Andy Pettitte

Wait, did Jon Heyman just accuse Andy Pettitte of perjury?

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Last week a lot of people got it totally wrong about Andy Pettitte when they said that he changed his testimony on the stand during the Roger Clemens trial.  As I demonstrated with reference to Pettite’s actual 2008 testimony, Andy Pettitte did not change a thing about his testimony.  He was entirely consistent.

Jon Heyman was one of the guys who got it wrong then, Tweeting that Pettitte “suddenly” changed his testimony.  I guess that’s understandable as a heat of the moment reaction, especially given how it was being played up initially on Twitter and elsewhere.  But now Heyman has had a week to actually, you know, look at the facts. And he either hasn’t bothered to or else he has and doesn’t care, because he’s still wrong:

Suddenly on the stand in federal court last week, Pettitte changed his story about Clemens. And remarkably, he changed it from one day to the next. It is fair to assume he wasn’t being completely truthful one of those two days.

Under questioning by government lawyers, Pettitte, who’s trying for a baseball comeback with the Yankees, said Clemens told him about Clemens’ own HGH use while the pair were working out together back in 1999 or 2000. That was a powerful point against Clemens.

Then only one day later, under questioning by Clemens’ lawyers, Pettitte said he may have misunderstood the key HGH conversation. In fact, it’s now 50-50 he misunderstood, he answered to Clemens attorney Michael Attanasio. “I’d say that’s fair,” Pettitte lamely answered to Attanasio.

He goes on to accuse Pettitte of “bending the truth” to help a friend.  He calls Pettitte’s testimony a “pathetic change-up,” “sudden amnesia,” and a “lame, less-then-honest performance.” There is something lame, pathetic and less-than-honest here, and it’s Heyman’s approach to this story.

As I demonstrated last week, Pettitte’s answers at trial were entirely consistent with his 2008 testimony. He did not change it. He did not say “50/50” in 2008 because he was not asked to put a probability on the matter then. Why? Because he wasn’t being cross examined in 2008, he was being deposed.  It’s a basic legal point that Heyman would understand if he took a moment to understand basic legal procedure. Not that he has to, of course. But if you’re going to go accusing people of perjury as Heyman clearly does here, you probably should.

The point here is that there is absolutely nothing inconsistent with Pettitte’s 2008 testimony and his “50/50” testimony last week.  In 2008 he said he was uncertain. Last week he said he was uncertain.  Last week, however, someone thought to ask him how uncertain. They suggested “50/50” and Pettitte agreed.  If only a government lawyer preparing the witness had thought to ask him that maybe they wouldn’t have called Pettitte to the stand in the first place.

Heyman goes on to say that this is the last straw for Pettitte’s Hall of Fame case in his eyes. That he may have voted for Pettitte despite his win total and his HGH history because the postseason performances were so money that they outweighed it.  But now?

Now, though, his own sympathetic HGH story comes into serious question. If he’s willing to suddenly misremember under oath for a good buddy, it’s easy to think now Pettitte only admitted to what he had to admit to. Maybe Pettitte isn’t quite the truthteller we gave him credit for, and maybe there is some other explanation for how his fastball velocity increased to 93/94 mph somewhere in the middle of his career. I’d say the chances are 50-50 (at best) that Pettitte misremembered his own supposedly very limited usage.

Setting the “Pettitte used more steroids than he said he did” accusation aside, this is Jon Heyman, publicly changing his Hall of Fame vote for Andy Pettitte based on something (i.e. a change in sworn testimony) that never happened.

I guess this shouldn’t surprise us coming from a guy who still thinks, evidence be damned, that Jack Morris pitched to the score and that Bert Blyleven wasn’t a very good pitcher.

But it’s certainly a new, unprofessional low. I mean, at least he never accused Blyleven of committing a crime.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.