Nick Canepa once again demands that the Padres release Yasmani Grandal

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Back in November Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union Tribune wrote what may have been the worst baseball column I read all year (and I wasn’t the only one to think so).

In it he demanded that the Padres release catcher Yasmani Grandal due to his positive PED test. The idea is stupid enough. One does not simply cut ties with a 24 year-old catcher who is under team control for five more years and who has shown immense promise. But it was Canepa’s overwrought, dramatic prose that really set his column apart.

According to Canepa, Grandal committed “an incredibly stupid and thoughtless act.” He “tore the club’s head off.” He “burned this franchise, his teammates and its fans.” He called the act “unforgivable,” and made a weird cryptic comment about how there is no place in a decent world for sports. It was really out of sight.

Three passing of three months has not brought Canepa back to Earth, it seems. Via the Avenging Jack Murphy blog, we learn that Canepa has struck again. After noting the questions with the Padres’ pitching staff, Canepa fights the real enemy:

But doing most of the damage is Yasmani Grandal, who after coming on strong at the end of the year seemed set to be the team’s starting catcher for years. But he got himself busted for taking PEDs and will miss the first 50 games of the season, and that’s if the organization takes him back at all, which it shouldn’t because he absolutely screwed this team …

… How long had he been on the juice? Are there any guarantees he’s going to be the same player if he comes back? There seems to be a feeling within the organization that Grandal hasn’t come clean on this drug thing, especially now that his name allegedly has surfaced in the Miami anti-aging clinic scandal. The justice department probably is going to get involved now. Do the Padres want to be a part of this?

He acts as if Grandal was the first person to ever test positive for PEDs and that keeping Grandal somehow puts the Padres at some great risk. He acts as if there is no downside to the Padres releasing one of the more talented young players in the game. I refuse to believe that Canepa is stupid. I refuse to believe that he does not know that teams like the Padres can’t simply ship talent off and that Grandal is likely to have a good major league career ahead of him. I refuse to believe it, not because I know that much about Canepa, but because no person on planet Earth could possess so much weapons-grade stupidity without being sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council.

No, Canepa is not stupid. He’s grandstanding and hand-wringing and moralizing. And that’s worse than stupidity, because that’s willful.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.