Alex Rodriguez

If Alex Rodriguez cheated, it was just to help the Yankees win

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Maybe it’s just me, but I see a great deal of irony in the idea that Alex Rodriguez, years after all of the allegations and admissions, with hundreds of millions of dollars already earned, was still trying to cheat in 2012.

What, pray tell,  did Rodriguez have to gain by cheating, nine years after he said he stopped. Fame? I imagine he already had more than he’d like. Money? He does have $30 million possibly coming to him if he sets home run records. That’s essentially equal to one year’s extra salary for a guy who has already taken home about $300 million. The admiration of an adoring American populace? Fat chance.

I’m not writing to defend Alex Rodriguez. I abhor the act of cheating. I understand it, though. I’d be very tempted to do it myself if millions of dollars were at stake, as would so many others who are quick to condemn. For that reason, I’m pretty rational about the cheaters themselves.

But if we believe A-Rod’s first story, he never cheated until after he got his huge, $252 million contract from the Rangers. I don’t necessarily buy that, especially in light of today’s news, but obviously, he didn’t stop once he got his cash, as someone who was simply in it for the money might have done.

So, what is this all about, if not money? In my opinion, it’s about winning. Alex Rodriguez, for whatever faults he may have, has always desperately wanted to win. Sometimes it’s caused him to try too hard. I’m mostly referring to some postseason struggles in saying that, but it could also be applied to injecting powerful and potentially harmful substances into his body. A-Rod wants to win. And he wants to be liked, by teammates and fans both, which is another obvious product of winning.

Here we were in 2010, 2011, 2012. Rodriguez is signed through 2017. Nothing he did those seasons was going to affect his next contract. He’s making $30 million per year. He’s already admitted to steroid use early in his career, which would seem to make it imperative that he never again be caught with such substances if he wanted any chance of getting into the Hall of Fame when the time came.

And, yet, he put it all into jeopardy, according to today’s account in the Miami New Times.

In my eyes, whatever Rodriguez personally had to gain by using steroids was dwarfed by what he could lose by continuing to cheat. The potential voiding of his contract. Alienating the fans who had forgiven him. Endorsements. The rain of boos in every stadium he plays in going forward. What is that against an extra year’s salary?

Maybe I don’t know. I’m not a professional athlete, much less one of the greatest to ever play the game. I don’t have any real insight into what’s going on in Rodriguez’s head. In my head, it’s simply mind-blowing that Rodriguez would continue to cheat after everything that’s happened. That’s the main reason I have some doubts about today’s news; not the report itself but that Dr. Bosch was treating the actual Rodriguez and not some A-Rod he made up on paper.

Because this Rodriguez seemed to have so very much more to lose than to gain by cheating. If he did it anyway, wasn’t it all in the name of making the Yankees better? More wins, more championships, more love. I don’t see what else it could have been about.

The Orioles and Yovani Gallardo are “making progress”

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are “making progress” in talks with free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

Gallardo has been on the market so long because he has a first round pick tied to him due to his declining the Rangers’ qualifying offer. The Orioles would have to forfeit the 14th overall pick in order to sign him. That has been too steep a price to pay for them all winter, but as we’re mere days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, it’s likely that Gallardo’s price has dropped enough to make it worth their while.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons — and had a career-low 3.42 ERA in 2015 — but his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012, suggesting that trouble could be on the horizon.

If the O’s do burn their pick to get Gallardo, it might make sense for them to go all-in with another free agent like Dexter Fowler, given that they’d not have to give up anything else to do it.

Rangers avoid arbitration with Mitch Moreland

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First baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.7 million deal.

Moreland requested $6 million and the Rangers countered at $4.675 million, so the two sides settled on the player-friendly side of the midpoint.

Moreland bounced back from an injury wrecked 2014 season to have a career-year in 2015, hitting .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS in 132 games. Arbitration eligible for the final time at age 30, he’s set to be a free agent next offseason.

Tiger Stadium redevelopment group loses $50K because of its preference for artificial turf

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Craig Calcaterra
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We’ve posted frequently on the topic of the old Tiger Stadium site. If you’ve kept up with it you know that the site, nearly overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash before being rescued by a group of volunteers called the Navin Field Grounds Crew, is now being slated for redevelopment by the Detroit Police Athletic League.

The PAL is committed to keeping a baseball field as part of the development, but they are also, quite unfortunately, committed to putting artificial turf down over the bit of Earth where baseball legends once walked and ran.

Backlash to the plan has begun, however. Not just from people like me or the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who are opposed to fake grass, but to an actual donor to the Detroit Police Athletic League:

With an annual contribution of $50,000 to Detroit PAL’s programs, the Lear Corporation has been a major benefactor of the nonprofit for years. But in light of PAL’s controversial plan to redevelop the Tiger Stadium site with artificial turf, Lear’s CEO is speaking out.

Matthew Simoncini says that Lear is withdrawing its financial support of PAL for its mishandling of this delicate issue.

“I believe the [PAL] plan is severely flawed [and] a terrible use of resources,” says Simoncini. “[It] does not preserve this site and provides [an] unsafe playing surface for the children,”

I’m guessing $50,000 is not the sort of money that will seriously hinder a real estate redevelopment plan, but it’s good to hear someone with a stake in all of this voting with their wallet. Here’s hoping more do and that, eventually, PAL understands that there are some things more important than saving some money at the front end of a project.

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

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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America
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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.