This is a surprise: Andy Pettitte just showed up at the courthouse in Washington and is expected to testify today in the Roger Clemens trial. It was thought that his testimony would come later in the trial.
1. This will certainly be good for him and the Yankees, as it gets a big distraction out of the way before he makes his debut with the big club; and
2. I said this once a long time ago, but I don’t think Pettitte’s testimony helps the prosecution that much. At least if Clemens’ lawyers are smart about his cross examination. That’s because if you back and look at his congressional deposition, he was pretty darn equivocal about Clemens’ PED use. He said he never saw Clemens use and never knew for sure that he did. He thought at one time that Clemens said he did, but that he later was told that he was mistaken about that and basically took it at face value. The most they have out of Pettitte with any degree of certainty is that he and Clemens once discussed PEDs in a fairly innocuous way.
Now, Clemens’ lawyers still have to be very careful here. Pettitte is going to likely come off as a nice guy and sympathetic witness, and it would be a major mistake to go after him with any degree of vehemence. But, if they’re subtle, and simply and politely walk Pettitte through his past testimony while adding some helpful “but you weren’t sure, is that right?” and some “but you never saw him take anything, that is your testimony?” He can actually help Clemens’ case, not hurt it.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.
The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.
Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.
As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.