Barring a settlement, it looks as though the trial in which the Mets owners are being accused of either knowing about or being negligent regarding the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme is going to go down next month. And though the ultimate outcome of that trial will have a big impact on the Mets, the blow-by-blow of it all is not really about baseball — and it’s kind of boring — so we haven’t been following it too closely recently.
But there’s a story in the New York Times that is interesting enough to catch my attention. It’s about the Wilpons’ sole expert witness in the case. An expert witness — by the name of John Maine, which is cool — who will testify that the Wilpons had no reason to know what was going on and had adequately fulfilled their duties once they learned what was happening. He did that once before in another case, however, and it didn’t go so well:
Maine testified that the supervisor’s responsibilities for protecting against fraud were limited, and effectively ended when he reported suspicions about the broker up the chain of command at Dean Witter. The expert testimony didn’t fly. Indeed, the S.E.C. judge overseeing the case against the supervisor actually offered a withering critique of Maine’s testimony.
Maine “had not read any case law on the topic” at hand, Thomas Kelly, the administrative law judge, wrote in his opinion. The judge also said that it appeared Maine’s “written expert testimony was prepared in large part” not by Maine, but by the supervisor’s lawyers who had hired him.
Now, this was a long time ago, and he has since testified in many, many cases. If they had consistently gone bad, you can imagine that the Times would have dug them up too. Being an expert witness is quite often a professional gig, and sometimes an expert’s testimony and credibility is blown out of the water in one case while it carries the day wonderfully in the next.
But it’s still kind of interesting. And it reminds us that the Wilpons have an awful lot riding on this case.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.