Manny Ramirez

Scott Miller on Manny Ramirez’s presence on the Oakland A’s: “unconscionable”

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Last week Scott Miller of CBS Sports.com made a series of tweets excoriating the Athletics for signing Manny Ramirez. He called the move “reprehensible” and said it was evidence that we lived in a “twisted world.”  He then promised to tear Manny and the A’s a new one when he visited their camp in Phoenix and wrote about him. It was not the typical thing you see from an experienced reporter and columnist.

After I wrote a post about that I had an email exchange with Miller. It was very pleasant, as Miller is an extremely polite and pleasant man. Not just my opinion, by the way. Others I know who have met him or corresponded with him have said the same thing and I have no doubt about it. Anyway, we didn’t come to any grand agreement in the exchange apart from us both agreeing that Twitter is odd.

Miller did say, however, that when he did meet Ramirez at A’s camp that he would give the story a fair shake, listen to what he had to say and what the A’s had to say about it all and that his resulting column would not be based exclusively on preconceived notions and his first, somewhat intemperate reaction to the Ramirez signing.

Well, Miller’s column is up, and it seems that Manny didn’t do anything to change his mind.

Indeed, Miller’s reaction was the same, if not even more extreme regarding the morals and ethics of signing Ramirez.  It’s “unconscionable,” Miller says. He concludes his story by saying “Right is right, and wrong is wrong. And this is wrong from every angle.”

Except there’s nothing in the story, complete with an interview with Ramirez, which explains why Miller feels this way apart from the fact that Manny has, in the past, been a serial jackass. Ramirez talks at length about how he has found religion and how it has set him straight (and, implicitly, how the way he behaved before was wrong).  He talks about a fresh start and trying to do right.  In the course of the interview, Ramirez is delivered flowers from “someone in Boston” — where Ramirez is supposed to be hated, if you believe the anti-Manny crowd — and Miller disapproves.

One anonymous player — and it’s not clear if it’s an A’s player, but I’ll assume it is — disapproves of Manny’s past transgressions. Those on the record have no problem with it. There is no information presented or argument made in the article that this is a bad move for the A’s financially or competitively. The entirety of Miller’s disapproval of Manny Ramirez  on the Oakland A’s is that he’s Manny Ramirez.

Which is fine. It’s Miller’s column and Miller’s opinion. But I just don’t see what, based on the nature of all of the men who have played before Manny Ramirez and still play this game despite being less-than-savory characters, makes the A’s signing of Ramirez so much worse than any number of other signings. Josh Leuke pled no contest to false imprisonment with violence after being charged with rape (and lied to the police and the Seattle Mariners about it).  Brett Myers punched his wife. There are a bunch of players, coaches and executives who have been arrested for drunk driving. These are all far worse things than testing positive for PEDs.

So why is Ramirez so bad? What is it about him that sets Miller — and others, I’ll grant — off when it comes to him?  I don’t know.  I really don’t know why Manny is such a lightning rod compared to others who have screwed up and annoyed us.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.