The purpose of my writing is to provide the following representation for the possible purpose of facilitating the sale of the Astros: at no time during this lawsuit and investigation was there ever any belief or evidence that you personally had any involvement with or were even aware of the scheme by the responsible employees. All indications were that this was an isolated incident and you had no knowledge of their actions,” Dykeman wrote in his letter … In an interview with FOX 26 Sports Dykeman said he wrote the letter because he is a fan of the Astros and owner Drayton McLane, wanted to help out with the sale of the franchise and that he believed he is in a position to state that Crane was not involved in war profiteering.

Look, that’s nice and all, but if you ever find yourself in a position where a lawyer has to make it clear in a letter that the really nasty stuff that went on at your company had nothing to do with you personally, you may have already lost the p.r. battle. It’s akin to having witness provide you with an alibi at your murder trial. Sure, it may get you off the hook, but it’s not gonna get you invited to any of the parties you used to attend back before you were charged.

Baseball likely doesn’t care about what happens officially. They just don’t want the general stink that accompanies the charges regardless of who is specifically to blame.

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.