Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

And now, tomorrow’s Bartolo Colon commentary today!


I have a sneaking suspicion that Bartolo Colon’s drug suspension coming a week after Melky Cabrera’s is gonna be like manna from hack commentator heaven. The story line — and it will be treated as one, seamless story line — is gonna break down thusly:

Angle: Here we go again! The Bay Area is once again the center of the PEDs universe!

Comment: It is true, Colon plays on one side of the San Francisco Bay and Melky plays on the other. It is also true that Jose Canseco played on one side of the San Francisco Bay and Barry Bonds played on the other. This is an accident of geography and nothing more.  I’ll allow this as a viable angle if any evidence is revealed connecting the old Bay Area drug cases and these new ones. But that’s extremely unlikely.

There is almost certainly no connection at all between the old BALCO things and these testosterone tests. There is likely even no connection between Colon’s test and Cabrera’s. As such, linking all of these things together, or even just linking Cabrera and Colon together in some sort of grand “the Bay Area and PEDs” kind of thinkpiece without any actual factual basis for doing so is pretty good evidence that someone is mailing in a column. It’s the equivalent of writing a story about a murder in New York and spending several paragraphs on the Son of Sam killings.

Angle: Major League Baseball has a serious drug problem and has to do something now!

Comment: I bet Tom Verducci is kicking himself for writing this story yesterday instead of tomorrow, because it’s always way better to write a “the world is ending” trend piece when there is more than a single data point.  But now that there are two positive drug tests involving prominent players this year — sorry Freddy Galvis, Guillermo Mota and Marlon Byrd, you just don’t rate — we’re twice as far along into epidemic territory as we were yesterday.

That said, I still can’t see how the fact of a positive test and a player being penalized can serve as evidence that Major League Baseball’s drug testing program is flawed. Now, maybe it is flawed. Maybe the tests are done haphazardly and too seldomly. Maybe the whole thing is a farce. But the one thing that is not evidence of that is someone getting caught. No, to make the case that the system is broken, you have to actually explain what about it is broken. To do otherwise is the same as saying that the criminal justice system is broken because that guy who robbed the liquor store was caught and punished.

Angle: The Oakland A’s are sunk/The Oakland A’s are rallying

Comment: With all apologies to Mike Krukow, this line of thinking is post-hoc nonsense. It’s not going to help the A’s to have lost Colon, but in a world where people seem to think that even Stephen Strasburg is a non-essential part of a playoff team’s roster, I have a hard time buying Bartolo Colon’s absence as the tipping point. Especially now that they have Brett Anderson back to take his place.

If the A’s lose the wild card now, people will blame Bartolo Colon being gone. If they win it, they will credit the A’s rallying around the loss and/or betrayal and/or whatever of Colon and say it was the season’s turning point.  In reality, the A’s wild card hopes have a lot more to do with their offense, Brandon McCarthy’s health, the Tigers, the Orioles, the Angels and the Rays.  Colon is not a serious factor for anyone except someone searching for an easy storyline.

There. Now that you’ve read that, you can ignore everything else. Isn’t that a relief?

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.

Marlins announcer Tommy Hutton was let go because he was “too negative”

marlins logo wide

We heard earlier this week that Marlins television analyst Tommy Hutton was let go after 19 seasons on the job. By all accounts, he’s well-liked and respected, so it smelled a little fishy with a team that has owner Jeffrey Loria calling the shots. Well, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was told by a source close to the Marlins that Hutton was let go because he was “too negative.”

Jackson was also able to get in touch with Hutton, who provided some details about how things went down.

“I know there were times I was negative, but I thought those times were called for,” he said. “Ninety percent of what I said was positive. I tried not to be a homer, but you could tell I wanted the Marlins to do well.”

After being told that his salary wasn’t a factor in the decision, Hutton suspected that his candid, blunt analysis might be the impetus for his ouster.

So after learning his fate on Monday, he asked that question – whether they thought he was too negative — to both a Fox producer (at a meeting at Starbucks) and the Marlins’ vice president/communications (by phone).

He said the question was met with silence by both executives.

“I couldn’t get a yes or a no,” he said.

Hutton said there were three incident in recent years where he was told the Marlins were uncomfortable with something he said. He disclosed one example where he was exasperated at the ballpark’s dimensions after former catcher John Buck flew out to the warning track for the final out of a game. He was told by a Marlins vice president after the game that Loria prefer he not talk about the ballpark’s dimensions. Of course, the team is moving in the fences this winter.

To be clear, Hutton said he was told it was a “mutual decision” between the Marlins and FOX to let him go, but Jackson’s source hears that the concern about his “negativity” came from the team.

Hey, do you know the best way to prevent “negative” talk about your team? Fielding a winning baseball team without a dysfunctional ownership and front office. Crazy idea, I know, but it could be cool?