John Rocker peddles “the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened if the Jews had guns” nonsense

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Here’s your quarterly reminder that former baseball person John Rocker is a sick and/or crazy person.

Rocker has devoted his latest column on that right wing website he writes for to gun rights stuff. Which is fine in and of itself. Gun rights are a hot topic these days and there are a lot of reasonable positions one can take on the subject even when vehemently disagreeing with someone else who is also offering an alternative reasonable take.

Unfortunately, Rocker is not offering a reasonable take. He’s peddling second-hand talking points from crazy people:

“Absolute certainties are a rare thing in this life, but one I think can be collectively agreed upon is the undeniable fact that the Holocaust would have never taken place had the Jewish citizenry of Hitler’s Germany had the right to bear arms and defended themselves with those arms.”

Despite this being a popular talking point by some on the right wing, this is demonstrably false. Gun ownership was never widespread in Germany, even when there were few if any controls on people’s rights to own firearms. To suggest, then, that the Holocaust was made possible by the lack of armed Jews is pure nonsense on the facts alone.

More significantly, Rocker’s nonsense here downplays if not ignores the fact that it was not some tangential gun policy that led to the Holocaust, but the actual policy of implementing the Holocaust which led to the Holocaust. Jews were not targets of opportunity by the Nazis, seized upon because, hey look, they’re unarmed. They were intentionally and systematically targeted for persecution and extermination by the government, which had millions of troops under its command, armed with state-of-the-art weaponry. To suggest that some “Red Dawn”-style uprising would have prevented the Nazis from committing their crimes against humanity is pure, facile revenge fantasy, the likes of which can only be espoused by a person who has no experience with persecution.

Or maybe it’s worse. Perhaps Rocker and his ilk really don’t think that armed Jews would have stopped the Nazis and, instead, are cynically using the Holocaust as a prop in the latest act of political theater. Perhaps they view the Holocaust as a useful and emotionally-laden example with which to guilt, shame or manipulate their opponents in a modern day political dustup.

If so, it’s more despicable than it is ignorant. Way more despicable than anything the younger Rocker told Jeff Pearlman in that interview that got him into trouble back in the 90s.

(link via Deadspin)

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).